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In charge of a motor vehicle

It is an offence under Section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 for a person to be in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or public place with alcohol above the prescribed limit, in breath, blood or urine.

However, there is a Statutory Defence available, if you are able to prove that the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of you driving the vehicle whilst the proportion of alcohol in your breath, blood or urine exceeded the prescribed limit.

It is an offence under Section 5A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 for a person to be in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or public place with a specified controlled drug in their blood or urine which exceeds the specified limit.

There is a Statutory Defence available if the specified controlled drug is prescribed or supplied in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and taken in accordance with medical advice, or if you are able to prove that there was no likelihood of you driving the vehicle while over the specified limit.

There is no legal definition of being ‘in charge’ so every case depends on the individual circumstances and facts. Generally, if you are sat in your vehicle or have recently driven it, the prosecution will say that you were in charge of it, especially if you have the keys in your possession or the engine was running.

The consequences

Being in charge of a motor vehicle is a summary offence, meaning it will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

If you are convicted of an offence of this nature, depending on the seriousness and any aggravating features, you are at risk of a means tested fine, community order or immediate custody of up to 6 weeks for excess alcohol and up to 3 months for excess specified drugs, the starting point for endorsement of your driving licence is 10 penalty points or a disqualification from driving of up to 12 months, which can be extended where an immediate custodial sentence is imposed.

Legal representation

If you have been invited to a police interview under caution, contact us immediately. You are entitled to legal representation for any Police interview. If instructed, one of our experts will attend the station with you. They will liaise with the interviewing officers to obtain disclosure prior to the interview so you know the extent of the allegation against you. There will be an opportunity for them to provide advice in private as to how best to deal with the interview itself, before you are questioned.

If you have been charged with an offence of being in-charge of a motor vehicle, it is of the utmost importance that you seek specialist advice as soon as is possible. Our specialist team are on standby, ready to help you through the process from start to finish. They will provide bespoke advice in respect of the evidence in your case and their proactive approach ensures you are in the best position possible to obtain the best possible outcome.

Contact us today for more information and an initial free confidential discussion with one of our motoring law experts on 0161 930 5151 or email crimeandregulatoryteam@gorvins.com

Alternatively please complete the contact form on this page and we will contact you as soon as possible.

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Meet the Crime and Regulatory team

  • Paul Reddy

    Partner & Co-Head of Crime and Regulatory
    Crime and Regulatory

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  • Amanda McIntosh

    associate
    Crime and Regulatory

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