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Christmas: Eat, drink and get arrested?

We all love Christmas don’t we? Seeing family, exchanging presents, and eating and drinking twice as much as we normally would. We then spend the next few months trying to work out how we are going to pay for it all, either by going on a diet or working out how to pay off those credit cards.

However, Christmas is also the time when people who have never been in trouble before can suddenly find themselves arrested and/or before the criminal courts. The main reasons? Pressure of finances, and far too much drinking.

Times are tough and we all look for a bargain, but be aware that taking advantage of an amazing deal may land you with a criminal record. Pressure is on to get the latest toy for the kids, or a fancy gadget or some jewellery for a loved one. So we are often more vulnerable to buying presents from “the man in the pub” or from someone you have just met.

If you do buy goods in this way, then you are at risk of being arrested for either handling stolen goods or possessing criminal property, both of which are serious offences and which could land you in front of your local Magistrates Court. If a deal seems too good to be true, then very often it is. So, if you are offered a £500 tablet computer for £50, think twice or expect a knock on the door you may not welcome.

One more round at the office or family party may cost you much more than the contents of your wallet. Every year people are arrested by the police or before the courts simply because they failed to appreciate the effects of excessive alcohol consumption during the festive season.

There are very few people who would knowingly drive if they knew they were over the drink driving limit. Most people are extremely careful if they know they are driving and will limit themselves to one drink or abstain altogether – in normal circumstances. But what happens when you know you are not driving?

Well you can drink and not worry, and you will probably have either a taxi booked or a lift sorted out at the end of the night, so all is okay isn’t it? No it often is not. Why? What is often not considered is whether you will be okay to drive in the morning.

Are you aware how long alcohol stays in your system? Can you be sure you will still be under the drink drive limit the morning after your Christmas party? Many people think they do, but every year we represent clients caught driving with excess alcohol in their system the morning after the night before.

Despite having not had any alcohol for hours, they are still over the limit due to drinking more than they usually would. The fact that you did not feel drunk or did not appreciate you would be over the limit is no defence.

Year after year people are shocked to discover they are sometimes still two or three times over the limit during their morning commute to work or drive to the shops for that last minute Christmas present. Very often that drive is the last one they’ll do for many months.

People who are not regular drinkers should take extra care, because we are regularly consulted by people who end up in trouble for fighting, criminal damage, stealing and even indecent exposure, all because they could not handle all that alcohol being offered to them.

Many of these clients have no recollection of events whatsoever too, leading to some very embarrassed faces when the evidence is presented to them, particularly if caught on CCTV. What appears to be innocent or funny behaviour after a night of drinking is very often anything but funny or innocent. Let’s not forget that cheeky slap at the office party may not be seen as so innocent in the cold light of day.

So enjoy Christmas, eat and drink, but be careful and sensible. If not, you may need to make an appointment to see me.