Drunk in Charge of a Motor Vehicle Offence Solicitors

The Offence 'Drunk In Charge of a Vehicle' is a serious motoring offence, where, if you are found guilty, you will have your drivers' licence endorsed with a DR10 driving conviction.

A DR10 'Drunk in charge of a vehicle' conviction can lead to prosecution resulting in penalty points, a fine and a custodial sentence of up to 6 months in prison.  It’s important to note that a driver can be charged with this offence even when the police have no evidence to prove the ‘driving’ element of the offence. 

If you are facing a drunk in charge conviction it is vitally important you seek legal advice as early as possible.

We offer the best privately funded defence representation to all motoring offences. We are here to help and we have over a 96% positive result rate. Contact us today to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.

What Does Being Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle Mean?

There is no set definition of exactly what it means to be ‘in charge’ of a vehicle, but you certainly don’t have to be driving.  You don’t even have to be in the vehicle at all.  

In simple terms, it means you are responsible for the control of a motor vehicle while having levels of drugs or alcohol in your blood above the legal limits.

The most common situation for these cases to arise is when a motorist who is in excess of the prescribed limit of alcohol is found inside a car but is not driving.

The difference between ‘drunk in charge’ and ‘drunk driving’ is where the police are unable to prove that you drove.

How is ‘in charge’ of a vehicle defined?

Having possession of the keys is a good indication that you are in fact ‘in control’ of the vehicle.  Being in, or close to, the car significantly enhances the likelihood that you are ‘in charge’ of the vehicle in the legal sense.  It is for the Court to decide whether this is the case or not depending on the circumstances of your case.

If the following three conditions are met, you are likely to be considered drunk in charge of a vehicle:

  • You are unfit to drive through drink or drugs
  • You are in a public place
  • You have the intention of driving

The police will have to prove that you intended to drive.  Unless this can be done, there will be no conviction. 

Examples of being drunk in charge of a vehicle are:

  • Being near the car
  • Being in the general vicinity of the car
  • Sitting in the passenger seat with or without keys in the ignition
  • Being asleep in the car

Basically, anything that indicates to the police that you intended to drive the car at some point in the future, while you were over the limit.

However, if somebody else had driven the vehicle, but they’ve got out leaving you in it, and you were not aware of this, you are not in charge.  

How to Avoid a Drunk in Charge Penalty

If you are drinking alcohol, you can avoid being classed as drunk in charge of a motor vehicle by:

  • Parking on private land
  • Giving your car keys to somebody else
  • Making a booking with a taxi driver to collect you at a prearranged time
  • Organising a lift with somebody else

If you are unfit to drive through drink or drugs, you should take steps to ensure that you don’t fall into the broad category of being ‘in charge’ of a vehicle.

Drunk in charge of a vehicle Offences and the penalties (DR10 conviction)

Being drunk in charge of a vehicle is quite different from facing a drink-drive case. 

A driver can be charged when the police have no evidence to prove the ‘driving’ element of the offence.

For this reason, being found guilty of being drunk in charge of a vehicle is less severe than being convicted of drink driving.

However, there is a mandatory minimum of 10 penalty points, which could lead to a lengthy ban under the ‘totting up’ procedure for offenders who have three points or more on their licence.

Despite an offence of being 'drunk in charge' being deemed as less severe than a drink driving offence, if you have been found to be 'drunk in charge' of a vehicle we highly recommend that you talk to one of our specialist drink driving solicitors.

Drunk in charge of a vehicle (DR10 Driving Conviction) sentencing guidelines

When a magistrates court sentences someone of being ‘drunk whilst in charge of a motor vehicle’ (DR10) they use the following guidelines:

  • 10 penalty points, or a period of disqualification
  • Up to £2500 fine, a community order or a custodial sentence of up to 3 months 


Defending a 'drunk whilst in charge of a vehicle' offence

If you have been charged with this offence then you will need to prove that there was no likelihood of you driving your vehicle whilst you remained in excess of the alcohol limit.

Examples of this could be where a person decides to sleep in their car after a night out and they may have switched the engine on to keep warm. You would have to convince the court however that when you woke up you would not have driven home while still over the limit. To do this you would need to show them evidence of exactly when you intended to drive, if at all, as well as alternatives to driving if you could not, eg public transport etc.

Drivers who can show there was absolutely no chance of them driving whilst over the limit can be acquitted.

We would also check the following:
  • There was evidence that proves the accused was in charge of the vehicle
  • If there were any errors in a procedure by the police. For example, have they followed the correct procedure when taking the sample of blood, breath or urine?
  • Has the sample of blood, breath or urine been tested properly either by the machine or by the analysts in the laboratory?

Section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states:

“The defendant must prove that it was more likely than not that he had no intention of driving whilst the level of alcohol in his breath, blood or urine remained above the prescribed limit in which case, he is not considered to be in charge”

Why choose Brian Koffman & Co?

Through enlisting the services of an experienced motor offence specialist you stand a far greater chance of reaching a satisfactory outcome.

We have vast experience of dealing with these cases and have provided invaluable assistance to other drivers facing prosecution. You can discuss your options free of charge and we will review all the evidence against you and advise you of the strengths and weaknesses of the case.

If we can prove that you had no intention of driving the vehicle until your alcohol level fell below the prescribed limit, we can secure your acquittal. We may find evidence of an inaccurate breath reading or other technicalities that would support your defence. If you plan on pleading guilty to the offence, we will endeavour to ensure that the court imposes the lowest penalty possible – especially if you are at risk of being disqualified.

Contact us today

If you are facing a ‘drunk whilst in charge of a motor vehicle’ conviction it is important you are legally represented. 

Even though this type of offence doesn’t carry a mandatory disqualification period the court can still impose 10 penalty points. Your chances of a better outcome are increased when you have an experienced motoring offence solicitor representing you.

If you need expert advice and representation Motoring Offence Solicitors offer the very best privately funded Drink Driving Defence representation to clients in Manchester and across the whole of the UK.  Call our team today on 0161 832 3852 or complete the enquiry form on the right-hand side of this page.

We’ve successfully defended ‘Drunk in Charge of a Motor Vehicle’ convictions for clients in Manchester, Preston, Liverpool, Derby, London, Birmingham and throughout the rest of the UK for many years.  Contact us today to ensure the best possible outcome.