My best friend has been going through hell recently - too long a story to go in to in detail but he's a lovely bloke and he has been well and truly financially shafted by his father. Anyway, he lives by the coast and the other day things just got on top of him and he ended up driving down to the beach and just sat in his car and drowned his sorrows. He fully intended to walk home - he only lives ten minutes away by foot so he had no intention of driving, he needs his car for his work and is well aware of how stupid that would have been -but he made the fatal mistake of being in his car, with the heating on so keys were in ignition. Just his luck but a police woman appeared and did him for being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. His lawyer has told him to plead not guilty - but he doesn't know what to do as it would appear that, regardless of the fact that he didn't intend to drive, he is guilty just by being in his car whilst over the limit. Can someone advise? If they take away his licence that will be the final straw - he won't be able to work and, being self-employed, that will be it. We have been best friends for twenty five years and I have never heard him this low.
It's not cut and dried I don't think, Willow - I definitely heard a case recently where someone was undeniably in the vehicle with the keys but with no intention of driving and got off. Can't remember details, will rack brains.
Got this from a solicitor's website:
At some time or another, most people would have at least considered sleeping in their car after a few drinks. Beware as you can be charged with being drunk in charge of a vehicle. The prosecution will consider how likely it was that you were intending to drive the vehicle, for instance whether you still had control of your car keys, or other factors.
I would imagine that the key-in-ignition is the main problem in this situation.
Found it (was in local paper so will have to copy type, not cut and paste)
<<A man found asleep in his van with the engine running later gave a reading over 3 times the legal drink-drive limit.
Magistrates exercised their discretion not to disqualify refrigeration engineer X but fined him £1200 and endorsed his licence with 10 penalty points (so I hope your mate has less than 3 on his atm, Willow)
The court heard that he had taken his mother out on Mothering Sunday and then stayed on in the pub drinking with friends.
When police found him at 11.20pm he was slurring his speech to the extent that the police could not understand what he was saying.
Mr DF (defending) said X lived about 15 mins walk from where his van was parked. He had got in the van to collect his jacket and 2 mobile phones and had called his girlfriend while sitting in the van.
"He started the engine because it was a cold night and after he had spoken to his girlfriend he fell asleep" said Mr F.
The magistrates said that they accepted the explanation put forward.>>
If you want specifics, CAT me and I'll send them to you. Circumstances seem quite similar (except that your mate was drinking in the car I suppose).
Do you think there's any point in explaining how shite his current situation in - to illustrate that he is not the sort of person who usually sits in his car, staring out to sea, drinking? Or will they only be concerned about the actual circumstances at the time?
Well presumably his solicitor will have the best idea - should have the best idea - about what the local magistrates will think. I mean you and I would obv consider the current circumstances extenuating (??) but I don't know if they would or not - they might think ah, he will do it again when he gets fed up.
If he has a clean driving record so far that should count for him but who knows how their minds work? Could do with coddy here!
I work in this area of law and there is a defence available. def has to prove on balance of probabilities that he would not have driven whilst alcohol in his blood was above prescribed limit. He should take his solicitor's advice because he only has to prove that it was more likely that he would n't have driven whilst over limit - He may have to get an expert's report on when he would have been Ok to drive and then take it from there
This happened to a friends DP he was in a lay by asleep with the engine on and the seatbelt around him. He was still prosecuted for drink drving given a 12 month ban reduced to 9 months with the course thingie. Don't know if your friend would get a more lenient sentence. This guy deserved it he had driven to the layby afterall and was always driving whilst drunk.
My DP was prosecuted for drink driving a few years ago it was the morning after he had had a good few drinks the night before but was asleep by 9.30pm, he had an accident 9pm the next morning and was breathalised and was 5 points over the legal limit, he was still over but it shows you how easy it is to think you are ok but you're not.