Alcohol & Driving
Most countries disapprove of driving while under the influence of alcohol. While many drivers wouldn’t dream of driving after a few drinks, unfortunately a few go through the ‘I feel fine’ phase and this is when accidents happen and often involve innocent people.
Governments all over Europe are tightening up their drinking and driving laws so visitors must be aware of the rules. The UK has relatively lax drink-drive laws compared to countries like Russia who have zero tolerance. The UK limit is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood and this is the highest limit in the world. This can lead to problems when the British holiday abroad and think they are safe to drive after a glass of wine, not realising that the margin of error is significantly lower than back home.
New EU Laws
Proposals are being drawn up to harmonise an EU-wide blood-alcohol limit and a zero limit for young or novice drivers. Ireland has already drastically cut its limits and France has just created a rule requiring all motorists to carry a disposable breath tester. The Scottish Government is proposing a reduction in the 80 mg limit to 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, which is in line with typical continental limits, and Northern Ireland plans to do the same.
As mentioned, Russia has a zero limit when it comes to blood-alcohol levels, and Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic are the same. Some countries have zero tolerance for younger drivers and these include Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, and the United States. Turkey has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers towing a caravan or trailer.
Other countries have such a low limit that it is hardly worth taking the risk and many practise random breath testing at all times of the day so do remember that the previous night’s revelries can reflect on blood-alcohol levels for many hours.
New Zealand and Australia
Both New Zealand and Australia have strict laws regarding drinking and driving, and to do so may result in demerit points, a fine, or even imprisonment. Anyone drinking and driving in these countries including visitors driving rented vehicles is liable to be penalised for contravening these laws. Moreover, driving while under the influence may invalidate a car insurance policy, meaning serious financial implications should there be an accident.
For young and learner drivers there is a strict zero alcohol limit. There are different limits within Australia depending on the type of transport, with taxis and buses having a zero or 0.02% limit and the maximum anywhere is 0.05%. In New Zealand, older and experienced drivers may not drive with more than 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.
The best way to avoid any drink driving issues is to avoid driving. Enjoy a few drinks then phone for a taxi or a friend or family member to take you home.