Drunk in Charge Lawyers in Glasgow

If you are in charge of a motor vehicle while over the limit, you are committing an offence. Our solicitors will do everything we can to keep 10 penalty points off of your licence, and get you back on the road.

How we can help

Legal Advice and Defence for Drunk in Charge

The most common way that people commit the offence of being drunk in charge is by sleeping in the car whilst drunk. Many are often unaware that you cannot be seated within or asleep inside a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol, and the decision to do so is usually for a sensible reason. For example, a person has been on a night out drinking, and decided to sleep in their car instead of drive home, or can’t afford transportation/accommodation for the night.

At Neil Kilcoyne Solicitors, we understand the potential impact of licence points or a driving ban on your employment, family obligations, and car insurance arrangements. That’s why our team of expert drunk in charge solicitors are dedicated to offering expert legal guidance and robust defence in court if you’re facing charges of being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

What is drunk in charge?

The prosecution brings forward this charge when there is insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant operated a vehicle. It’s important to make the distinction that being drunk in charge of a vehicle is different to drink-driving. However, if the court deems there was a possibility that the driver could have operated the vehicle while still exceeding the drink-drive limit, they would be considered guilty of being drunk in charge. 

To determine whether a person was ‘in charge’ of their vehicle at the time of the suspected offence, the court will assess various factors, including:

  • The proximity of the individual to their vehicle
  • Their location within the vehicle, if inside
  • The whereabouts of the keys
  • Whether the engine was running
  • Any indication of an intent to drive the vehicle


Determining ‘intent’ to drive a vehicle while intoxicated is typically based on available circumstantial evidence. For example, evidence of intent to drive drunk can include:

  • If a person is found intoxicated within a vehicle with the keys, they may be considered to have intended to drive, even if they’re not seated in the driver’s position.
  • Factors such as the vehicle’s engine running, keys in the ignition, the individual being seated in the driver’s seat, or statements indicating their intention to drive. 
  • The vehicle’s location and position may be considered, such as whether it’s parked in a manner suggesting imminent use or in a pub car park late at night.


However, it’s crucial to understand that intent to drive while under the influence of alcohol isn’t necessary for a charge of being ‘drunk in charge.’ Merely being in control of a vehicle while exceeding the legal alcohol limit can lead to conviction, regardless of whether there was an intent to drive.

The prescribed drink-drive limits for being intoxicated while in control of a vehicle are the same as those for driving under the influence:

Alcohol Level
TestingMicrograms per 100 millilitres

How Can a Drunk in Charge Solicitor Help?

If you are charged with this offence, it may feel like there’s nothing you can do in the face of the law. However, with a road traffic solicitor by your side, you have the opportunity to challenge the accusation with confidence. The legal support of a solicitor is indispensable when it comes to navigating the complex legislation and jargon around carless driving charges. 

At Neil Kilcoyne Solicitors, our skilled lawyers are committed to advocating for your best interests, and will provide the necessary legal counsel you need to ensure you’re assured in your knowledge throughout the legal proceedings. We’ll support you at every stage, offering guidance through the entire process.

Our solicitors will look at your case holistically, and establish some key aspects, which include:

  • The burden of proof rests with the accused and the standard of proof is ‘on the balance of probabilities.
  • The balance of probabilities is a lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • The defence can be established by uncorroborated evidence. This means the defence can be established by evidence of the accused alone.


If you believe you have a case, get in touch with our expert motoring solicitors for specialist legal advice and steadfast representation.

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Penalties for a Drunk in Charge Offence in Scotland

To secure a conviction, the Crown & Procurator Fiscal Service must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were in control of the vehicle while exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit. Usually, the court considers this requirement met if evidence shows you were inside the vehicle while over the limit, even if you were in the back seat sleeping or if the keys were not in the ignition.

If you’re found guilty in court, the penalties for this offence include:

  • 10 penalty points
  • Discretionary disqualification


However, Section 5(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that there is a defence if, at the time of the alleged offence, the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of you driving the vehicle whilst over the prescribed alcohol limit.

Though this defence only needs to be proven to the lower standard of the balance of probabilities, it can often be challenging without expert legal representation from a specialist road traffic lawyer. The court will assess various factors to determine the likelihood of driving while over the limit, including your position in the vehicle, the location of the keys, whether the ignition was on, and your alternative transportation plans.

Get in Touch With Our Solicitors

Just because you’ve been charged with a drunk in charge offence, doesn’t always mean you’re guilty. If you have been accused of being in charge of a vehicle whilst drunk, get in touch with our motoring solicitors at Neil Kilcoyne Solicitors, and we can provide expert legal advice for your case. 

We can also help with drink-driving, careless driving, and driving uninsured cases.

Free, no-obligation consultation

If you have been charged with a road traffic offence, you need to take advice right away. We have solicitors available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for advice.


According to Scottish law, Section 5(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that there is a defence if, at the time of the alleged offence, the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of you driving the vehicle whilst over the prescribed alcohol limit.

The different between drunk in charge and drunk driving, is that drink driving results in an automatic ban, whereas being drunk in charge does not. Being drunk in charge is used in situations where there’s no direct evidence of driving. Typically, the accused individual is found in the vehicle, but this isn’t always the scenario; you can still face charges even if you’re outside the vehicle with the keys in your possession.

(1) If a person— (a) drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, or. (b) is in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood, or urine exceeds the prescribed limit he is guilty of an offence.