Drink and don't drive

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Laikavirgin, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    Hi peeps,

    Does anyone know how the law relates to having a drink or three when parked up for the night, in a camper.

    We normally free camp, sometimes just in a layby, we don't get drunk just a couple to chill out and aid relaxation.

    Obviously we have access to the ignition keys, and could drive off at any time, but we wouldn't, could we get nicked anyway, what's the answer.

    Regards

    Kev Behr
     
  2. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Overnight stop tippling?

    Hi Kev

    I don't think you would have appreciated just how large a question you have just raised - I immediately spread your "having a drink in a 'lay-by' overnighting" question to a brand new situation which has only recently occurred - that of 'motorhomes stopovers in a Pub Car Park. www.motorhomestopovers.co.uk

    Stop on a Pub car park free of charge for the first night - go into the Pub have a few beers, glass of wine etc - then go back into the motorhome for a good night's sleep - super, what could be better. A wonderful opportunity to have a weekend away, complete with dinner and drinks and then fall into bed and sleep it off.

    But what would be the legal situation if someone had a 'few more' than a few beers and then went back to the motorhome - especially if that person had been reported by a third party as being 'drunk-in-charge' of a vehicle?

    I have posed the question to the Caravan club Legal Section - and will report back if and when I get any kind of sensible answer.
     
  3. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Hi Kev, IMO there is no definitive answer, technically one could argue you are breaking the law, but the big word is intention. Do you intend to drive? Your intentions might be misread by a copper and then your only hope is that the CPS or magistrate understands you had no intention to drive.

    If you walk out of a shop with goods you did not pay for, you are only guilty of theft if your intentions are dishonest. If you were just being absent-minded and forgot to pay you are absolutely not guilty of theft. However if your absent-mindedness was misinterpreted by a policemen and you were charged with shoplifting, it would be up to you, as innocent as you are, to prove that you had no intention to permanently deprive the shop keeper.

    In the Motorhome you would hope that common sense would prevail and you being in your PJ's shows that your intent is to sleep and not drive. However it seems that these days Police Officers are not allowed to use common sense and everything must be done by the book. It is for this reason I would never be over the drink-drive limit when wildcamping. If you are over the limit and should you ever feel the need to move on, or you are asked to move by the landowner or the police, then as soon as get behind the wheel your intention is proved.

    So my advice is Wild Camping = Sober Camping, :Cool:
     
  4. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Response from the Legal Advisors of the Caravan Club..........

    It is to be hoped that the interpretation of your intention to drive MUST be put down to common sense - just as Jim has said in a previous post......

    In the Motorhome you would hope that common sense would prevail and you being in your PJ's shows that your intent is to sleep and not drive. However it seems that these days Police Officers are not allowed to use common sense and everything must be done by the book. It is for this reason I would never be over the drink-drive limit when wildcamping. If you are over the limit and should you ever feel the need to move on, or you are asked to move by the landowner or the police, then as soon as get behind the wheel your intention is proved.

    So my advice is Wild Camping = Sober Camping


    The Caravan Club broke the argument into two sections -


    Do the Public have open access to the car park - i.e. lay-by on public road?

    If the answer is yes, then the Police can wake you at 2 o clock in the morning , and ask you to move on - and if you are over the limit you could be in trouble. :cry:

    Do the Public have open access to the car park - i.e. Pub Car Park?

    If the answer is yes, then the Police can wake you at 2 o clock in the morning , and ask you to move on - and if you are over the limit you could be in trouble. Remember, the Police can stop and breathalyze you ON the pub car park if you have the keys - but at 2 oclock in the morning when you are dressed in your PJ's - very unlikely :thumb:

    HOWEVER if there is a sign in the Pub car park to say that it is a PRIVATE car park - the public do not have a right to park there unless they are visiting the Pub - then it would be a bit more difficult to make the case stick in court.

    The very best possible scenario is if the Pub Landlord were to close the car park AFTER the last customer had left - by the simple expedient of putting a chain across the car park entrance - that would bar the Public from free entrance - therefore you could park overnight without fear of interference from the Police.


    In summary:

    Public access to your 'parking area' - stay sober. :Wink:

    No Public access to your parking area - drink within the limits of 'common sense' bearing in mind your intention to drive on the following morning. :thumb:
     
  5. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    Thank you for your replies, maybe if someone was taken to court it would clarify things a little, it is after all a motor HOME, and as such, we should be able to have a glass of wine or two, in our home, even if it is mobile, most have a drinks cabinet fitted.

    The law needs to be clear about this, I'm sure more than a few of us have a little drink, with absolutely no intention of driving, and if an officer of the law asked us to move at 2am, wouldn't that be entrapment, if we informed them that we had been drinking and might be breaking the law, if movement was insisted upon.

    Regards

    Kev Behr
     
  6. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Hi Kev
    In my opinion the law is clear, whilst you are quite right it is a home, its also more akin to a motor vehicle, if you were to inform a police officer you were to intoxicated to move it you may leave yourself open to a charge of being drunk in control of a motor vehicle, being the owner and the only driver present whether the keys are in the ignition or not, you are fully in control of it, I have heard of drunken cyclist being prosecuted for pushing (and falling over:Rofl1: ) a bike
    Picking up on Jims comments when wild camping one should permentantly be in a position to drive away legally, its no good telling plod a hooligan was trying to break in so you drove away for safety reasons, if your over the limit your nicked, he,s heard all the excuses before, and so has the judge:Eeek:
    Geo
     
  7. traveller

    traveller Read Only Funster

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    Hi


    If we are wildcamping anywhere we do not drink at all. If we want to move off in a hurry then we are safe to do . If we are on an aire or other similar motorhome parking area then we might have just one large lager can between or a smaller one each or a small glass of wine. If we are on a campsite or an organised rally say for the weekend then we do let ourselves indulge more. The van keys are usually stored away from the ignition in this situation. Again though remember that you are driving the day you leave the campsite or rally.

    Traveller
     
  8. ShiftZZ

    ShiftZZ Funster Life Member

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    You could be charged with being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle contrary to s.5 (1) (b) Road Traffic Act 1988 (the “RTA”). The section states:


    “5.- (1) If a person-

    drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place,
    or
    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.”
     
  9. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    It would be so much easier if they were to interpret the law as it was probably meant to be, similar to a burglar going equipped for theft, if he has a crowbar, and a bag with swag on it, etc, then he's likely to be up to no good, they should look at the facts of the individual case, IE. when we stop the keys come out of the ignition and are put in to a drawer in the habitation area, more so we can find the damn things in the morning, than to stop us driving off, (BTW we only have a couple of drinks, we don't get ratted, so would be under the limit anyway. I was posing a question to see what the legal standing might be) it should be obvious and simple even to the stupidest rosser, keys in ignition, sat in drivers seat, p1$$ed as a newt, then I expect to be nicked, but no keys, curtains drawn over cab windows, up on ramps, it should be obvious I'm not going anywhere soon, so leave me alone please occifer. (one problem is some vans need to have their keys in for the radio or lighter sockets to work, although that can usually be sorted with an auto electrician)

    Regards

    Kev Behr
     
  10. ShiftZZ

    ShiftZZ Funster Life Member

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    One last thought, if your curtains were closed then the Police would have to justify knocking on your door, unless you have committed a crime under the RTA.
    If you are parked legally and the van is legal then I can see no reason why they would take any action, why would they?

    Drinking & Driving - The Facts
    Everybody in the pub thinks they are an expert on the drinking and driving laws, but here are the hard facts!! We hope you never have to worry about them.

    When can the police require a breath test? Any person who is driving, attempting to drive, or in charge of a motor vehicle on the road, or in a public place (eg a pub car park or a garage forecourt), may be required by the police to provide a breath test, to ascertain whether they are over the prescribed limit of alcohol - 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath (or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood).

    The request must be made by a police officer in uniform, but can only be made if one of the following situations apply :-

    the police officer has reasonable cause to suspect that you have committed, or are currently committing a moving traffic offence, or
    if, having stopped, an officer has reasonable cause to suspect that the person driving/attempting to drive/in charge of the vehicle has consumed alcohol, or
    the police officer has reasonable cause to believe that you were the person driving/attempting to drive/in charge of a motor vehicle which was involved in an accident.
    So does that mean that the police can just stop your car if you are driving along and insist on giving you a roadside breath test? The answer is NO. They are entitled to randomly stop your car, but they can only insist on a breath test if they have reasonable cause to suspect you have committed a traffic offence, or have consumed alcohol (eg they can smell it on your breath), or they reasonably believe you have been involved in an accident (eg the description of your car matches that given by a witness).


    I suggest if you keep a low profile then you would be safe enough!


    Lastly. Being in charge of a vehicle whilst over the legal limit or unfit through drink could result in 3 months' imprisonment plus a fine of up to £2,500 and a driving ban.
     
  11. ourcampersbeentrashed

    ourcampersbeentrashed Funster

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    The road traffic act clearly states:

    “5.- (1) If a person-

    drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place,
    or
    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.”


    There are many defences against being "Drunk in charge" and any person who is accused of being in charge of a motor vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs will have a defence to the charge if he can show that at the time of the offence there was no likelihood of his driving the motor vehicle. The court will look at various factors to decide whether this was the case or not, including whether the keys were in the ignition, whether the car was running etc. These do not conclusively prove that the person was in charge of the vehicle for the purposes of the law, because the intention to drive must be proven according to the facts.


    Here is a tip

    If you are staying overnight at e.g a pub car park - lock the ignition keys away in the safe in your mh. That way if approached by the police, you only have the door entry keys to your motorhome on you, therefore you are using it as a home rather than a vehicle at that time.

    I dont know whether they still do it, but some landlords used to look after vehicle keys if asked. If the landlord has the ignition keys (presuming you trust him/her) again you are using the "home bit" as opposed to the "motorbit".

    Hope this helps
     
  12. American Dream

    American Dream Read Only Funster

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    A very good point.:thumb:
     
  13. Bulletguy

    Bulletguy Read Only Funster

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    I think those that have actually 'been done' have been found 'sleeping it off' in their car. One case i remember was a man found asleep in the passenger seat of his car. Unfortunately he still had the ignition keys in his pocket so was still charged!

    Locking the ignition keys away in a mh safe? Although technically you still have access to the ignition keys, I think it would have to be a 'jobsworth' type of police officer to make anything of that!
     
  14. Digger Driver

    Digger Driver Read Only Funster

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    I do like a drink and have been checked by the police many times while steaming drunk!
    Once they realised i was wildcamping and was half naked they didn't even mention it!
    Most Bobbies i have met are really not interested as long as your not murdering someone!
    By the way!
    The police do have to find the keys to proove you guilty so my emergency plan has always been to drop them in the porta potti if i see them at the door!
    I don't think they would be bothered to look in there!:Rofl1:
    I would like to fight a court case though because i know one of the best Road Traffic Barristers in the country!
     
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