Almost all countries around the world have policies that seek out and punish drink drivers in order to keep other drivers and pedestrians safe and to deter other drivers from taking unnecessary risks.
Different countries have differing legal blood or breath alcohol limits, but they’re all roughly the same, and in most countries drink driving is punished by fines, driving bans and imprisonment. Here’s a quick review of what happens around the world to anyone convicted of drink driving.


In China the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.02%. For drivers caught with a blood alcohol content of between 0.02% and 0.08% there is a fine of between 1,000 and 2,000 Yuen and a six-month ban. For 0.08% and over there may be up to three years in prison and a five-year driving ban. If a driver causes serious injury or death, the ban is lifelong.


In Japan the legal limit is 0.15mg per litre of breath (breath alcohol content, or BrAC), which is equivalent to 0.03%. Japanese police can also decide that a driver is “driving drunk” which has more serious consequences than actually being over the limit.

The UK

In England and Wales the legal limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood, 35 μg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine (Scotland has a lower limit of 50mg per 100ml of blood). It’s an offence to fail to provide a sample the penalties for which are similar to drink driving; read some case studies from a drink drive solicitor to see how cases are handled.


The legal limit in Sweden is 0.02% and if convicted, drivers face six months in prison. For results of 0.10% and over, the maximum is two years behind bars. Swedish police carry out around 2.5 million random alcohol tests on drivers annually.


In Greece the limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.02% for new drivers (two years or less), motorbike riders and professional drivers. Above 0.11% may result in up to two years in prison and a large fine, as well as a six-month driving ban. Greek police can carry out breath tests without probable cause and perform many on weekends and holidays.


The legal limit is 0.05% and 0.12% or over is considered to be an aggravated offence. For new drivers the limit is zero and the penalties are fines or six months in prison, as well as bans ranging from one month to five years. For aggravated offences, jail terms can range from 60 days to two years and the police can perform random breath testing without probable cause and often do.


Drivers with below 0.05% blood alcohol content (BAC) will get a warning, but 0.05% and over will result in a fine and a ban of between six months and two years. If an accident caused by drink driving results in the death or severe injury of another, there may be a custodial sentence. If a driver with a BAC of 0.101% or over causes death or serious injury, there is an automatic jail sentence of three to five years and a lifetime driving ban.

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