Christmas can be a hectic period for everybody. Running and rushing around, panic buying, darting from one Christmas party to another. Whilst we would always advocate enjoying the festivities to the max, it is, unfortunately, a time that we see a sharp increase in the number of road traffic allegations brought against motorists. Police activity over Christmas is always significantly increased to crack down on offending motorists, so the risk of being caught committing an offence is exponentially higher. Hopefully, this guide will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls this year.
Drink driving, drunk in charge, failing to provide a specimen for analysis
The number of enquiries we receive relating to alcohol-related allegations over Christmas is more than any other time of the year, and it doesn’t take a genius to understand why. Christmas is full of festivities which almost invariably include alcohol. Office parties, get-togethers with friends, family dinners with pre- and post-grub drinks and whistle-wetting after stressful shopping ventures are all scenarios when we tend to drink a little more freely.
One of the issues with alcohol is that it impedes our judgement and leads motorists to make decisions they wouldn’t usually make. If you think that sleeping it off in your car is a good idea, then exercise caution as you may still be charged with being drunk in charge. Even if you sleep in your vehicle, you must have a way to get home once you wake up that does not involve driving, whilst you might still be over the drink drive limit.
If you are hauled off into custody, there are various reasons you might not be able to provide a breath sample, and this would lead to a charge being brought against you.
We would always urge you to try and be mindful of your alcohol intake, especially if it is unplanned and you have your vehicle nearby. Try to always make sure you have another option to get home. Drink sensibly and make sure you eat (to slow the absorption of alcohol). Alternate your alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks. Check public transport, make sure you have enough money and phone battery, elect a designated driver within your group, or stay at a nearby friend’s house.
These are all tips that could help you avoid being charged with one of these offences which carry a mandatory disqualification of 12 months and an unlimited fine.
The primary cause for speeding in most cases is a lack of planning. You realise you’re going to be late, so you put your foot down. There is always so much more to do over Christmas, so plan your time accordingly and don’t try to fit too much into one day, as this will almost certainly lead to rushing. Police will undoubtedly have more speed check zones dotted around the country and you don’t want to get pulled over or flashed by a camera, because you want to make it to the supermarket before it closes. The turkey can wait another day, and it is not worth risking penalty points or a disqualification from driving.
Careless or dangerous driving, failing to stop or report an accident
Driving conditions during the winter months can be treacherous and road traffic accidents are more common. Motorists must be more mindful of the conditions they are driving in to help avoid a collision. This means making sure your car is roadworthy, being patient whilst driving and aware of your surroundings, and not restricting your view by cramming an oversized tree into the back of your car.
If the worst happens and you are involved in an accident, then it is likely that at least one of the drivers will face charges, and the circumstances will determine the severity. It is also important that you stop after an accident and comply with your legal obligations in exchanging details etc. It is worth noting, however, that careless and/or dangerous driving don’t require an accident to be brought against you, so always drive carefully and don’t allow the circumstances around you to reduce your own standard of driving. Penalties for these offences vary significantly and can include penalty points, disqualifications or even prison sentences.
Motoring Defence Solicitors are road traffic lawyers specialising in drink and drug driving offences. Based out of their central London offices, they provide free advice on a range of offences to motorists nationwide. You can contact Neil Sargeant for free on 0800 433 2880 or visit the website at www.drinkdrugdriving.co.uk.