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Drink driving & consequences of driving while under the influence

Drink or drug driving is a serious offense in the UK, with severe consequences that extend beyond legal penalties. The government’s efforts to deter such behaviour include a range of punitive measures, as well as educational initiatives to highlight the dangers and implications of driving under the influence.

Legal Consequences

  1. Imprisonment: Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit can result in up to 3 months of imprisonment. For driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drink, this increases to 6 months. In extreme cases, such as causing death by careless driving when under the influence, life imprisonment is a possible outcome.

  2. Fines: Fines vary depending on the severity of the offense. They can go up to Β£2,500 for being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit. For more serious offenses, such as driving while unfit or refusing to provide a specimen for analysis, the fines are unlimited.

  3. Driving Ban: A driving ban is a common penalty, lasting at least 1 year for driving above the legal limit or refusing to provide a specimen. The ban can extend for at least 5 years for causing death by careless driving under the influence. Repeat offenders within 10 years can face a 3-year ban.

  4. Rehabilitation Course: Offenders banned for 12 months or more may reduce their ban by participating in a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme (DDRS) course, subject to court approval.

Additional Implications

  1. Insurance Costs: A conviction for drink-driving significantly increases car insurance costs, reflecting the heightened risk associated with such drivers.

  2. Employment Impact: For those who drive for work, a conviction is visible on their licence, which can affect their employment status and opportunities.

  3. International Travel Restrictions: Convicted individuals may face difficulties when traveling to certain countries, like the USA, which may restrict entry based on criminal records.


The consequences of drink or drug driving in the UK are extensive and designed to serve as a deterrent. They not only affect the legal standing and financial situation of the individual but also have broader implications on their personal and professional life. These measures underline the seriousness with which the UK treats driving under the influence, emphasizing the importance of responsible driving for the safety of all road users.

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