Are there mitigating factors against a drink-driving charge?

If you have been convicted of a drink-driving charge, you may be able to have your sentence or disqualification reduced if you can convince the court that mitigating factors should be taken into account.

What are mitigating factors?

Mitigating factors are circumstances that can partially explain why the offence happened and help make it more understandable. Although mitigating factors won’t fully excuse the offence, they can reduce the culpability of the offender and help to assure the court that it won’t happen again.

There are a number of circumstances that the court may take into account as mitigating factors. These include genuine remorse, no previous criminal convictions, cooperation with police, an early guilty plea, a clean driving licence, and circumstances beyond the offender’s control that may have caused the offence.

In addition, you will have to explain to the court how the offence occurred and the effect that the proposed punishment will have on your life. The court may also want to hear what steps you will take to ensure you do not repeat the offence in the future. For example, taking a voluntary course to learn how to deal with alcohol dependence.

What might a plea of mitigation achieve?

Putting forward a successful plea of mitigation can make a huge difference to the outcome of your drink-driving conviction. Whether or not it’s successful depends on how relevant the plea is and how it is put across to the court. This is where legal advice from a qualified drink-driving solicitor becomes invaluable. Not all mitigating factors will be relevant in every case and a solicitor will have the expertise to determine the most relevant mitigating factor for you - if there is one.

If you put forward an irrelevant plea, you will have wasted the court’s time and this could lead to a more severe sentence. Therefore it is advisable to speak to a criminal lawyer before putting forward a plea of mitigation.