Start typing and hit "Enter" to search.

Can a Drink Driving Offence Affect My Naturalisation Application?

As with many areas of law, the question of whether a drink driving offence can affect an application for British Citizenship depends on the circumstances and the timing. A key requirement that must be met by those applying for naturalisation in the UK is that they must be of ‘good character’.

What is meant by ‘good character’?

The British Nationality Act 1981 (the Act), section 41, states that British Citizenship “must not be granted unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that the adult or young person is of good character”. Unfortunately, the Act does not elaborate on what is mean by ‘good character’, however, the Government does provide extensive guidance. The Home Office’s ‘Nationality: good character requirement’ states that “a person will not normally be considered to be of good character if there is information to suggest that any of the following apply”. The list of factors provided includes criminality.

Another factor that may be relevant when assessing good character is that of ‘notoriety’. The Home Office guidance states that drinking is not normally, in isolation, relevant to assessing good character, however, case officers are advised that “where there is evidence that a person has, by the scale and persistence of their behaviour, made themselves [the applicant] notorious in their local or the wider community, you must consider refusing the application. This may for example be evidenced through media reporting, items on social media, or information provided by members of the public. However, you must be careful not to give credence to comments that are intended to be defamatory or malicious”. While notoriety is a consideration for case officers, refusal on this basis will only apply with the most extreme of criminal behaviours.

Do I have to disclose all driving offences?

It is important to disclose all criminal offences, regardless of type and severity. The guidance provided for the form used to apply for naturalisation (form AN), specifically states:

“You must give details of all criminal convictions both within and outside the UK.

These include road traffic offences. Fixed penalty notices (such as speeding or parking tickets) must be disclosed, although will not normally be taken into account unless:

  • you have failed to pay and there were criminal proceedings as a result
  • you received 3 or more fixed penalty notices at any level
  • in the past 3 years, you received 2 or more fixed penalty notices, at least one

of which was at the upper levels (fine of £200 or more)”.

In relation to drink driving specifically, the guidance clarifies that drink driving offences must be declared on the British Citizenship application, and that a driving conviction may not be disregarded despite any penalty points being removed from your driving licence”.

What if my drink driving offence occurred many years ago?

It is true that under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, some criminal offences are considered ‘spent’ after a period of time, and, therefore, do not have to be declared in relation to some matters (such as when applying for a job). Unfortunately, this does not apply in the area of immigration law. As such, all offences, no matter how old or if they are ‘spent’ must be declared. Home Office guidance for case officers on this matter states, “Applicants are required to disclose all convictions, regardless of whether or not they are ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (1974 Act). You may take into account any past convictions regardless of when they took place, as nationality decisions are exempt from section 4 of the 1974 Act that provides for certain convictions to become ‘spent’ after fixed periods of time”.

Will my application for British Citizenship be refused due to a drink driving offence?

While the Home Office will take into account all offences, including those that are ‘spent’, this does not mean that all applications which mention criminality will be refused. What matters is the length of the sentence and the amount of time between the date of the application and the end of the sentence. The case officer determining your application will use the following guidance (from page 21 of form AN ) to determine if your drink driving offence should be disregarded:

Sentence

Impact

Four years’ or more imprisonment

The application will normally be refused, regardless of when the conviction occurred.

Between 12 months’ and four years’ imprisonment

The application will normally be refused unless 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence.

Up to 12 months’ imprisonment

Applications will normally be refused unless ten years have passed since the end of the sentence.

A non-custodial sentence or other out of court disposal that is recorded on a person’s criminal record

Applications will normally be refused if the conviction occurred in the last three years

It is important to note that the end of the sentence does not relate to the amount of actual time in custody, but rather to the total amount of the sentence imposed by the judge. For example, a person sentenced to three years in jail for drink driving on 1/1/2013 will normally be refused British Citizenship until 1/1/2031 – this is the 15 years plus the three-year sentence.

Final words

It may be that the best course of action for some applicants is simply to wait until their drink driving offence sentence (whether custodial or not) passes the time threshold provided by the Home Office guidance. In any event, do not be tempted not to disclose a drink driving offence, as doing so may lead to an automatic refusal on the basis of a failure to disclose all relevant convictions. And if this does happen, you may then be refused for any future applications for British citizenship for the next ten years. If you are concerned that your drink driving offence may cause your application for citizenship to be refused, seek legal advice from immigration solicitors before you do anything. Doing so will provide you with the best chance of securing British citizenship for you and your family.

Get In Touch

Some of our Happy Clients

Reiss Edwards Awards

ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge
ACQ5 Awards Award ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated Three Best Rated
Department For International Development Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge University Of Cambridge

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

Read More

Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

Read More

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

Read More

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

Read More

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee...

Read More

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A mas...

Read More

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigrat...

Read More

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija ...

Read More

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into st...

Read More

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy. As a family, we...

Read More

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva th...

Read More

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recomme...

Read More

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listen...

Read More

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter a...

Read More

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled ...

Read More

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration...

Read More

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They ac...

Read More

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the a...

Read More

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is defintely not a routine decision. We had to ...

Read More

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my expe...

Read More

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a ...

Read More

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused...

Read More

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people....

Read More