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Blood Alcohol Limits in the EU

If you are going abroad it is wise to know the local drink drive limits. Britons and Americans in visiting Germany could be over the local limit after only half as many drinks as they would be at home. In Sweden, Cyprus and other countries you can only drink around one fifth as much as at home before being over the limit.

Alcohol and Driving

Drinking and driving is never a good idea. Alcohol will lower your reaction time when you are driving, and drink driving is a major cause of accidents. The absolute best idea if you’re driving is not to drink anything at all, that way you know that you’re safe. Alternatively, have a designated driver, who can take you and your car home. In most big cities all over the EU you will find angel services that will provide a driver to take your car and you where you need to be if you find that you’ve had one drink too many, or you can always leave your car parked and take a taxi or public transport.

blood alcohol limits

When driving on holiday, things can get a little confusing, since there are seven different sets of drink driving regulations inside the European Union. Breaking these regulations will generally find you in a lot of trouble, and having your driving license suspended. Getting your license taken away when you’re on holiday is no joke, it can leave you stranded with no way to get where you need to be. Therefore it’s very important that you know the drink driving regulations of the country that you’re visiting.

National Limits

As far as zero tolerance goes, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia all forbid driving with any alcohol in your system at all. This means no drinking. Be especially aware about driving the morning after a night of drinking, since there may still be alcohol in your blood stream, which could cost you your license.

Other EU countries limit the amount of alcohol you can have in your system. Measurements are given in grams of alcohol per litre of blood. In Sweden, Poland, Estonia and Finland the legal limit is 0.2g per litre(0.02%). In Cyprus, it’s 0.22g per litre (0.022%). This is effectively a zero drink/drive limit.

Lithuania limits you to 0.4g (0.04%), and Lativa to 0.49g per litre (0.049%).

Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and the United Kingdom have the highest limits with 0.8g per litre (0.08%) allowed. All other countries who have not thus far been mentioned limit you to 0.5g pre litre (0.05%) of blood.

How Many Drinks

In general, 0.5g per litre is around one small beer. However, this can vary widely depending on your weight, height and whether you’re a man or a woman. Other things to consider are whether or not you’re eating. Eating has a serious effect on the amount of alcohol absorbed into your system. Two glasses of wine will give a sixty kilo woman an average of 0.7g per litre, but if she’s eating a substanstial meal, that goes down to 0.5g. Flying also has an effect, a stronger effect that should be noted. Drinking on a plane and then getting into your rental car at the airport is not a great idea, since the effects of alcohol at high altitude are far stronger than at ground level.

Drink Sizes

Also, you must beware of standard drink sizes. Restaurants and bars do not, generally, serve single units of alcohol. The standard European beer size, for example, is half a litre, which equates to two units of alcohol, not one. And beer strength in particular varies widely between European countries. A Czech beer may well be several percent stronger than a Dutch beer. A standard bottle of wine is 750ml, and when that is shared equally between three people amounts to two and a half standard alcohol units per person.

It is not wise to drive after any alcohol. But if you must, make sure you know the law of the land. And when in doubt, take a taxi. It’s really not worth the risk.

Phil Turner thinks it is best to abide by the zero alcohol when driving rule. He knows that any alcohol affects his reactions and judgement, so it is best to keep the two totally separate, especially with other drivers drinking and driving. He knows that any car insurance quote even years after a drink/driving coviction will be four times what it would be otherwise.

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