Drunk Driving Limits From Around The World
Traveling is one of the most rewarding activities you can do in life. With that said, it’s also important to spend time researching the country you are visiting.
For instance, travelers should understand what types of activities are available in the area, any vaccinations needed, the culture and customs of the country, and maybe even learn a few essential words, such as thank you.
The more prepared you are, the less likely that something unexpected will happen and, if it does, you will be better equipped to deal with it. One aspect many people forget to research if they’re going to be driving abroad is the legal alcohol limits of the country in question.
The safest and best advice we can offer is to avoid alcohol completely if you have to drive. This is because alcohol slows down our reaction times and even tiny amounts can impair judgment. Alcohol also slows down the brain, which affects our reasoning and self-control.
Drivers may feel a false sense of confidence when under the influence of alcohol and lose their inhibitions, meaning they are more likely to take risks. Although the rate at which alcohol is removed from the bloodstream is roughly 0.015g/100mll per hour, alcohol can still show up in a blood test for up to 12 hours.
However, if you do decide to have a drink responsibly while you're abroad and have to drive, we’ve put together a handy guide that explores the world’s legal drink driving limits, country by country. This is to help you navigate through the different laws around the world so that you can plan confidently and safely for a trip to remember and not one to forget.
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We used three primary sources to gather the data:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD)
- International Drivers Association (IDA)
We treated the WHO as the most reliable source. We primarily used this to cross-reference drink driving limits for both regular and novice drivers.
In regards to the data on alcohol limits for professional and commercial drivers, we cross-referenced this with IARD.
There were countries that either had no drink driving data available or we couldn't find the data to cross-reference it.
Finally, we explored different countries' drink driving fines regarding drink driving, primarily using Wikipedia and the IDA to find them.
Getting caught over the legal limit abroad can be expensive, with punishments ranging from fines to losing your license or even a prison sentence. For example, in Andorra, they’ll issue a fine if they catch you driving with BAC levels beyond the allowable limit:
Refusal to undergo a BAC test in Andorra will result in a fine of €300 and suspension of your license for three months.
In Albania, if the level of alcohol in the bloodstream exceeds what is allowed, which is a BAC of 0.05%, a fine between €20 and €81will be enforced, and you’ll have your driving license suspended from six to 12 months. If the driver refuses to take a test for the presence of alcohol in the blood, a fine between €41 and €162 will be imposed, and they will also suspend the individual’s driving license for six to 12 months.
Furthermore, in Croatia violating the law in regards to driving and alcohol will get you a penalty based on the alcohol amount in your blood. BAC levels beyond the allowable will be fined accordingly in Croatia:
Similarly, in New Zealand, those who are caught driving while under the influence of alcohol will lose their license for six months, receive a large fine and gain a criminal record in the country. It’s essential to remember that the BAC limit in New Zealand is 0.05%.
In India, the legal BAC limit is 0.03% and punishment for drunk driving depends on whether this is your first or second offense. If it is your first offense, the punishment is imprisonment for six months, a fine of €119, or both. If it is your second offense committed within three years, the punishment is two years, a fine of €7481, or both.
In South Africa, the legal BAC is less than 0.05%, and being caught drunk driving means you'll be liable to pay for the drunk driving charges, which are up to €7482. Drunk driving cases in South Africa are widespread, and the law has become stricter. A drunk driving case law in South Africa can now be punishable by up to six years in jail.
Moreover, in Brazil, any BAC that is below 0.06% results in a fine. This is doubled if there is a recurrence plus a 12-month license suspension. However, anything above this is considered a criminal offense.
The next South American country to cover is Chile, where a 0.03 to 0.08% BAC means the driver is considered to be driving under the influence and carries a three-month driving suspension and a fine of €74 to €372. A BAC level of over 0.08% carries a prison term of 61 to 301 days, a fine of €148 to €744, a two-year suspension for the first offense, a five-year suspension for a second offense, and a life-long suspension for a third offense.
In Malaysia, if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, you will be required to pay a fine not exceeding €430 and a prison sentence of no longer than six months. Both Malaysian drivers and tourists are expected to adhere to these rules.
Another Asian country with surprising drink driving laws is the Philippines, where drivers who are suspected to be doing so have to conduct sobriety tests. If a driver refuses to undergo a field sobriety test, this will cause the confiscation of their driving license.
Additionally, in Turkey, if you are found to be drink driving, your license will be suspended, and you will be fined depending on whether it is your first, second, or third drink driving offense, starting at €141.
In Finland, the penalty for driving while under the influence of alcohol is a fine or jail for up to six months with a suspension of your license from one month to five years.
In the next European country of France, a €135 fine and six demerit points on the driver's license are enforced when an individual is found to be driving under the influence of alcohol, which can be suspended for up to three years.
In Greece, you can not drive if your BAC is over 0.05% as this is considered a flagrant misdemeanor punishable with up to two years of imprisonment and a hefty fine in the court plus the revocation of the driver's license for six months. Routine breath testing without probable cause is permitted by the Greek traffic police, especially on weekends and major holidays.
It may be surprising to some, but in the Netherlands educational measures or rehabilitation courses are handed out when disobeying the law, and they are compulsory. The LEMA (Light Educational Measure Alcohol and Traffic) consists of two half-days of 3.5 hours each. LEMA is intended for drivers with a BAC between 0.8% and 1.0%.
Finally, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the legal BAC limit for the general population is 0.08%. The maximum sentence for "being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink" is a €2,987 fine, a three-month prison sentence, or a driving ban. It is important to note, however, that in Scotland, the upper BAC limit is 0.05%.
The maximum sentence in the United Kingdom imposed for "driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink" is six months' imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or a driving ban for at least one year (three years if convicted twice in 10 years).
Which countries have zero tolerance for drinking and driving?
The following countries have zero tolerance for driving while under the influence of alcohol for the general population: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Gambia, Hungary, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.
The following countries have a zero-tolerance toward driving while under the influence of alcohol for young/novice drivers: Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Gambia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Other countries that have zero tolerance for driving while under the influence of alcohol for young/novice drivers are Italy, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Montenegro, Nepal, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, the Republic of North Macedonia, Tunisia, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
With the varying laws surrounding drunk driving in the world, it is essential to be aware, especially the drink driving limits of countries you are planning to visit.
However, here at DiscoverCars.com, we always suggest not driving even if you have only had one drink, as everyone metabolizes alcohol differently.
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We operate in over 145 countries and 10,000 locations, so we're sure to have the car rental deal for you, no matter where your next destination happens to be.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels represent the percent of your blood that is concentrated with alcohol. For example, a BAC of 0.10% means that an individual's blood contains one part of alcohol for every 1,000 parts of blood.
All legal information relevant to drinking and driving limits and fines in featured countries is correct at the time of writing on the 24th of March 2022.
Please ensure you check the county you are visiting law to understand your responsibilities and rights.