Thursday, 31 July 2014


Guest post by Paul Loughlin

There are two clear and basic ingredients to an offence of ‘Drink Driving’. I suppose that’s obvious really. The first being that a car has to be driven on a road or other public place. The second being that alcohol has to have been consumed to show either that the driver is over the prescribed limit or that he or she is impaired to such an extent that they are unfit to drive.

Well known Penalties

The television infomercials are to the point in explaining that there is a minimum 12 month ban from driving and a criminal record. The warnings don’t go as far as to explain that in serious cases a Community Order can be imposed and in very serious cases the Courts can even hand down a prison sentence. 

Long has the question been asked: ‘What is the main purpose of the Criminal Justice System? To punish those who offend or to rehabilitate those who offend? Most people would say there has to be an element of both for justice to be done.

Now the government are having to look at ways to simply deter repeat offenders who seem immune to any attempt to rehabilitate and immune to the consequences of any punishment! Electronic tags are not a new thing. They have been used for some time now to restrict offender’s movements in certain areas and at certain time. A deterrent from repeat offending above all else perhaps?

Drastic measures?

Never before though has an electronic tag been used to directly deter an offender from consuming alcohol by measuring the alcohol consumed!

A new 12 month trial is set to begin for drink driving cases in London Boroughs using electronic tags to record the level of alcohol in the offender’s sweat. The ‘transdermal tags’ will monitor if the offender has consumed alcohol. If they have, then the Court will have power to impose further penalties.

‘Scourge on our High Streets’

With Alcohol related offences reported in a more negative light than ever before it is perhaps unsurprising that this scheme is being piloted in an effort to simply deter repeat offenders who seem immune to punishment or rehabilitation programmes. Boris Johnson has made his feelings known about the topic and it is hoped that the scheme will help to drop drink driving repeat offences by the 12% that it has done during trials in South Dakota, US.

Perhaps the above viewpoint answers the question posed. Or certainly how the Courts are looking to deal with the problem. The tendency here is to punish rather than rehabilitate. The deterrent here is the additional punishment and the additional imposition.

In the circumstances it is more important than ever to ensure that the negative stigma of drink related offences, drink driving in particular, is not the overriding thought in the mind of the Court when considering a case and ultimately any sentence on a finding of guilt. 

We firmly believe that each case has to be taken on its own merits and that the penalty imposed has to be in keeping with the circumstances and the offender's mitigation. A blanket policy is dangerous and unjust. 

If you are in the unenviable position of having to go to court for a drink driving offence, make sure you check your options with our expert Motoring Team at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors before going to Court and blindly leaving your ankles to their mercy!

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