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Drunk In Charge – ‘Just sleeping it off’… you may want to think twice!

November 23, 2016 by in category Drunk In Charge, News with 0 and 0
Home > News > Drunk In Charge > Drunk In Charge – ‘Just sleeping it off’… you may want to think twice!
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It’s a scenario that many people may be unfortunate enough to find themselves in…

It’s the early hours of Sunday morning and you’re just leaving the bar after a heavy Saturday night out drinking with friends. You realise you have missed the last train home, so decide to just sleep in your car for the night until you are sober. It’s cold, so you start up your car just to put the heaters on. Then fall asleep, blissfully unaware of the trouble you could find yourself in. The next thing you know, there is a police officer tapping on your window and you’re breathalysed and arrested. Your gut reaction is ‘But officer, I wasn’t driving, I was just sleeping it off until the morning’… well unfortunately for you, you do not have to be driving to be guilty of an offence.

Being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle offence

Whilst you are not driving with excess alcohol in this situation and therefore, logically, are not ‘drink driving’, you could be charged with the offence of being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. This is an offence in itself and it does not contain any requirement for you to have actually driven the vehicle.

Rather unhelpfully, there is no legal definition of what being ‘in charge’ of a vehicle actually means, therefore it is for the Court to decide whether or not they believe you to have been ‘in charge’ of your vehicle whilst over the limit. It’s arguably difficult to be ‘in charge’ of anything whilst fast asleep! But, for example, if your keys were in the ignition and the engine was switched on, the Court may be more likely to find that the offence has been committed.

What are the driving ban under totting up rules?

Although being drunk in charge is less serious than drink driving, it still carries with it some hefty penalties and, perhaps worse for some people, a criminal record upon conviction. As a starting point, the Court will endorse your licence with 10 penalty points, which of course, could lead to a driving ban under totting up rules should you already have current points on your licence. At the opposite end of the scale; if the level of alcohol in your breath sample exceeds 120µg per 100ml of breath (which is nearly 4x the legal limit) you could be facing a community order, disqualification from driving or even a custodial sentence!

Whilst this may seem like absolute madness, it is not all doom and gloom. There are certain statutory defences available to this offence; these are reasons written in legislation, which, if accepted in evidence by a court, they should find you not guilty of the offence. If you can prove that, it was more likely than not that either you would not have driven or that you had no intention of driving whilst still over the legal limit, your innocence should be proven.

Is it a criminal offence to sleep in your car whilst drunk?

So, to sum it all up, yes, you can be charged with a criminal offence for sleeping in your car whilst drunk and yes, you can defend the charge if you are persuasive enough… There are also numerous strategic defences we are likely to be able to add to the mix if you choose to engage us to represent you. However, our advice has to be that you might want to think twice before putting your head down!  It’s probably best to just leave the club a little early or catch a taxi home!

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