High risk offenders in the UK are subject to more stringent conditions. Proving that one is fit for driving is essential after having had acquired this status.
Currently, the offender’s driver’s license is not re-issued automatically after the end of the disqualification period. It is also necessary to pass a medical examination.
The scheme for high risk offenders, imposed by the Department for Transport, along with other authorities, is designed to prevent unsafe drivers from being on the roads.
Read below to find out what are the criteria to qualify as a high risk offender and how our team of driving solicitors can help you.
How are high risk offenders qualified?
Data from the Department of Transport on the drink-drive accidents that took place in 2016 shows that there were 6,070 drink-drive accidents in the United Kingdom. Most unfortunate is the fact that the number of casualties from these accidents was 9,040.
Persistent high-risk drink driving is discouraged in the UK through a scheme that qualifies high risk offenders and sets special conditions for their re-licensing.
One is considered a high risk offender in the following cases:
- Convictions: the individual was convicted of 2 drink driving offences within 10 years;
- Alcohol limits: was driving with al alcohol level starting from 87.5 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of breath;
- Offering samples: he or she refused to provide samples of breath, urine or blood to test for the alcohol level;
- Not allowing the use of samples: the individual refused to allow a sample to be tested for alcohol (if the sample was collected when he or she was unconscious).
The alcohol limits in case of blood and urine are of 200 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or 267.5 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine.
|No. of driving offences to be considered a high risk offender||
2 driving offences within 10 years
Alcohol percentage while driving in case of high risk offenders
|Alcohol reading of at least 87.5 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of breath|
|Refusal to cooperate with the police||Refusal to give the police a sample of breath, blood, urine to test for alcohol percentage|
|Refusal to allow for sample testing||
Refusal to allow for the test of the sample, even if taken when unconscious
|Mandatory medical examination for high risk offenders||Yes|
|Conditions for the medical examination in the UK||
Doctor appointed by the Driver and
|What is included in the medical examination||Blood test, medical history, questionnaire, medical examination and other tests, if relevant for the case|
|Conditions to re-obtain the license||Prove that one is fit to drive again|
|When to re-apply for the license||After the end of the disqualification|
|Mandatory documents||Special filled in renewal form sent to the DVLA, the medical examination results, other documents as needed|
|Special conditions for drivers with a history of abuse||The restoration of the driving license can be refused for those with alcohol dependence; in some cases, the individual will need to prove that he/she has successfully completed a period of abstinence|
|Temporary driving license allowed||Only in limited cases, when alcohol dependency is unsure|
|Right to appeal the decision in the UK||Yes|
|High risk offender notification||No. The sentencing court does not send a notification to inform someone that he/she has this status|
|Legal assistance for high risk offenders in the UK||Complete legal advice, representation and mitigation when possible from our team of driving solicitors|
We remind our readers of the main drink driving offences in the UK, as defined by lawmakers:
- Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink;
- Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink;
- Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis;
- Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink.
Data provided by the Department of Traffic suggests that drivers may be prone to a combination of different offences, including driving or attempting to drive when unfit through alcohol (Section 5) or drugs (Sections 5 for drinking and 4 for drugs of the Road Traffic Act 1988) and failing to provide a specimen or give permission for a laboratory test of a specimen of blood when suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1988).
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in the UK also provides data to support the idea that there are drivers who have more than one alcohol and/or drug driving offence, also including the offence for failing to provide a specimen:
- 9,233 grand total of drivers who had more than one alcohol offence;
- 4,288 drivers who had an alcohol offence and had failed to provide a specimen;
- 1,828 drivers who had both an alcohol offence and a drug offence;
- 74 drivers who had an alcohol offence, a drug offence and had failed to provide a specimen.
The data was provided by the DVLA for 2019.
Presently, there are no separate sanctions for high risk offenders who drive both under the influence of drinks and drugs.
Failing to provide the specimen for analysis or allow for its collection is in itself an important offence since it is a clear indication of the driver’s reticence in revealing the consumption of alcohol, drugs or both.
In fact, failure to provide a specimen for analysis when stopped by the police or later on is often liked to other drink driving offences.
We invite you to watch a video about these types of offenders:
What are the requirements for the DVLA medical examination?
The compulsory medical examination for high risk offenders is performed only by a DVLA doctor.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is the one that will refer the offender to the physician (the individual will receive the doctor’s details so that he or she can schedule the mandatory appointment at a convenient time).
The following are expected from high risk offenders during the medical examination:
- fill in a questionnaire about the medical history and the alcohol consumption habits;
- undergo a physical examination;
- take blood tests.
The blood test is the Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin (CDT) test (simply referred to as the CDT test), based on a sensitive biomarker that is able to identify heavy alcohol consumption over a prolonged period.
The CDT test is a reliable one for chronic alcohol consumption with levels below 1.3% considered normal and above 1.6% abnormal or indicating chronic alcohol abuse.
Our team can give you more details about how the results are used and whether or not they can be contested.
The medical examination is not free of charge. The offender is the one who pays for it.
What are the penalties for drink driving offences?
Individuals found guilty of drink driving in the UK are either disqualified, or subject to a fine or imprisonment.
The severity of the offence is the one that determines the final penalty.
When disqualified, one will need to apply for a new licence. This is done by filling in a special form 90 days before the disqualification period ends, end sending it to the DVLA in order to reapply for the licence. The doctor’s appointment mentioned above is scheduled once the DVLA has received the request for a new licence.
Seeking proper medical consultation for treating any existing drink or drug problems is advisable during the disqualification period so that the individual can pass the mandatory medical examination for the new licence.
In some cases, those who are disqualified from driving for 12 months or more can reduce their penalty if they take a drink-drive rehabilitation course. A drink drive solicitor from our team can give you more details, if this applies in your case.
Lawmakers regard high risk offenders as an important category of unsafe drivers due to their propensity to disregard traffic legislation.
There is ample evidence that consuming alcohol with drugs, especially a common combination such as cannabis and alcohol is an accumulated risk on the part of the driver which can result in road traffic collisions, which can sometimes prove fatal.
High risk offenders who are not only accused of drink driving but also drug driving should especially seek specialized legal assistance when found guilty of a road traffic offence.
Changes while disqualified and your new licence
The disqualification period can vary for high risk offenders in the UK, as the main condition is for them to be able to prove that they are fit to drive again.
This means that the individual could see other changes in his or her life during this time.
It is important to remember that any address or name change while disqualified is to be reported to the DVLA.
The license number will also be included in the notice sent to the DVLA, along with the individual’s old and new address and/or old and new name.
When the offender is required by the court to take another driving test before being able to drive again, he or she will apply for a provisional licence.
The disqualification period will end once the ban is over and if the person passed the tests (medical and driving tests, if needed).
For a new driving test, the examination will be both a theory one and a practical test.
The theory test can only be scheduled if the applicant has a provisional driving license. It includes two parts, one with multiple-choice questions and one based on a video test for hazard perception.
The driving test is only booked once the applicant passes the theory test. The examination will focus on the individual’s ability to drive safely and observe the Highway Code (which will be apparent from the way one drives).
When one fails the first driving test, he or she will be able to book one again after 10 days.
An extended practical test can also be ordered by the court. The duration of the extended practical test for regaining the licence is at least 1 hour and it is subject to larger fees.
Special conditions apply to different categories of licenses. For example, Category C (for large vehicles) or Category D (for busses) are subject to the approval of the local traffic commissioner.
Foreign nationals residing in the UK who need to take the driving test to end their disqualification do not need to apply for a provisional licence. They will use their EU driving licence when taking the test.
Drink driving sentencing
As previously mentioned, high risk offenders are those individuals who were convicted of two or more drink driving offences in a 10-year period or who were found to have an alcohol reading above a certain value, as well as those who refused to comply with the requirements of the police.
However, while this classification is clear, the manner in which a drink driving case is judged relies on a number of factors which are referred to as the Magistrate’s courts sentencing guidelines.
Offences are sentenced by taking into account several factors and, in performing their duties, sentencers use principles that allow them to deliver just and proportionate sentences each time an offender has committed more than one offence.
The following sentencing guidelines apply in case of the offence of excess alcohol (in charge):
- factors that increase seriousness: for a high risk offender, the fact that he or she has previous convictions; the failure to comply with current court orders, the offence was committed on post-sentence supervision, or other factors;
- factors that can reduce seriousness: spiked drinks, remorse, good character, sole or primary carer for dependents, and others.
Our driving solicitors can give you more information on the other factors that can mitigate a sentence even if you were previously convicted of a drink drive offence and are now considered a high risk offender.
As part of the general factors that could reduce the seriousness of a drink driving offence the Magistrates will also take into account if the individual had no previous or relevant convictions – understandably, this cannot be the case for high risk offenders.
Assistance to the prosecution can be a factor that determines a reduction of the sentence. A guilty plea can also provide a potential reduction.
Our solicitors will be able to assist you according to your case particulars with more information on how your case could be sentenced.
Qualified assistance for high risk offenders from our team
Our driving offence solicitors can help those who have been disqualified from driving and have acquired the status of a high risk offender.
If you are a repeat offender (were convicted of two drink driving offences within the last ten years) or were driving with an alcohol reading that qualifies you as a high risk offender, our team can help you.
Specific penalties apply for one’s noncompliance when being required to provide breath, blood or urine samples for testing. We can also represent your interests if you have refused to comply with these requirements when asked by the police.
Contact us for more information on how high risk offenders are subject to penalties.
Our driving offence solicitors in London can also answer other questions related to any type of driving offence. Please reach out if you need details about a particular issue.