U.K. Drink Driving laws and court system

I don’t need answer fast. Liverpool Football Club player Roberto Firmino was arrested on Christmas Eve and charged with drink driving. A court appearance is scheduled for 31 January.

  1. I know Europe is stricter on drunken driving than the USA. How serious is this crime?

2 The court appearance is the same day as a major football match. Is this first court date just an arraignment, which may not even require the defendant to be there? Or, is this the actual trial?

  1. Since Firmino is from Brazil, if he is found guilty, could his work visa be cancelled and be deported?
  1. Depends on the nature of the ‘excessive’ speed. Higher speed over the posted limit, more serious.
  2. The equivalent of an ‘arraignment’ unless he chooses to plead guilty there and then. In that case, depending on the circumstances the magistrates might decide that they don’t have powers to award a sufficiently onerous sentence and remit it to the Crown Court for sentencing.
  3. Again depends on the circumstances but probably not.

The speed of what? His drinking?

yeah, I framed that wrongly; should have said ‘blood/alcohol content’

Firmino is to appear before a Magistrates’ Court, which is, in the system of courts in England and Wales, the lowest level of criminal courts dealing with minor offences. The judges are typically laymen, i.e. not qualified lawyers, who are advised on legal matters by a clerk of the court, who is a qualified lawyer but not a judge on the case. The Magistrates’ Court has a power to sentence defendants to an imprisonment of up to 12 months, but in many cases, including many cases of driving drunk, the sentence is limited to a fine and a suspension of the licence. If firmino pleads guilty the sentence can be given on the spot, and the case is dealt with on that day.

As to his work permit: Sure, it could be revoked. But I doubt it will happen, since this is in the discretion of the authorities and not automatic. In spite of this offence, he’s quite a valuable migrant worker to Britain, so why not keep him?

A lot depends on how much over the limit he was and if his (expensive) lawyer can dream up some mitigating circumstance (he could claim his drinks were spiked) and persuade the (cynical) magistrate to accept it.

However, he faces:
6 months’ imprisonment (But usually unpaid work rather than jail)

an unlimited fine (If he is just over the limit, this would be around 150% of his weekly income. Since this is a reported £100,000 (cite) this could be a nice earner for the Treasury. (All the local cops can claim is their costs)

a driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

I would think that an application for an adjournment would probably be successful

The courts are typically tough on DUI at Christmas. If he’s sensible, he will plead guilty by letter so will not have to attend.

From here:

Just to add that if the incident is regarded as particularly serious the magistrates can refer the case to the Crown Court where it would be dealt with by a judge and (if the plea is not guilty) by a jury. Much stiffer sentences can be handed out by the Crown Court.