How Long Does Drink Driving Stay On Criminal Record

Driving under the influence of alcohol, commonly known as drink driving, is a serious offense that puts lives at risk and carries legal consequences. For individuals who have been convicted of drink driving in the United Kingdom, understanding the duration of the offense on their criminal record is essential. The impact of a drink driving conviction can be significant, affecting employment prospects, insurance premiums, and personal reputation.


 In this blog, we will explore the duration of drink driving convictions on a criminal record in the UK, including the legal framework, rehabilitation periods, and the potential for record expungement. By providing this information, we aim to empower individuals with a better understanding of the implications of a drink driving conviction and guide them towards making informed decisions and seeking appropriate support for a brighter future.


Drink Driving Offenses and Penalties in the UK


In the United Kingdom, drink driving is a serious offense that is dealt with under the Road Traffic Act 1988. The law establishes limits for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that drivers must adhere to while operating a motor vehicle. The legal limits are as follows:


  1. 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath
  2. 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood
  3. 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of urine


If a driver exceeds these limits, they can be charged with a drink driving offense. The penalties for drink driving vary depending on the severity of the offense, and they are categorized into different levels:


Low-level drink driving offenses: These involve drivers who are slightly above the legal limit but do not exhibit aggravated circumstances. Penalties may include a fine, a driving ban, and penalty points on the driving license.


Mid-level drink driving offenses: These offenses typically involve higher BAC levels and may result in more severe penalties, such as a longer driving ban, a higher fine, and the possibility of imprisonment.


High-level drink driving offenses: These are the most serious offenses involving significantly high BAC levels. The penalties are more severe and can include a longer driving ban, a substantial fine, and a higher likelihood of imprisonment.


It is important to note that drink driving offenses remain on an individual’s criminal record, which can have long-lasting implications. The duration of the offense on the criminal record varies depending on the specific circumstances and the penalty imposed by the court. In the following sections, we will explore the typical duration of drink driving offenses on a criminal record and the options available for rehabilitation and record expungement.


Criminal Record and Disclosure in the UK


In the United Kingdom, criminal records are maintained by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and are used to assess an individual’s suitability for certain roles and activities. Drink driving offenses are considered criminal offenses, and as such, they can be disclosed on a person’s criminal record.


Rehabilitation Period: In the UK, the length of time a drink driving offense remains on a criminal record depends on the severity of the offense and the penalties imposed. Generally, for less serious drink driving offenses, known as “spent” convictions, the rehabilitation period is as follows:


  • Custodial sentence of 0-6 months: Rehabilitation period is 2 years.
  • Custodial sentence of 6-30 months: Rehabilitation period is 4 years.
  • Custodial sentence of 30 months or more: Rehabilitation period is 7 years.


Disclosure and Rehabilitation: After the rehabilitation period, a drink driving offense may become “spent” and is not usually required to be disclosed when applying for most jobs or activities. However, there are exceptions where certain professions, such as driving jobs, require disclosure of spent convictions relating to drink driving.


Enhanced Disclosure: Certain roles, such as those involving work with vulnerable individuals or children, may require an enhanced criminal record check. In these cases, spent convictions, including drink driving offenses, may be disclosed, even after the rehabilitation period.


It’s important to note that the rules regarding criminal record disclosure can vary depending on the nature of the employment or activity. It is advisable to consult with legal professionals or the DBS for specific guidance and advice.


Overall, while drink driving offenses can have a lasting impact on a person’s criminal record, the rehabilitation period allows individuals the opportunity to move forward and regain a clean record. Rehabilitation, coupled with responsible behavior and adherence to road safety, can contribute to a positive and law-abiding future.


  1. Rehabilitation Periods for Drink Driving Offenses


In the United Kingdom, the length of time a drink driving offense stays on a person’s criminal record is determined by the rehabilitation periods set by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. These rehabilitation periods indicate how long a conviction remains “unspent” on a criminal record before it becomes “spent” and no longer needs to be disclosed in most circumstances.


Rehabilitation Periods


Driving Bans: The length of time a driving ban remains on a person’s record varies depending on the severity of the offense. Typically, the rehabilitation periods for drink driving offenses are as follows:


  • Driving ban of up to 4 years: Rehabilitation period is 5 years.
  • Driving ban of 4-10 years: Rehabilitation period is 10 years.
  • Driving ban exceeding 10 years: Rehabilitation period is indefinite.


Custodial Sentences: If a person receives a custodial sentence in addition to a driving ban, the rehabilitation period for the custodial sentence applies.


Disclosure and Rehabilitation: Once the rehabilitation period has passed, a drink driving offense becomes “spent” and, in most cases, does not need to be disclosed when applying for employment or engaging in certain activities. However, there are exceptions where disclosure is required, such as when applying for specific roles that involve driving or working with vulnerable individuals.


Impact on Insurance: It’s worth noting that even if a drink driving offense becomes spent, insurance companies may still consider it when determining insurance premiums. The offense may have an impact on the cost of car insurance for a certain period, typically up to five years.


It’s essential to consult with legal professionals or seek guidance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for accurate and up-to-date information regarding rehabilitation periods and disclosure requirements specific to individual circumstances.


Understanding the rehabilitation periods for drink driving offenses helps individuals navigate the process of rebuilding their lives and making positive changes after a conviction. By abiding by the rehabilitation period and demonstrating responsible behavior, individuals can work towards a clean criminal record and a brighter future.


Impact on Insurance and Driving Licenses


Insurance Consequences: A drink driving conviction can have a significant impact on insurance premiums. Insurance companies may view individuals with a drink driving conviction as high-risk drivers, leading to higher premiums or even difficulty in obtaining insurance coverage. The increased cost of insurance can last for several years, even after the conviction is spent.


Driving License Penalties: Alongside the criminal record, a drink driving conviction in the UK also carries penalties related to driving licenses. These penalties include:


Lengthy Driving Bans: Drink driving offenses often result in substantial driving bans, which can range from a minimum of 12 months to several years, depending on the severity of the offense.


Mandatory Alcohol Education Programs: In some cases, individuals convicted of drink driving offenses may be required to attend alcohol education programs as a condition for regaining their driving license.


Re-Testing Requirements: Upon the completion of the driving ban, individuals may need to retake both the theory and practical driving tests before their license is fully reinstated.


Rehabilitation and License Restoration: To restore a driving license after a drink driving conviction, individuals must follow specific steps, including completing any required rehabilitation programs, serving the full driving ban period, and reapplying for a new license once eligible.


It is crucial to note that the specific details regarding insurance consequences and driving license penalties may vary depending on the circumstances of the offense, previous convictions, and individual insurance providers. Seeking advice from legal professionals and insurance companies can provide accurate information regarding the impact of a drink driving conviction on insurance premiums and the steps required for license restoration.


Seeking Legal Advice and Support


Legal Consultation: If you have been charged with a drink driving offense and are concerned about its impact on your criminal record, insurance, and driving license, it is advisable to seek legal advice. A solicitor or lawyer experienced in traffic law can guide you through the legal process, explain the potential consequences, and provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.


Understanding Rehabilitation Periods: Consult with legal professionals to understand the rehabilitation periods associated with drink driving offenses. They can inform you about the duration during which the conviction remains on your criminal record and when it becomes spent. Understanding the rehabilitation periods can help you plan accordingly and make informed decisions about future endeavors.


Exploring Mitigation Options: A skilled legal professional can explore potential mitigation options based on the details of your case. They can analyze the evidence, identify any procedural errors, or develop a strong defense strategy to potentially reduce the impact of the offense on your criminal record.


Supportive Organizations: Seek support from organizations that specialize in helping individuals with drink driving convictions. These organizations can provide guidance, support, and resources to navigate the legal process, address any emotional or practical challenges, and assist in accessing rehabilitation programs.


Remember, it is essential to consult with legal professionals who are well-versed in UK traffic laws and regulations to receive accurate advice tailored to your situation. They can help you understand the specific implications of a drink driving offense on your criminal record and provide the necessary support throughout the legal process.


Rehabilitation and Moving Forward


Accepting Responsibility: Accepting responsibility for your actions is an important step in the rehabilitation process. Recognize the gravity of the offense and the potential harm caused by drink driving. Taking ownership of your mistake is crucial for personal growth and making positive changes in your life.


Attending Rehabilitation Programs: Participating in rehabilitation programs can be beneficial not only for addressing any underlying issues related to alcohol misuse but also for demonstrating your commitment to change. Alcohol education courses, counseling, or support groups can help you develop healthier attitudes towards alcohol and enhance your understanding of the consequences of drink driving.


Driver Retraining Programs: In some cases, attending driver retraining programs may be a requirement to regain your driving privileges after a drink driving offense. These programs focus on improving driving behavior, raising awareness about the dangers of drink driving, and promoting responsible driving habits.


Support Networks: Surround yourself with a supportive network of family, friends, or support groups who can provide encouragement and assistance during your rehabilitation journey. They can offer emotional support, help you stay accountable, and provide valuable insights as you work towards rebuilding your life.


Future Employment and Travel Implications


Employment Opportunities: It’s important to note that having a drink driving offense on your criminal record may impact your employment prospects. Some employers may conduct background checks and consider the offense when making hiring decisions, particularly for roles that involve driving or positions that require a high level of trust and responsibility. However, the impact will vary depending on the nature of the job and the employer’s policies.


Travel Restrictions: A drink driving offense on your criminal record may also have implications for international travel, especially when visiting countries with strict entry requirements. Some countries may deny entry or require additional documentation if you have a criminal record, including drink driving offenses. It’s essential to research the specific requirements of the countries you plan to visit and understand any restrictions that may apply.


Rehabilitation Certificates: In certain cases, individuals may be eligible to apply for rehabilitation certificates after a specific period of time, indicating their rehabilitation and demonstrating that the offense is considered spent. These certificates may help mitigate the impact of the offense on employment and travel prospects. It is advisable to seek legal advice to understand the eligibility criteria and process for obtaining a rehabilitation certificate.


Remember, the duration that drink driving offenses stay on your criminal record in the UK can vary depending on the nature of the offense. It’s crucial to consult with legal professionals who specialize in criminal law to get accurate and up-to-date information tailored to your specific situation.


It’s essential to learn from your mistakes, take responsibility for your actions, and use this experience as an opportunity for personal growth and positive change. By actively participating in rehabilitation programs, making necessary lifestyle adjustments, and seeking support from professionals and support networks, you can move forward, minimize the long-term impact of the offense, and make better choices in the future.


Making Positive Lifestyle Changes: Use this experience as a catalyst for positive lifestyle changes. Evaluate your relationship with alcohol and consider making adjustments to your habits and choices. Adopting a healthier lifestyle, including regular exercise, stress management techniques, and practicing responsible alcohol consumption, can contribute to your overall well-being and help prevent future offenses.




Moving forward after a drink driving offense is a process that requires personal reflection, commitment to change, and a willingness to seek support. By taking the necessary steps towards rehabilitation, attending required programs, and making positive lifestyle changes, you can move past the offense and work towards rebuilding your life in a responsible and law-abiding manner.

Free Callback Service

Our trained addiction counsellors are available 24 hours a day to help you