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Rules and regulations

What is the penalty for drink driving?

If you drive over the legal alcohol limit then you face serious penalties depending on how much you're over by, your reaction to being stopped, and any damage or injury you've caused.

The particular penalty for a drink driving offence is decided by the court but there are GOV.UK guidelines for various offences.

The penalties

1Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

  • 3 months’ imprisonment
  • Up to £2,500 fine
  • A possible driving ban

2Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • Up to £5,000 fine
  • A driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

3Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • Up to £5,000 fine
  • A ban from driving for at least 1 year

4Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink

  • Up to 14 years’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A ban from driving for at least 2 years

With a drink driving record, you could also face:

  • A significant increase in your car insurance costs
  • Problems getting or keeping a job that involves driving
  • Difficulties with travel to other countries, including the USA

Find out more about drink driving penalties on GOV.UK.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .