Alcohol driving limits vary across the globe

Brits who will undertake international relocation as part of work need to be aware that drink-driving limits not only vary from one European country to the next, but that there is also a trend across the continent for tougher laws.
At a political level there is talk of a uniform approach to drink-driving limits, with the European Commission developing proposals to centralise this legislatively. At the heart of the proposed changes is a move towards a “zero tolerance” approach.
The Telegraph’s Nick Trend, who specialises in travel, found this to be already true in some countries like Russia. While at a drinks reception in Moscow, the journalist was surprised by a remark made by one of the guests.
She was debating whether to have one glass of wine, which she noted would result in her having to leave her car and opt instead for public transport.
Mr Trend replied that one glass wouldn’t matter, to which the lady in question replied: “No. In Russia there is zero tolerance. “They think that if we have one drink we won’t be able to stop.”
While the UK has, comparatively speaking, a more relaxed attitude to drink-driving – though by no means lax – with a limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml, time after time, the official advice emanating from Whitehall is “do not drink and drive”.
“There’s no safe way to calculate how much alcohol you can drink and stay below the limit,” the government states. “The only way to stay safe is not to drink any alcohol if you’re driving.”
After all, the way alcohol affects the body varies from person to person because of factors like age, sex, weight and metabolism (the rate at which your body consumes energy).
Other ways in which alcohol levels can be impacted upon include your stress level at the time of being behind a wheel, the kind of food that you have eaten and the variety of alcohol that has been consumed.
A further factor that articulates the importance of not drink-driving in a foreign country is the fact that the rules of the law and the terrain itself are completely new.
As such, it takes a considerable amount of time before people familiarise themselves with the regulations – and even customs – that govern the roads.
Add alcohol to that picture, and even if it is within the limit, it can have a massive impact on people’s judgements.
Thus, the only safe way is to avoid drinking and driving completely to ensure that concentration is at its most efficient.
Here is a rundown of some of the limits of countries across the globe.
An absolute zero tolerance approach is practised in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Any breach of these rules usually results in heavy on-the-spot-fines with the possibility of criminal proceedings in instances where drivers are seriously intoxicated.
They operate a tight operation in Spain: for motorists with over two years of experience, the limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml.
For novice drivers it is 30mg. Sentences for breaking these limits include a fine, loss of license and the possibility of imprisonment.
Equally, in France, the mood is shifting towards more severe regulations. From July 1st, the country’s laws will require all drivers and cyclists – except for moped drivers – to carry with them a full breathalyser kit.
Like Spain, the limit is 50mg, though the noticeable difference in policy is that French authorities are renowned for carrying out regular random tests.
The Scandinavian countries meanwhile are extremely tough, bordering on zero tolerance. In Norway and Sweden, the limit is set at 20mg of alcohol per 100ml, which if breached, results in severe fines.
Punishment is often metered out according to the level of alcohol in a driver. For example, if UK the UK legal equivalent is recorded – 80mg – there is a fine of at least £1,000, suspension of licence for 18 months, and the possibility of a three-year prison sentence.
In the US, the drink-driving limit is, for the most part, 80mg, but because of the way in which the country’s political system operates – states have a high degree of autonomy – it can be as low as 50mg.
However, what binds states is their attitude towards youngsters’ drink-driving – known in the US as a DUI (drinking under the influence). There is a zero tolerance approach to those caught drink-driving under the age of 21 (Americans can drive legally from the age of 16).
If any clear picture emerges then it is one in which drink-driving should be avoided at every opportunity. Drink-driving laws exist to provide some sort of structure to society, to ensure that where people step beyond a certain point, they are punished accordingly.
Of course, there is a legitimate argument that there should be a blanket ban on drink-driving. Now while this makes sense, there is perhaps a tacit understanding of the alcohol’s presence in all sorts of cultural and social situations.
While this isn’t meant to encourage people to enjoy a drink and drive, it does offer security to those who’ve had a small beverage – let’s say an aperitif ahead of a work social event – and are fully capable of driving in a safe and confident manner.
Brits moving overseas should always border on caution. Stay safe, trouble-free and out of trouble – don’t drink-drive.