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First Time Drink Driving Offence Ireland.

Updated: May 3, 2023




LET'S GET RID OF one common misconception.


Many people seem to believe that if you’ve never been in trouble before, the court will take this into account when dealing with your first drink driving offence.


They won’t.


Or rather they will, but only in considering what length of disqualification you’ll get or what fine you’ll get.


But if you’re convicted you’ll be disqualified from driving.


That is a guarantee.


For how long?


If it’s your first time in court the length of disqualification depends only on the level of alcohol in your system.



if you plead guilty or are found guilty
you must be disqualified from driving.
Must.
You will also definitely be convicted.
Definitely.


The reason why a disqualification is a guarantee is that judges don’t have a choice.


The judge doesn’t make up the law, they just apply it.


Their job is to referee the competing interests of the State and you, and to apply the law to the decision that they come to.


The law (Road Traffic Act 2010) says that if you plead guilty or are found guilty of drink or drug driving you must be disqualified from driving.


Must.


You will also definitely be convicted.


Definitely.





WE KNOW SOME things.


We know that if we are found guilty of drink or drug driving (or drunk in charge) we will absolutely be disqualified from driving and given a conviction.


So, what does this all mean?


It means that in order to avoid a conviction and disqualification you have to fight the case.

And no, the judge will not be angry at you if you fight the case and lose.


And no, you can’t be given a longer disqualification if you fight the case and lose.


Judges know people who have been convicted of drink driving. Some of these people may be friends or family of theirs.


They also know the consequences for people if they are convicted.


They know that disqualification is mandatory.


They also know just the hardship that this can cause.


So, they understand fully.


The fact that this might be your first time being prosecuted for a drink driving offence doesn’t make much of a difference.







I ONCE WROTE AN article (https://www.phoransolicitors.com/post/how-to-get-off-with-drink-driving-charges) about some of the ways that a drink driving case could be won.


In that article I wrote briefly about 10 cases where we had been successful and the reasons for that.


Some of these cases succeeded because a witness didn’t turn up to court.


Others because a vital piece of documentary evidence wasn’t in court or was used incorrectly.


One of the most unusual was where a police officer had lost his notebook and couldn’t make his statement because he couldn’t recall the exact details.


After all, that’s what notebooks are for.


Other lawyers will have similar experiences.


Last week both my client and I turned up for the trial and were informed that the police officer had resigned from the force.


The case was dismissed.



I once spoke to a Tour de France winner
and he told me that he never learned anything
from any of the races he had won,
only from the ones that he had lost.



The essential point of the article was that cases can collapse because of many different reasons, none of them connected to whether you were over the limit or not.


Let’s fact it, if you’ve been summonsed to court you must be over the limit.


If you weren’t over the limit, you wouldn’t be summoned to court.


That’s simple logic.


But the fact that people are acquitted means that exceeding the legal limit does not automatically mean you’ll be convicted.


What does this mean?


It means that other legal steps must be proven by the State as well.


That’s also logic.


Most people prosecuted for drink driving have never been in trouble before.


They’ve never even set foot inside a courtroom in their lives.


But if they plead guilty or are found guilty, they will definitely be disqualified from driving.


Even if it’s their first time ever being in trouble with the law.






IN LIFE WINNING ISN'T necessarily everything.


In some cases losing is important as it teaches us not be to complacent.


In fact elite athletes sometimes swear by the importance of losing.


I once spoke to a Tour de France winner and he said something to me that made a big impression.


He told me that he never learned anything from any of the races he had won, only from the ones that he had lost.


Defeat had taught him some tough lessons that stood to him when he later won the biggest prize in cycling.



But drink driving isn't like that.


You don't get a second chance to make it right.


Losing means that you're thrown off the road.


And that's something that the majority of people just can't imagine.




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