Winchester Magazine Christmas Issue 2017 Winchester Magazine Christmas Issue 2017 - Page 49

LE G A L M AT T E R S DRINK DRIVING Shentons solicitor Alexandra Chessum explains why legal representation for drink driving offences is essential D riving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol can have life-changing consequences, with an automatic ban and prison sentences of up to six months applied in the most serious cases. be at the roadside, drinking alcohol while waiting for breakdown assistance, or sleeping in a stationary parked vehicle without intending to drive,” Alexandra says. Nearly 2,000 drivers are arrested for drink driving each year in Hampshire, and getting advice from a solicitor is absolutely crucial, says solicitor Alexandra Chessum from Winchester-based Shentons. Even where the evidence is clear-cut, magistrates will consider contributory factors when it comes to sentencing. “Typically, drivers will be breathalysed at the roadside, and if they fail the roadside breath test they can be arrested and taken to a police station, where they will be tested again using an intoximeter,” Alexandra says. “If that test clearly shows the driver is above the legal limit, they will be charged and bailed to attend court. “In cases where there is a dispute about who was driving, a police interview will then take place, and it is at this stage that legal representation is crucial. Anyone who is interviewed under caution by the police is entitled to legal representation during the interview.” Shentons’ solicitors are available for call-out 24/7. Alexandra says, “Often the same solicitor who meets with a client in the police station will zv see the case through to completion. That gives people peace of mind.” Not all cases of drink driving are black and white. “A driver may “We work closely with the probation service to encourage magistrates to consider good character and sentence unpaid work in the community as an alternative to prison,” Alexandra says. “Driving bans can sometimes be reduced through undertaking a drink drive rehabilitation course. Legal representation is also important for mitigation to reduce a ban and a fine if it can be proved this will lead to significant hardship for dependants.” It’s not just for drink driving that clients can find themselves in the dock, however. “Refusing to comply with a test for alcohol can result in up to six months’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine in addition to an automatic ban,” Alexandra says. She adds, “A single rash decision can have enduring consequences. Shentons’ solicitors have both individual and collective experience that is invaluable to achieving the best outcome.” 01962 844544 | 49