When you've had a drink... let someone else do the driving. Or not always?
It is of great importance to distinguish between alcohol intoxication and driving while drunk. To put it in simple terms: not everyone who takes a breathalyzer test and scores higher than the legally-authorised alcohol limit is necessarily drunk. Drunkenness appears from the external condition in which a person finds himself (as a rule assessed by the police), while someone’s level of intoxication is measured on the basis of objective criteria (namely, by a breath analysis and/or blood test).
Am I always summoned before the Police Court?
This depends on several factors, including the level of intoxication, the driving experience of the driver (young drivers are more readily summoned), whether the person in question has already been found guilty of similar violations in the past… and in general of the policy pursued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office within the jurisdiction where the violation was committed.
Generally, the Public Prosecutor has two options when your file lands on his desk.
In the best case, the Public Prosecutor’s Office will offer you an amicable settlement. This offers the advantage that you do not have to appear in court so long as you promptly pay the amount of money proposed to you.
In the worst case (and in practice more and more frequently), you will be served a summons by the process server with a request to appear on a specific date before the Police Court Judge in the jurisdiction where the violation was committed. In that event, assistance of counsel is indicated and in very many cases free of charge (!), given that most car insurance policies have a legal assistance option.
We can find out for you at no expense whether you are entitled to free assistance. Contact us by e-mail or WhatsApp for this.
What penalty do I risk if I am prosecuted?
The law makes a distinction between slight alcohol intoxication (between 0.05 and 0.08 percent) and heavy alcohol intoxication (more than 0.08 percent).
In case of the slighter alcohol intoxication, you risk (ignoring the possible recidivism issue) a fine of at least € 25.00 and at most € 500.00, possibly in part with deferment. These fines still have to be multiplied by a factor of 8, however.
In case of the heavier alcohol intoxication, the minimum is increased to € 200.00 (x8) and the maximum to € 2,000.00 (x8), possibly in part with deferment.
For both levels of intoxication the Police Court Judge can impose on you a driving ban ranging from 8 days to 5 years.
In principle the execution thereof can be limited to weekends and holidays, but only on condition that you request this.
Thus for professional reasons an exception can also be authorised for a specific vehicle category (e.g. driving licence C).
Moreover, the judge can make restoration of the right to drive dependent on successfully passing one or more of the following tests and examinations: theoretical test, practical test, a medical examination and a psychological examination. If you didn’t have a driving licence for longer than two years at the time of the violation, it becomes mandatory to pass the theoretical test or practical test all over again.
If you are prosecuted for both intoxication and drunkenness, as a rule only the most serious offence is retained, i.e. the drunk driving. The fine lies in the same range as the heavy alcohol intoxication, i.e. a minimum of € 200.00 (x8) and a maximum of € 2,000.00 (x8). The biggest difference is that a driving ban from 1 month to 5 years, or a permanent one, must obligatorily be imposed in the case of drunkenness.
When do I have to pay my fine and when does my driving ban commence?
There are no fixed periods for this.
For the payment of the imposed fine you must wait to receive a payment notice, which can take a certain time.
In principle the driving ban commences on the fourth working day after the day that you are served with the corresponding order (not including Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays). Within this period the driving licence must be physically surrendered at the Clerk of Court’s Office of the Police Court that sentenced you.
Does a guilty verdict before the Police Court appear on my certificate of good conduct?
Some judgements are expunged automatically after three years, others not. You can then after the passage of three years qualify for a rehabilitation of honour and rights.
This doesn’t occur automatically, however.
What should I do?
Have you received a ticket or a summons? E-mail it to us or send it via WhatsApp and we will check at no expense whether you qualify for free legal assistance via your insurance.
We can act for you throughout the country, wherever the violation occurred.Variable price More info about our prices