Is It Legal For Me To Drink Alcohol In A Campervan?
The question of whether you can drink alcohol in a Campervan or not has always been an area of great debate. There should actually be no debate, as it is a legal matter. However, the wording of the Law in this case is so ambiguous, that is puts the onus on the accused to somehow find evidence to prove there was no Intent to do something that they have not yet done! Let me explain?
There are two main offences that the Police could try to charge you with (below), taken directly from the (impossible to navigate) Gov.uk Website. Either or both could apply if you were questioned in your Campervan while having excess alcohol in your system.
- Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink
- Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink
The first instance stated above is pretty much cut and dried. If you get into your Campervan, put the keys into the ignition and start it up or move it whilst over the limit, you are going to get charged.
The second instance is the area for debate, and the area that could get you into trouble even if you have no intention whatsoever of driving your Campervan. The phrase “In Charge Of” is the problem.
There appears to be no legal definition whatsoever, anywhere which describes what being in charge of a vehicle actually it. So this, unfortunately for us, leaves it open to interpretation. When things are left open to interpretation, they can, and usually do, get messy and/or expensive.
If you are going to drink alcohol to an amount over the Drink Drive Limit you are going to have to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that you do not intend to drive if you are questioned by the Police.
Most people are familiar with the phrase, “beyond reasonable doubt“. This is what is known as the “standard or proof,” and it is the standard required in criminal matters.
The standard of proof is the legal burden on a person to establish the facts that support his case.
“Beyond reasonable doubt” is a very high standard of proof, essentially the court has to be convinced that there is “no doubt” that something is true. This has to be the case, as the consequences of a person being found guilty in a criminal case are usually much more serious than the potential consequences in a civil matter, which usually involve an order to pay money.
How Can I Prove I’m Not Going To Drive After Having A Drink In A Campervan?
There are numerous actions you can take that will mitigate the chance of you being accused of being “In Charge Of” your Campervan if you have been drinking.
I have scoured the Campervan Forums as well as spoken to other Campervan owners and I have put together a list of things things that you could and probably should do, and a list of things that you almost definitely shouldn’t do if you want the burden of proof to be on your side rather than against you after having a drink.
Things to do if you drink alcohol in a Campervan
If you going to drink alcohol in a Campervan you are obviously (I would hope) not intending to drive anywhere afterwards. Anything you can do to make it look like that is your intention will help your case if you were to be questioned on the matter. These include, but are not limited to:
- Park in and pay for an overnight stay at a Campsite
- Park on Private Land rather than Public Roads
- Tell the Landowner of your intentions to stay overnight
- Put on the Windscreen Covers
- Draw the Curtains
- Put an Anti-Theft Steering Lock on the Steering Wheel
- Put the keys in a Locked Safe if you have one
- If you don’t have a Safe, put the keys in a Drawer or a Magnetic Box and attach it to the outside of your Campervan or somewhere else out of sight
- Put down the stabilisers or the wheel chocks
- Put the beds down if applicable
- Put on Pyjamas and Slippers if you wear them
- Sit in the Living area not in the front seats
- If questioned by the Police, be polite and courteous, never argumentative and aggressive
None of these actions are concrete evidence that you were not going to take your Campervan anywhere, but they all add up in your favour in relation to the Burden of Proof should it be needed.
Things “NOT” to do if you drink alcohol in a Campervan
There are of course some actions that you could take that would possibly make you look guilty as charged, even if you are not intending to drive your Campervan. The following actions would make it more difficult for you to disprove your intent not to drive, so don’t do them. Things such as:
- Putting the Keys in the Ignition
- Starting the Campervan to charge the Batteries
- Sitting in the Driver’s Seat facing forwards
- Keeping the keys in your pocket
- Being rowdy and offensive or otherwise drawing attention to yourself
- Parking overnight in a Lay-by on the Public Road
- Causing an obstruction to other vehicles or pedestrians
- Parking illegally
- Arguing with the Police
- Stay mindful of the possibility of “Morning After” Drink Driving by still being over the legal limit from the night before.
The more doubt that we can put between the person being accused of intent to drink drive, and their actual intent to drive the vehicle the better, even if some of those actions seem a bit over the top and false.
Even though the Law on being “In Charge” of a vehicle is a bit open to interpretation, and especially with it being a grey area when it comes to being in a Campervan after drinking alcohol. I have so far been unable to find even a single case of anyone being prosecuted for being drunk “In Charge” of a Campervan while not actually driving it.
There may be some cases, but I have searched high and low and have been unable to find a single one, which means that the likelihood of you or I being prosecuted for Drink Driving while in a Campervan and not intending to drive it must be incredibly low.
Can You Drink Alcohol In A Campervan? – Summary
It appears, that in the UK at least, you can drink alcohol in a Campervan providing that you re not intending to drive it. The burden of proof however is going to be upon you to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you are not intending to drive.
There are steps that you can take, listed above, which will move the balance of probability in your favour, and there are actions that you could take which would increase the doubt about your intentions and make it look more likely that you were indeed intending to drive.
It would make sense that if you are planning on having a drink while you are in your Campervan to take the correct steps rather than the wrong ones then Party on…