Getting charged with drink driving can be daunting. It can feel like you’ve just been given a bunch of documents and told to go to court to seal your destiny of a suspended or disqualified license, a hefty fine, or even imprisonment. Although there isn’t a lot you can do about receiving a punishment, there are some things you can do to minimise the penalty received and make the whole process smoother.
Step no.1: Write a Detailed Recount of the Entire Night
As soon as the police have given you the all-clear to return home, begin writing a very descriptive recount of everything that led up to, and everything that happened during, the police encounter. Writing a timeline and filling the details in for each hour is a good start.
This recount needs to include as many details as possible: things like whether you’d planned to be drinking before you left home, what time you started drinking, how much you drank, and whether or not there was an unusual event that occurred which required you to drive.
Step no.2: Gather Your Documents
After being caught for drinking too much prior to driving you’ll be issued several documents and a Court Attendance Notice by the police. Put these in a folder, where you’ll also add a copy of your current driver’s license, any details of a criminal record, a report of any previous traffic offences, and also your detailed recount of the night.
You should also gather evidence of your financial situation, job, family, personal responsibilities, and even references that describe the type of person you are. These can be submitted in court and can assist with minimising your punishment. Just be sure that any written references acknowledge your offence and that it will be presented in court. Also make sure that these references are clear and well written.
Step no.3: Get a Solicitor
Although you’ll need to attend court regardless, a solicitor will be able to represent you in the courtroom. Solicitors know the ins and outs of drink driving offences, which gives them the ability to minimise your penalties and keep you informed about the next course of action. Give the previously prepared documents to him/her and expect an interview of the situation so that everything can be analysed thoroughly.
A solicitor will consider all the details of your situation and then advise you whether to plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ in court. In the event that you were to plead ‘not guilty’ and succeed, all charges will be dimissed; however, unless the police strayed from their standard procedures or a machine was faulty and provided inaccurate results, in most cases won’t have a leg to stand on.
You’re more likely to be advised to plead ‘guilty’ and take a penalty for your actions. To minimise this penalty, or avoid a licence disqualification altogether, your solicitor may instruct you to do things like attending a Traffic Offenders Program or gathering proof that your license is compulsory for employment purposes.
Step no.4: Be Prepared for Court
Be prepared with your documents, dress appropriately, learn the appropriate manner for answering in court, and clarify everything with your solicitor. If either you or your solicitor acts incorrectly or says something in the wrong manner at court your minimal penalty can be put in jeopardy.
The bottom line is that if you’ve been tested and the results show that you were more intoxicated than the law allows while driving, you’re going to have to face court. However, choosing to follow these steps could be the difference between imprisonment, a loss of your driver’s license or avoiding a criminal conviction altogether. Every case is different, but these four steps will make dealing with a drink driving charge all the easier
Bio: The following has been submitted by Lucy Taylor, a criminal law specialist supporting LY Lawyers - experts in the field of criminal nad traffic law. Lucy believes that knowledge has to be spread and often shares her advice through blogging.