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Thread: Drink Driving Ban in UK - Driving in Europe

  1. #1
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    Default Drink Driving Ban in UK - Driving in Europe

    I got an 18month driving disqualification for being over the legal limit and was invited by the magistrate to attend a "drink drive awareness" course, which I did.

    On the course I was surprised to learn that a ban or disqualification in the UK is only valid within the UK, and that I am still entitled to drive in mainland Europe ... as long as I have something called a letter of authority or "certificate of entitlement" from the DVLA.

    This particular certificate will not be issued by the DVLA direct to me in the UK but instead will (on request) be faxed direct to (for example) the car hire company abroad.

    I accept my punishment and regret that particular evening but even I was surprised to learn of this fact. Which presumably means there are banned drivers from Europe currently driving perfectly legally within the UK.

    Has anybody else heard of this, or has anybody had to use this certificate in the past due to a disqualification of any kind? just curious as to what people think and their experiences really...

  2. #2
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    I'm sorry I can't answer your question but just a thought (and not a judgement): would the average car hire company who would normally accept you hiring their cars without further ado, change their mind if they learnt of your conviction?

    By the way, just on a personal note I respect you a great deal for simply coming on here and admitting your mistake and remorse, obviously you can't travel back through time so there's no point lecturing you as it has already happened. Best of luck with your future motoring.
    Last edited by 98selitb; 20-05-09 at 13:29. Reason: spelling mistake

  3. #3
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    Haven't come on here for recrimminations, but I understood that the UK and Europe have a reciprocal arrangement, whereby a ban in the UK applies in Europe and vice versa. I do know that if you are picked up on a camera for speeding in France (just prior to returning to the UK), you can still face prosecution in the UK for that offence.

    I would make doubly sure of the facts before going abroad. Even supposedly "knowledgable" authorities can get it wrong.

    Best wishes, Snowball.

  4. #4
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    ... just to clarify, remarkable as it may seem, if you are disqualified in the UK and lose your driving license, this does not mean you are banned from driving a car in Europe... thats an undisputed fact... believe me, when I was told about it I was stunned.

    You can call the DVLA themselves for verification. The DVLA themselves provide the documentation to the foreign car hiring company to allow you to do it, even though they are aware of your conviction or offence...

    Of course, whether the european car hire company would accept you as their client is another subject altogether but I will keep you informed of my own progress on this front...

  5. #5
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    I think the problem here is that the law makers are drinkers themselves some heavy, probably on the tax payers, so they will always leave wriggle room.

    Humanities love of alcohol is completely illogical, we drink to reduce our inhibitions, if this works then we become less inhibited about drinking, also less inhibited about driving?

    Ok so ‘we have to drink to be sociable’. What sort of friends are they that cannot be faced sober?

    In the past, no amount of reasoned argument had any effect on drink driving; the only thing that has really worked is to make it socially less acceptable. In the not too distant past anyone caught, generally bragged about it, hairs on the chest stuff, now less so.

    I am not fully conversant with what is included in the modern driving test but proof of knowledge of how alcohol impairs brain function ought to be included. Not so much how reaction times change, more on the effect it has on judgement.

    Now I have got that off my chest I need a drink...........................!

    No, Tea honest.
    Last edited by wagolynn; 20-05-09 at 12:06.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by wagolynn View Post
    ...No, Tea honest.
    I agree about the drink awareness thing... the course I attended over 4 sessions was perhaps the most useful driving related information I've ever been given. It informs you about the dangers of alcohol (most is obvious), but also gives you the knowledge to calculate your alcohol consumption and more importantly, whether you will or will not be above or below the legal limit... this is particularly useful for people that falsely believe they are fine to drink the morning after the night before... it is so useful it should form part of the driving test I believe.

    the old tactic of police cars pulling you over at 15 minutes after closing time is a bit of an urban myth now... the vast majority of people these days are caught on their way to work between 7am and 9am... completely unaware that having consumed alcohol the night before that they may still be over the legal limit, the body only removes alcohol from the body via the liver at a constant rate of 1 unit per hour... and nothing you eat, nothing you drink, and no amount of exercise changes that constant rate.

    Its a bit of an eye opener to suddenly realise that for years I'd probably been driving the morning after the night before and been legally over the limit, even if you just feel groggy and perfectly sober... you can still be well over...

    if anybody doesn't know how to calculate it, you do the following sum:

    ABV * Volume / 1000 = No Of Units

    e.g.

    If you drink 2 large glasses (250ml) of Red Wine with an ABV (Alcohol By Volume) of 14%... (read the wine label and it always states the % of alcohol content)...

    so you calculate 14 * 500ml and divide by 1000...

    the answer is 7 Units... in the UK an average MAN would fail a breath test at 5 units, and an average woman would fail the breath test at just 3 units...

    The other important thing to understand is that the liver is the only organ in the body that will break alcohol down, and no amount of bread or milk beforehand will stop the alcohol you later consume from entering your bloodstream, if if goes in your mouth it will enter your bloodstream...

    the Liver starts to break down alcohol after one hour and at the constant rate of one unit per hour... so assuming you went out for lunch at 1pm and had two large glasses of wine before heading back to work at 2pm ... you would not be legal to drive again until at least 7pm for a woman and 5pm for a man.

    Now if like me, you've had the odd night where you've drunk perhaps 4-5 pints of strong beer followed by a curry and a couple of irish coffees, then got up early to play golf in the morning... you can see why the police have changed their tactics for targeting the morning driver...

    in my example, in hindsight, I would have consumed perhaps 15 units... assuming I started drinking at 9pm and went to bed at 1am... by my calculation I would not have been legal to drive until at least 9am the next day... when the alcohol level in my body would have reduced to just 4 units... so driving at 7am in the morning even though I may have felt sober as a judge after 6 hours of sleep, I would have still had 6 units in my blood, and would have failed a breath test by some considerable margin... and received a minimum ban of at least 12 months...

    ... pretty sobering stuff... no pun intended!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by d1jpa View Post
    the old tactic of police cars pulling you over at 15 minutes after closing time is a bit of an urban myth now... the vast majority of people these days are caught on their way to work between 7am and 9am... completely unaware that having consumed alcohol the night before that they may still be over the legal limit, the body only removes alcohol from the body via the liver at a constant rate of 1 unit per hour... and nothing you eat, nothing you drink, and no amount of exercise changes that constant rate.

    Its a bit of an eye opener to suddenly realise that for years I'd probably been driving the morning after the night before and been legally over the limit, even if you just feel groggy and perfectly sober... you can still be well over...

    if anybody doesn't know how to calculate it, you do the following sum:

    ABV * Volume / 1000 = No Of Units

    e.g.

    If you drink 2 large glasses (250ml) of Red Wine with an ABV (Alcohol By Volume) of 14%... (read the wine label and it always states the % of alcohol content)...

    so you calculate 14 * 500ml and divide by 1000...

    the answer is 7 Units... in the UK an average MAN would fail a breath test at 5 units, and an average woman would fail the breath test at just 3 units...

    The other important thing to understand is that the liver is the only organ in the body that will break alcohol down, and no amount of bread or milk beforehand will stop the alcohol you later consume from entering your bloodstream, if if goes in your mouth it will enter your bloodstream...
    I am not a heavy drinker, and have always worked on the principle of at least 12 hours after drinking, before driving again.

    In my recent collision by a hit-and-run driver i was automatically breathalised.
    The previous evening, I had consumed a half-bottle of wine with my evening meal (between the period of about 6:00 and 7:00 pm.). The wine was 13% ABV as I remember.
    The next day, I commenced driving at around 1:00 pm, and the incident occurred at 4:30 pm. My breathaliser reading showed ZERO.

    But it does underline just how cautious you need to be. If I was drinking spirits, which is very rare, I would not drive for a minimum of 24 hours.

  8. #8
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    I was driving an ambulance when I was hit by a car which scraped down the whole side of my vehicle. (luckily I had time to swerve to the left) The police came and breathalysed both drivers, and the other driver failed the test!
    Thing was, I was invited to a birthday party the night before, but drink fruit juice all night, as I made a policy of not drinking through the working week. Just as well I did, as I might have failed as well
    Cheers, Smudger.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by d1jpa View Post
    ... just to clarify, remarkable as it may seem, if you are disqualified in the UK and lose your driving license, this does not mean you are banned from driving a car in Europe... thats an undisputed fact... believe me, when I was told about it I was stunned.

    You can call the DVLA themselves for verification. The DVLA themselves provide the documentation to the foreign car hiring company to allow you to do it, even though they are aware of your conviction or offence...

    Of course, whether the european car hire company would accept you as their client is another subject altogether but I will keep you informed of my own progress on this front...
    I know of one person who had an International driving licence who was banned from driving in UK use the former to drive on the continent. I thought, at least in EU if you were banned, you were banned.

  10. #10
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    Default Driving ban

    You're almost correct - if you are disqualified from driving in the UK you could not be charged with driving whilst disqualified in another country. However, the fact that you have been disqualified means that you no longer have a driving licence, so if you were to drive in another country you would be guilty of driving without a licence.

    I am aware there are some firms offering a documentary "fiddle" to get round a ban, but it doesn't work.

    Anyway, every time I have hired a vehicle (here and abroad) I have had to produce a full, valid UK licence - you would not be able to do this so I fail to understand how anyone would even consider hiring you a car!

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