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Drunk in Charge

The offence of being drunk in charge is far less common that that of drink driving. That may be because many drink driving incidents are detected as a result the police witnessing some bad driving. The police will then stop the vehicle, and breathalyse the driver there and then at the roadside. There won’t usually be a question as to whether the driver has actually driven the vehicle. Therefore, if the person is over the drink drive limit, the allegation will be one of drink driving.

When the police haven’t got any concrete evidence that a person who is over the limit has actually driven the vehicle, they may opt instead for an allegation of drunk in charge. This is a less serious offence with potentially less serious penalties.

What’s the difference between drink driving and drunk in charge?

If there is no proof that a person has driven a vehicle, but the person has some degree of control over a vehicle, he is said to be in charge. There is no actual definition in the statutes.

Is there a defence to being drunk in charge?

Yes, if you can prove on the balance of probabilities that at the time of the alleged offence, the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of you driving whilst over the limit.

What are the penalties for being drunk in charge?

It ranges from 10 penalty points up to a lengthy ban and even prison.


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