Drink Driving Limits in Europe

Four in five Brits don’t know the drink driving limits in other European countries, a recent survey by CHE.insure reveals. It seems we’re not too clued-up on how much tipple we can have when driving around our favourite holiday destinations.

Countries like Spain and France attract millions of British holidaymakers every year, many of whom hire a car. The CHE.insure survey shows that 82% of UK adults don’t know the drink driving limits in Europe, and a further 11% aren’t sure. If you’re one of them, you could find that a glass of wine or beer over dinner can cause a lot of trouble.

In the UK we have the some of the laxest driving laws in Europe, so it’s easy to assume that our European neighbours might have similar limits. However, this is not the case. Most countries in Europe have lower drink driving limits than the UK, while several have zero tolerance. Penalties include fines, suspension of driving licence, vehicle confiscation and imprisonment.

With such severe punishments, it’s well worth brushing up on European drink driving limits before hiring a car abroad.

The CHE.insure survey

The survey quizzed 2,001 adult participants online between 29th June and 3rd July 2018. The participants are nationally representative which means they closely match the characteristics of the national population.

Other than in the UK, do you know the drink driving limits in other European countries?

Yes, No or Not sure

The survey results reveal:

  • Only 8% of UK adults claim to know the drink driving limits in other European countries
  • 82% of UK adults say they don’t know the drink driving limits in Europe
  • 11% say they are not sure

When it comes to age, younger Brits are more likely to have knowledge in this area:

  • 15% of participants aged between 18 and 34 say they know the drink driving limits in Europe
  • 5% of those aged between 35 and 54 years old claim to know the limits
  • 4% of over 55s say they know the limits

Hiring a car abroad

Driving provides a great deal of freedom on holiday, so when staying in Europe, it’s well worth renting a car. A hire-car means you can visit shops and attractions at your leisure. Or you can simply take to the open road and see where it takes you.

However, it can be a bit of a learning experience, contending with driving on the opposite side of the road for the first time and learning the local customs. But while you can pick up local customs as you go, drink driving laws are something that you should be aware of before you get behind the wheel in Europe.

Know the law before you drive in Europe

It can be a bit of a chore to find the information you need when all you’re thinking about is new swimwear and flip-flops for the kids. So, here’s a straightforward guide detailing drink driving laws across Europe.

This graphic guide first shows Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) according to your weight, gender and how many drinks you’ve had. BAC is the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream and can be measured by blood, breath or urine tests.

The guide then displays the legal BAC limit in each European country, the various penalties you can receive, and is colour-coded according to tolerance levels of each country (red is harshest; yellow most tolerant).


drink driving limits in Europe - graphic

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