The police don’t need a reason to stop your car, which means they can do it at any time, no matter how, where or what you’re driving. It also means that it’s an offense to not comply. If the police does stop you, they may ask to look at your license, insurance and MOT. Also, they may decide to give you a breathalyzer, which could be just the beginning in a long chain of events.
Drink driving law in Britain has different thresholds for the quantity of alcohol in your system, depending on where you are, with those in Scotland being stricter than in the rest of Britain (22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 micrograms of breath as opposed to 35 micrograms elsewhere in the country).
If you are over the limit while in your car and you fail a breathalyzer, you will be taken to the local police station and requested to give two further breath tests. If you refuse to provide a sample, you will likely end up being given at least 4 points, there is the potential for an unlimited fine, up to 6 months’ imprisonment, and a possible minimum driving ban of 1 year or more depending on whether it is a first conviction. If you do provide a sample, the lower of the two breathalyzer readings will be taken as your official breath test and, if that is over the limit, you will be charged.
By this point, your car may have been seized and will need to be collected by a third party since you will not be allowed to enter it until you are sober. Seizure of your vehicle carries its own costs, with up to £200 required to collect it, plus £20 per day while it is kept in possession.
If you are charged with being over the alcohol limit while being in charge of a vehicle or while driving a vehicle, you will need to go to court. A drink driving conviction carries severe penalties, including possible imprisonment, up to £2,500 or even unlimited fines, and a possible drink driving disqualification.
Drink driving law is designed so that the ramifications of being caught and a subsequent conviction are sufficient enough that people do everything they can to avoid being over the limit in the first place. A drink driving ban could lose you your job, business – even your home. That said, if a specialized drink driving solicitor is able to successfully argue a case of exceptional hardship, you may be able to avoid a ban and save yourself from some of the suffering that such a conviction would otherwise bring.