You’ve probably heard the jokes about the crimes Santa commits every Christmas Eve. Breaking and entering, crossing borders without a passport, infringement of employment law. The list goes on. But everybody forgets about drink driving offences.
In the UK it’s tradition to leave Santa a glass of milk and a mince pie. But instead, the caring British public often leave him a winter warmer with a glass of Sherry. In Ireland he might even find a hearty Guinness as he emerges from the chimney.
Even though he might stick to milk most of the way around the country, just one drink could push him over the legal limit.
So after visiting around 25 million households across the UK, is Santa at risk of being convicted of drink driving?
Santa’s got a pretty good threshold after all these years, but even after one drink he’s still likely to show signs of being under the influence. So he could get a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge.
However, after giving permission for a blood or urine test, he could be over the limit. So the police could issue him with a Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) charge, as it would be easier for the prosecution to demonstrate that he was, in fact, drunk.
Either way, the penalties are pretty severe.
In order to be charged with a drink driving offence, it needs to be proven that Santa was on a public highway, or a road with public access.
As with the case of the 73 year old Yorkshire priest found not guilty of drink driving after crashing his car in the church carpark, what classes as a public road can be open to interpretation.
But since Santa is invited to land on people’s roofs to deliver presents every Christmas Eve, you could then argue he’s on private property, so it’s likely that he wouldn’t be breaking the law.
But the moment he lands on a road, he’s in trouble.
According to the Road Traffic Act, you must be in charge of a “mechanically propelled vehicle”. Whilst this term is not clearly defined, it’s also important to consider whether Santa’s sleigh has been adapted for road use.
This is open to the interpretation of the courts, but on the grounds that his sleigh is not a mechanically propelled vehicle, nor has it been adapted for road use like a horse and cart may have been, it’s possible that this wouldn’t stand up in court.
Instead, this may well fall under the Railway and Transport Act 2003as an “aviation act”. He is, after all, flying.
But my advice here? Speak to a motoring solicitor.
If convicted it’s quite likely that Santa would receive a ban of up to 2 years (or 3-11 points), and an unlimited fine.
But if he saw a motoring solicitor, he may be able to defend his case, or plead guilty with exceptional hardship to receive 3-11 points instead With a good defence he keep his ban to the minimum penalty of 12 months.
Just in time for next year.
It would be difficult to persuade any court that he was unaware he was downing several million glasses of Sherry, or that his milk had been laced with alcohol.
It would be more likely a case for exceptional hardship to prove the significant impact a ban would have on his livelihood, Black Friday, and retail outlets throughout the world.
And the children, of course.
No. For fairly obvious reasons.
Whilst he’s real, would a police officer seriously expect his career to be in tact after charging what many people believe to be a fictional character?
Plus time stands still when Santa’s doing the rounds, so it would be quite difficult to prove that it actually happened.
But this year, just to be on the safe side, just leave a glass of milk with a mince pie for Santa, as is the tradition.
Defending drunk driving charges are difficult. And the damage you could do to your life and other people’s lives is irreparable. So the best advice is always not to drink any alcohol at all if you intend to drive.
And don’t fall into the trap of many myths surrounding drink driving
If you are charged with a drink driving offence this Christmas, call 01484 437 400 for expert advice.