car keys and a drink

What Happens if You Crash Your Car While Drunk in the UK

March 28, 2024

It’s a scenario that nobody wants to find themselves in: a lapse in judgement leads to consuming one too many drinks before getting behind the wheel. In the UK, where driving laws are stringent, the legal system has clear consequences for those who decide to drive under the influence. So if you’re wondering about the legal aftermath of a drunk driving accident in the UK, this post will guide you through all the key information you need, including the drink drive limit, general advice advice, and how to navigate the situation responsibly.

What Happens If You Drunk Drive in the UK?

There’s no two ways about it - driving while intoxicated is a serious offence in the UK. The law is clear: if you’re caught driving over the legal alcohol limit, you will face penalties. But what happens if you crash your car while drunk? First, the police will likely conduct a breathalyser test. Failing this test while involved in an accident escalates the situation significantly.

Criminal Charges and Court Proceedings

If you’re found guilty of drunk driving, especially if an accident occurs, you could face severe legal consequences. These range from fines and driving bans to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the incident. In cases where serious injury or fatality occurs, charges can be as severe as manslaughter, so it's essential to understand the gravity of these outcomes and the permanent impact they could have on your life.

Consequences for Personal Injury and Property Damage

Aside from criminal charges, if you're involved in a drunk driving accident, you may be liable for personal injury and property damage claims. Victims can file claims for compensation for injuries, damages, and losses incurred, especially when it comes to damage considered higher up on the car damage categories rankings.

If you find yourself in a situation where the car accident was not your fault, understanding your rights and the process to claim compensation is key. For more information on how to proceed in these instances, refer to our guide on what to do when a car accident isn’t your fault.

What’s the Drink Drive Limit UK?

The UK sets specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for drivers: 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and 50 milligrams in Scotland. It's worth noting that how quickly your body metabolises alcohol can vary based on several factors, so it can be easy to unknowingly exceed these limits. 

Legal Assistance and Support Services

Navigating the aftermath of a drunk driving incident can be overwhelming both emotionally and financially, so if you find yourself facing charges or dealing with the consequences of an accident, seeking legal assistance is usually your best option. Specialist solicitors can provide guidance on your rights, the legal process, and the best course of action, while additional support services can offer counselling and advice to help you deal with the emotional and psychological impact of the incidents.

Preventing Drunk Driving

Let’s be plain and clear: drunk driving accidents not only risk yours and others’ safety, but will also have profound legal and personal implications on your life. By staying informed and making responsible choices, you can help ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. And remember, it’s always better to plan ahead and avoid getting behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. 

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, driving under the influence of alcohol is a choice that carries significant risks and consequences both for you as well as other innocent drivers on the road. If you’re currently facing charges or if you’ve been involved in an accident while intoxicated, remember that making informed decisions and seeking appropriate support can make a substantial difference in navigating these challenging circumstances. While it’s fair to establish that drunk driving is both legally and morally unacceptable, you still have a right to a fair process and support like everybody else.


Can I refuse a breathalyser test in the UK?

Refusing to provide a breath sample when requested by law enforcement is a criminal offence in the UK. This refusal can lead to similar or even harsher penalties than those for drunk driving, including a driving ban, a fine, or imprisonment. The law takes such refusal seriously, as it hinders the police's ability to enforce drunk driving laws effectively.

How does a drunk driving conviction affect future car insurance in the UK?

A conviction for drunk driving significantly impacts your car insurance and can lead to increased insurance premiums, as insurers will view you as a high-risk driver. In some cases, finding an insurer willing to provide coverage can additionally become more challenging. The conviction will also remain on your driving record for 11 years, affecting your insurance rates and availability for a considerable time. It's also important to be honest with insurance providers about any convictions, as failure to disclose such information can invalidate your policy.