Drink Driving Penalties In The UK

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Will I go to prison for drink driving?

If you’re found guilty of drink driving, you could face being imprisoned, paying a fine and being banned from driving. The punishment you receive is down to the severity of the case and decided by the Magistrates Court.

What is the minimum disqualification period for drink driving?

If you are found to be overseeing a vehicle whilst beyond the legal limit, you may not necessarily receive a driving ban, this is decided in court. If you are guilty of driving or attempting to drive while over the limit, the minimum disqualification period is 1 year, or 3 years if you have been convicted twice in 10 years.

One bad decision can lead to a number of consequences. So find out about the potential penalties you could incur through drink driving below, or use our drink driving penalty calculator.

Drink Driving Penalties In The UK

Try our Drink Driving Penalty Calculator

Find out what sort of penalty you could receive.

Drink Driving Penalties 

Overseeing a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

Why you have received this penalty

This punishment would apply to a driver who is not moving, but is in a stationary vehicle with control of its movements.

Potential Sentence:

  • 3 months in prison
  • Up to £2,500 fine
  • A possible driving ban

Driving whilst above the legal limit

Why you have received this penalty

This drink driving punishment applies to drivers who are found to be driving a vehicle over the legal limit

Potential Consequences:

  • 6 months in prison
  • Uncapped fine
  • Driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

Refusing to provide a specimen when stopped (Breathalyser)

Why you have received this penalty

This punishment is a result of a driver refusing to give a specimen when stopped, even if randomly stopped.

Potential Consequences:

  • 6 months in prison
  • Uncapped fine
  • Driving ban for at least 1 year

Causing death through drink driving

Why you have received this penalty

These potential punishments apply to drivers who have caused death by drink driving.

Potential Consequences:

  • 14 years in prison
  • Uncapped fine
  • A ban from driving for at least 2 years
  • An extended driving test before you can drive again.
  • In some cases, you may have to pass a medical examination with a DVLA doctor if you are a high-risk offender.

Additional consequences of drink driving

A conviction for drink driving also means:

  • Your car insurance will rise
  • Your conviction will be visible to potential employers
  • You may have issues travelling to select countries outside the UK

How to avoid drink driving

  • Arrange a designated driver for nights you are planning on consuming alcohol
  • Use public transport where possible on evenings out
  • Avoid alcohol altogether if you are planning on driving
  • Try alcohol free nights out

Explore our conviction code guide

Drink Driving Penalties In The UK

For more details about specific drink driving convictions, take a look at our comprehensive conviction code guide covering points and potential penalties.