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Today marks St Patrick’s Day, with people all around the world celebrating Irish culture and history, as many are likely to go out drinking as part of the festivities. But, drivers can be fined up to £2,500 for standing next to their car if they are under the influence and appear to be ‘in charge’ of the car, with experts warning of the little-known rule.

Dan Gick, Managing Director of Scrap Car Comparison, urged drivers to follow his guidance and avoid the significant risks and penalties involved.

He said that the majority of people know better than to drink and drive, but issues can come when people try their luck and see “how much they can get away with”.

Mr Gick added: “As a general rule, it’s safer to avoid driving after drinking alcohol altogether and ensure you have other means of transport available.

“Many people will often assume that they’re safe to drive home after just one or two drinks – but this isn’t always the case.”

The most frequently used DR40 conviction addresses those “in charge of a vehicle while alcohol level above limit”.

However, the DR50 conviction can be used for those who are “in charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink”, which can catch drivers out.

The latter conviction doesn’t require the driver to be over the limit, as it’s based on an officer’s assessment rather than breathalyser results. 

As a result, someone could still receive a fine and 10 penalty points on their licence for driving, even if they are legally below the limit.

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Dan Gick continued, saying: “You can also be convicted without actually driving the vehicle.

“It can also be determined that you are ‘in charge’ of a vehicle if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of a stationary vehicle, are standing next to the vehicle or are in possession of the keys with intent to start it. 

“Ultimately, the safety of yourself and other road users should always come before convenience”. 

In order to avoid any drink driving charges this St Patrick’s Day, motorists should ensure they follow a few simple rules.

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If a group of people are going out, they should ensure one of them is a designated driver.

By planning ahead, motorists can avoid the risk of drink driving and have one person who is responsible for the safety and well-being of their friends.

Public transport can be a great way of getting home safely, but if people do not want to wait for a bus or train, they can pre-book a taxi instead.

By booking in advance, they have the security of knowing when and how they’re getting home, rather than risk waiting for hours or plans not coming together, and avoid being tempted to get in the car. 

It’s always worth having a taxi number saved too, just in case someone ends up drinking alcohol when they weren’t planning to.

Drivers should always make sure they leave plenty of time between drinking and then getting behind the wheel.

It can take quite a long time for alcohol to leave the system, with experts advising that drivers have a slow morning and avoid driving in the afternoon.

Mr Gick added: “Don’t be tempted to go out to your car – being deemed to be ‘in charge’ of a vehicle can put you at risk of a penalty, even if you aren’t actually driving.

“So avoid temptation and stay well away from your vehicle once you’ve started drinking. Leave your keys at home!”

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