There are prescribed legal limits for the proportion of alcohol permitted to be in your breath (35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of breath), blood (80 microgrammes per 100ml of blood) and urine (106 microgrammes per 100ml of urine) before an offence is committed.
The penalty for drink driving is a minimum 12 month period of disqualification and an unlimited fine. In the more serious cases, a custodial sentence can be imposed. If this is your second conviction for drink driving within a 10 year period you will be facing a minimum 3 year period of disqualification.
If the Police reasonably suspect that you have consumed alcohol and that you are the driver or in charge of a vehicle, they have the power to require you to provide a specimen of breath. This is usually in the form of a road side breath test in the first instance. This is a non-evidential test and if you provide a reading which exceeds the limit, it will give the Police the power to arrest you and require you to provide two further evidential samples at the Police Station. If the Police do not have a road side breath testing kit available or, it has not been reasonably practicable for them to obtain a road side breath test, they still have the power to arrest you and to require you to provide a sample at the station.
In order for you to be successfully prosecuted for the offence, the Police must prove that you were driving the vehicle on a road or a public place and that you were over the prescribed alcohol limit. On this basis simply providing a sample if you were not the driver of the vehicle, will not result in a conviction and you would have a defence. You should not refuse to provide a breath sample.
There are also a number of strict procedures that must be carried out by the Police when obtaining the specimen for analysis and any breach of this procedure, could amount to a defence to the allegation resulting in the matter being thrown out of Court.
Even in the event that you were the driver of the vehicle and you were over the prescribed limit, there are still arguments that can be put to the Court that may persuade them not to impose the mandatory minimum 12 month disqualification. These are known as Special Reasons arguments and if successful can be used to persuade the Court to impose penalty points as an alternative to the disqualification.