Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
Hello all,

I know this matter has been discussed plenty of time but in my case it's a bit specific.
I am currently studying in Scotland in 4th year, but i am from France. I came here from France with my car.

Yesterday night, while driving my girlfriend back home after a night out I was caught drink driving with breath test a 0.79. I'm feeling a bit down at the moment and the court will be on the 27th of February. As a student I don't have that much of money. I am totally aware that what I've done was wrong and I will assume my responsibilities but do you have any idea what kind of sentence I can expect from the court. I am a bit scared about that.
Thanks for your help.


Edited by Pugugly on 01/02/2009 at 23:26

Caught drink driving - Lygonos
That's approx. twice the legal limit, so a 12 month disqualification and £400 fine would be in the right ballpark.
Caught drink driving - smokie
I believe there is some means testing on the level of fine.
Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
Ok. I was a bit afraid about jail at the begginning but seems like it's more likely not to happen. Guess I'm gonna have to look for a job to pay that fine now! Cheers for your answer.
Caught drink driving - Lygonos
You may wish to speak to a solicitor - as drink-driving is a criminal offence, you may be eligibile for Legal Aid, although I'm not sure if a French national would qualify for this.

Many solicitors will offer an initial free consultation for advice and to see if you might benefit from their help/qualify for Legal aid.
Caught drink driving - Westpig

Unless there were a number of extras that you've failed to mention.. and even taking into account a grumpy Magistrate/Sheriff (depending on where you were)...if you were jailed for a first offence i'd eat my hat.
Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
No I don't have any previous, like someone else said before I am expecting a 12 month disqualification and a fine around 500£. finger crossed...
Caught drink driving - ifithelps

Contact a solicitor, think you'll qualifiy for legal aid, I've seen other foreign nationals get it in similar circumstances.

Twice the legal limit is a fair scoop of drink, so reckon on an 18-month or two-year ban.

The court will be impressed by contrition, remorse, etc, even more impressed if it's genuine.

Your solicitor will speak on your behalf, so tell him you're sorry, feel you've brought shame on yourself and France, etc.

Actions speak louder than words - sell the car and tell the court you've kept the money to pay any fine.

Lastly, don't do it again for two reasons:

1) It's stupid and irresponsible.

2) You might go to prison for a second offence.
Caught drink driving - krs one
You didn't punch the policeman did you? Can you remember?

Caught drink driving - David Horn
It might be a language thing but I'd suggest you ask for the thread title to be changed. "Caught drink driving" implies to me that you've done it before and got away with it, which is probably not the impression you want to give!
Caught drink driving - the swiss tony
Lastly don't do it again for two reasons:
1) It's stupid and irresponsible.
2) You might go to prison for a second offence.

make that four....

3) you could injure or kill yourself

4) you could injure or kill someone else - and have to live with the memory.
Caught drink driving - henry k
>>"No I don't have any previous"
That is obviously important.

I note you are a new member of the forum and possibly not aware of some of the experts that contribute.
Westpig is certainly very very experienced in police matters.

Edited by henry k on 02/02/2009 at 09:39

Caught drink driving - Falkirk Bairn
No prison - jails overflowing with more serious offenders - 8K in Scotland with 7K capacity!

Drug dealers do not get prison on 1st offence more than often.
DUI is serious but modest on the scale of 1-10.
Caught drink driving - movilogo
If you have a non-UK license, can they put points there?
Caught drink driving - Bill Payer
If you have a non-UK license can they put points there?

They create a licence specially (and then suspend it!) so you cannot drive in the UK.

I assume that the OP would still be able to drive elsewhere - this is one of the things that the EU is trying to sort out.
Caught drink driving - OldSock
Hi Sebastien,

Nice to see that you've accepted responsibility for your actions, and are not trying to wriggle your way out of the consequences. I'd imagine that many on this forum have been luckier than you in similar circumstances...

A custodial sentence would be even less likely than a Second Coming - just hold your hands up and express your genuine remorse (I'd avoid a dismissive Gallic shrug, though!).

Just one thing - have you been driving on a UK driving licence?
Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
No I am driving on my french driving licence which allows me to drive in EU and UK.

@Bill Payer
Do you mean once I'll be back in France in May my DL will still be valid?

Tomorrow I'm gonna try to get legal aid from a solicitor, and I'll keep you in touch after the Court on the 27th.
Caught drink driving - Bill Payer
@Bill Payer
Do you mean once I'll be back in France in May my DL will still
be valid?

I believe so - a British court couldn't take away your French licence (and vice versa) but do please check and make sure. Once banned in the UK though, you certainly can't drive in the UK even if your French licence does remain valid.

As I said earlier, this is something the EU is trying to stop by having EU driving licences.

Don't know what the insurance implications are of foreign convictions - I would imagine if a Brit called their UK insurance company and said they'd been banned in France then the insurance company might refuse to insure them (or they might not care - don't know).
Caught drink driving - Sofa Spud
One year disqualification, almost certainly.

Edited by Sofa Spud on 02/02/2009 at 17:20

Caught drink driving - rtj70
Certainly disqualification. And you said you drove from France so a LHD car which would be difficult to sell. Can you get it back to France before then or you have a car in the UK which is of no use and not easy to sell.
Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
Well if my french licence will still be valid in France like Bill Payer thinks, I'll manage to get someone to drive me and my car to Edinburgh from where I'll take a ferry all the way to France. I'll ask all those questions to my solicitor (as soon as I find one).
Caught drink driving - rtj70
If you got rid of the car before the hearing you might be shown in a better light - i.e. realising a ban is coming.

Your response to me post makes me think you are trying to get out of the seriousness of your action if you can (as much as possible).

If you leave the car in the UK it needs to be insured still if on a public road.

If you've been here 4 years I assume you must have UK insurance, tax and MOT for the car?
Caught drink driving - BobbyG
Seb, can I ask you a question and honestly, I am not trying to be judgemental here. I have had a run-in with a drunk driver before and I would like to ask why did you drive?
You are saying after a night out, were you there or just went back to get your girlfriend? Did you know you were over the limit and thought you would chance it, or did you honestly not give it a thought? What happened to get you pulled, something must have brought you to the police's attention?

As I am saying, not judgemental or trying to rub salt in the wound, I am just genuinely interested in why people still drink-drive with all the warnings that there are?
Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
No I have been here for a year and a half since I've done my first two years of studies in France. My car is insured in France. Like I said in first post I am not trying to get out of my actions, just seeking a way to get that car back to France (I might give it to my brother for example).

Yes you can. I was at the party as well and at 3am i didn't want my girlfriend to walk home alone. I guess i haven't been wise enough to just walk home with her. There was a police control point and thankfully (yes I said thankfully) I got arrested. I would have had remorse all my life if something had happened to her (or anyone else) that night. Be sure that I am not proud and that I've learned something out of it.

Edited by SebScoFr on 02/02/2009 at 20:11

Caught drink driving - BobbyG
Seb, thanks for that, I appreciate your honesty.
Did you think "Am I over the limit and I will chance it" or did it literally not cross your mind, just automatically got into car and drove? Did your girlfriend not think if you had been drinking?
Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
We were actually both over the limit and I honestly though I was able to make it. The worse think is that I felt alright actually... From now I can assure that nobody will drunk drive as long as I am in the car!
Caught drink driving - oilrag
Seb - don`t beat yourself up too much about it - no one harmed and a lesson learnt.

Regarding any potential moralising - Its worth noting that it was almost `normal` here to drink and drive a a few decades back - a large percentage of the population did it.I suspect that even today for many people, its fear of getting caught - rather than caring about others that stops them.

The Great and the Good will often wriggle like worms on a hook to try to find a loophole to escape punishment - without showing a hint of remorse.

All the best with your studies.

Edited by oilrag on 02/02/2009 at 20:42

Caught drink driving - BobbyG
Again, cheers Seb for your honesty, I appreciate it.

And no moralising from me, as I have said before on here, I am pretty sure that I, as well as many others, would not be able to put hand on heart and say they had never driven over the limit in the morning after the night before.
Caught drink driving - woodster
SebScoFr - once disqualified in the UK a Uk record is created at DVLA and is accessible to the Police, amongst others. But previous posters are quite right, your French driving licence cannot be suspended by a UK court.

Note for the future - If you live here, you cannot rely on a French insurance policy. You must have UK insurance since you have become resident, albeit temporarily.

Whilst not wishing to contradict other contributors, in my 24 years experience, selling the car will make no difference to the court whatsoever. Behave properly in court and expect at least a years ban and fine.
Caught drink driving - ifithelps
... selling the car will make no difference to the court whatsoever....

Selling the car demonstrates to the bench the defendant has no intention of driving during the ban.

Keeping the money back to pay the fine shows the defendant is taking the matter seriously.and respecting the court process.

These small things must go in the OP's favour, but how much is hard to say.

A ban is inevitable and for twice the legal limit I reckon 18 months/two years is more likely.

By working hard on his mitigation, the OP might be able to get the fine down a bit from what they might otherwise have imposed.

Caught drink driving - oldgit
Seb - don`t beat yourself up too much about it
Regarding any potential moralising - Its worth noting that it was almost `normal` here to drink and drive a a few decades back - a large percentage of the population....

What on earth do you mean by that it was almost normal to drive and drive a few decades back? It is normal NOW.

In my retirement, I visit pubs several times a week for pub lunches with my partner and should say now I don't touch alcohol when driving. But the pubs are full of people drinking alcohol, either several pints each person or sharing a bottle of wine and these very same people have all arrived in their cars and will get back into them and drive whilst under the influence of alcohol and so nothing has changed.
Meanwhile I sup my J2O's and keep my licence clean.
Caught drink driving - doctorchris
Bobby, I think the answer to your question is that even small amounts of alcohol can seriously impair a persons reasoning and judgement.
Therefore they have a false confidence that they are fine to drive and that they are not going to get caught anyhow.
If you drink, just think how your judgement, in other matters, is impaired.
How attractive has that lass on the other side of the pub suddenly become? How you have no problem with lending that mate some money,etc.
This is why, if any drink is to be consumed, best not take the car with you in the first place.
Caught drink driving - CQ
First offence 12 months mandatory ban, in your case they may consider a longer ban ie 18 months but in either case there is a possibility of being offered a drink awareness course which will cost you about £160 and 16 hours of your time, this then reduces the ban by 25%. Go to court dressed smartly (suit) be honest and apologetic. The fine is means tested you will be given a form to fill out where you state your weekly/monthly income and out goings. Hiring a solicitor my opinion will just use up your money with you getting the same result. Good luck
Caught drink driving - BobbyG
At the risk of upsetting our legal eagles, rather than selling your car in advance etc, would it not be better to turn up in court without a lawyer and admit it and accept you were wrong, show full remorse etc and maybe judge / sheriff will look on this better than turning up with a lawyer hoping to plea for you?
Caught drink driving - ifithelps
In a moderately serious case such as this, the bench will not hold it against you either way.

Some magistrates prefer to deal with defendants who are represented, because the solicitor knows what to say and what not to say and the case runs more smoothly.

With the best will in the world, defendants representing themselves can waste a lot of court time by making inappropriate submissions which the clerk then has to explain to them where they are going wrong.

A solicitor whose done dozens, or even hundreds, of cases knows a lot more about drink driving than his first time offender client.

The solicitor may be able to see mitigation points that can be made in his client's favour that his client cannot see.

On balance, probably better to have a solicitor than not.

Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
Well I will have a solicitor.

I have just found one today and this won't cost me any money since I've got 0 incomes (student) and I am eligible for legal aid. Plus, I think it will be better for me anyway, I've never been facing such a situation before and I'm not sure I can represent myself as well as a solicitor would do, especially in a country which is not even mine.

I will keep you updated after the court.
Caught drink driving - Pugugly
Good move.
Caught drink driving - Lud
Sebastien is obviously a decent and serious chap and I agree with some others that certain comments have been a bit too censorious. I was particularly struck by someone's offhand comment that he was 'drunk' when he drove his girlfriend home and was caught over the blood alcohol limit.

It is most unlikely that being over the legal driving limit would mean a French adult was 'drunk' or anything like it. It is unlikely that his driving was much affected. He was pulled in a random roadside breath-testing operation. It was just bad luck, which he has discussed with us without any attempt at self-justification.

I am not suggesting by the way that people shouldn't take care to stay below the limit when they are driving. But mistakes can happen.

Edited by Lud on 03/02/2009 at 17:51

Caught drink driving - doctorchris
Lud, you open a whole can of worms with your post.
I agree with you in some ways. There are drivers who are incapable and incompetent with no alcohol in their system. There are drivers who would probably be safe even though over the limit.
However the law needs to be kept relatively simple and be applicable to an ordinary citizen.
There's a good case for setting the level of alcohol at just above zero, then everyone knows the score and nobody thinks that they will get away with it as a result of better driving skills, superior metabolism etc.
Caught drink driving - Pugugly
My view - the guy made a mistake, he's been caught, he'll be punished end of. Hopefully he won't do it again. At least he coughed to being fallible which some people have a problem with these days.
Caught drink driving - Lud
Yeah dc, one size has to fit all with traffic regulations.

I am not suggesting the law should be changed. I would say though that the present blood alcohol limit for driving errs if anything a bit on the safe side, as is right perhaps. As you point out, lots of drivers are lethal sober while others are quite competent over the limit.
Caught drink driving - BobbyG
Won't cost you anything - will cost us though with the Legal Aid Bill.
Caught drink driving - grumpyscot
BobbyG - you're so right - why should I pay for this guy's stupidity? By his own admission he drove while drunk. He deserves the penalty. He should not get legal aid.

Rant coming on.................
Caught drink driving - Jonathan {p}
There are plently of worse crimes and criminals who qualify for legal aid. Its all part of being in a society which values justice and freedom. Perhaps you agree with the removal of the right to trial by Jury too? Judge Dredd awaits...
Caught drink driving - ifithelps
Another way to look at it is the state prosecutes the citizen, and out of fairness, the state pays for the citizen to defend himself if he cannot afford to do so.

I've no sympathy for a drink driver.

But the OP is in the position he is because one arm of the state - the police - has arrested him, and another arm - the Crown Prosecution Service - has decided to prosecute him.

Caught drink driving - oilrag
"What on earth do you mean by that it was almost normal to drive and drive a few decades back? It is normal NOW."

I wasn`t seeking to attract a strident - historically corrective trumpet call from the back of the pub ;-)

But rather to offer support to Seb - who is after all - only a young chap a long way from home in a foreign land.

However, next time we go out for a pub lunch we will try a little rubber necking to see how much everyone is drinking ;-)

(there`s some intended humour in this)

Caught drink driving - FotheringtonThomas
support to Seb

I must say I'm very surprised by the supportive tone of contributions to this thread. A distinct change from the usual.
Caught drink driving - oilrag
"A distinct change from the usual."

The bullfrog might not be able to sing an opera - bound as he is by his limited range. But at least he can cease croaking, now and then.

(attempt 342 at humour)

Edited by oilrag on 04/02/2009 at 13:26

Caught drink driving - Bagpuss

Don't want to make a bad situation worse, but you may well get into hot water with the court if you have been in the UK for 4 years and not swapped your french driving licence for a UK driving licence. AFAIK you are allowed to drive in the UK for a maximum of 12 months with a non-UK EU licence, then you have to swap it for a UK one. I'm a bit surprised the police didn't pull you up on this, but you might want to urgently discuss it with your solicitor.
Caught drink driving - commerdriver
I assumed that, as with most students, he goes home for the holidays
Caught drink driving - Lud
he drove while drunk.

Are you 'drunk' after two or three pints or equivalent grumps?

Thought not. So why do you suppose Sebastien was when he drove his girl friend home?
Caught drink driving - Statistical outlier
Drunk after three pints? Absolutely! Having said that, while I like beer immensely, I've never been very good at it. :-)
Caught drink driving - SebScoFr

No, like I said in a previous post I'm in 4th year but I've been in the UK for a year and a half, and I've got my car here only since september. So just a couple of month.
Caught drink driving - madux
It should be pointed out that here Seb is allowed to drive until his court case, unlike in some countries where the police take your licence from you on the spot.
He can drive his own car back to France if he wishes.
Caught drink driving - ifithelps allowed to drive until his court case...

Quite right, he's innocent until proven guilty, and even if he wants to, he can't get convicted until he gets the opportunity to plead guilty in court.

Having said that, any ban starts the second the magistrate passes sentence, so he would be unwise to drive to court because the chances are he will not be able to drive home.

Edited by ifithelps on 05/02/2009 at 11:03

Caught drink driving - oldnotbold
"He can drive his own car back to France if he wishes. "

Unless his insurance policy does not cover him - quite possible that there is a clause in there cancelling insurance in a territory where he can not drive within the law.
Caught drink driving - madux
"He can drive his own car back to France if he wishes. "

Until his court case, I meant!
Caught drink driving - BobbyG
I seem to remember a pilot project whereby anyone caught drink driving was up in court the next day to speed things up? I take it this did not catch on!
Caught drink driving - Fullchat
Prior to the introduction of substantive breath testing devices (the machines in stations), and when they were first introduced, 'clients' were reported for summons. The process took around the two to three month period to get to court. Blood and breath samples were sent away for analysis and dependent on the result summonses were served.
The current practice is to charge and bail to court providing the only evidence is from the substantive breath test machine. This can be done to the next available court date.

Edited by Fullchat on 05/02/2009 at 20:44

Caught drink driving - SebScoFr
As promised a little update after the court this morning.

-18 month ban for driving in the UK
-£400 to be paid within 2 month

Pretty much what I was expecting.
Thanks all for your previous replies.

Caught drink driving - Lud
I hope you aren't too inconvenienced by it Sebastien.

The world now frowns on 'risky comportments' that were not considered all that risky when I was young. Faut s'adapter...
Caught drink driving - madux
Seb -

Je crois qu'il pense a votre comportement risque. Times change. We all took more chances when we were young.