Campervan guides

UK campervan alcohol law: Can you drink while staying in a campervan?

Campervan drinking law UK

Ever wondered if you can legally drink alcohol in your campervan? Van Life Matters takes a look the UK campervan alcohol law and what you can do to stay on the right side of it.

You could be risking prosecution for being ‘drunk while in charge of a vehicle’ if you drink alcohol while stopping in a campervan.

UK drink driving laws are strictly enforced and carry severe penalties.

You could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine if you’re found guilty of drink-driving, although the actual penalty you get depends upon the magistrates who hear your case and on your specific offence.

Being in charge of a campervan while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

  • Three months’ imprisonment
  • Up to £2,500 fine
  • A possible driving ban

Driving or attempting to drive a campervan while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

  • Six months’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban for at least one year (three years if convicted twice in ten years)

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis

  • Six months’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A ban from driving for at least one year

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A ban from driving for at least two years
  • An extended driving test before your licence is returned
NEED TO KNOW: A conviction for drink-driving will result in an increase in campervan insurance costs. It could cause problems when it comes to travelling to some countries like the USA, for example.

Campervan drink driving laws UK

So, can you drink in a campervan in the UK?

The law is clear: don’t drink and drive. However, there’s no specific UK campervan alcohol law, making it less clear when it comes to staying in a campervan after you’ve had a drink, particularly if you’re embarking on a spot of ‘wild camping‘.

  • Drinking in a campervan on a campsite: If you’re staying on a private campsite there should be no legal problem with having a drink with dinner and then settling down for a restful night’s sleep during your booked stay.
  • Drinking in a campervan while wild camping: If you’re stopping overnight in a layby, next to a highway or any other public place, these become more clouded. In these situations, it’s widely advised to stay within the legal limit or, better still, to avoid alcohol altogether.
  • Drinking in a campervan at a pub: Overnight pub stopovers have become increasingly popular in recent years but those that do risk of being found guilty of being drunk in charge of a vehicle. In reality, you have legal defence if you’re able to show there was no likelihood of you driving when drunk but this is for you to prove and could involve a court appearance.

What to do before drinking alcohol in your campervan

Wherever you’re stopping, there’s a number of things that you can do before having a drink, to minimise the chances of attracting attention and getting on the wrong side of the law:

  • Prepare: Park and prepare your campervan for the night, so you do not need to move after drinking. Ensure that your vehicle is not causing, or could later cause, an obstruction to others. You should also set-up any grip mats, levellers and chocks that you may need.
  • Proof of intention: Have some evidence, if possible, of the duration of your stay, so that you could prove your intention to sleep overnight in the car park.

After you’ve had a drink in your campervan

Once you’ve had a drink, it’s widely advised to adhere to the following guidance:

  • Keys: Do not leave your keys in the ignition.
  • Engine: Do not start the engine, under any circumstances.
  • Driver’s seat: Never sit behind the steering wheel if the driver’s seat is facing forwards.
DON'T FORGET: You may still be over the legal limit in the morning. It takes a lot longer than most people think for alcohol to pass through the body. This free online calculator provides an accurate estimation on when you'll be safe to drive again after consuming alcohol.

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