European Drink Driving Laws – Know the Rules

By , 19 December 2018

If you’re heading to Europe on holiday soon, then it’s worth brushing up on the drink drive limits for each country. Bear in mind that these are measured as a percentage of B.A.C. (blood alcohol content) rather than “How many glasses, or bottles you’re allowed (full disclaimer: it equates to very little).

The real problem is that everyone tolerates alcohol differently, a glass of wine for one person may raise your blood alcohol by 0.2% but it may raise it in someone else to 0.4%. The best advice we can give you is that if you’re the driver, stay away from alcohol completely and you know you won’t have a problem.

What are the Numbers?

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of drink-drive limits for European countries, from most strict, to least. This list was correct as of December 2017.

Coming in at an allowed B.A.C. of 0%, are Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. If a drink touches your lips before you drive, and you’re pulled over expect to be in big trouble indeed.

Moving to the next group of countries. These all sit at the 0.2% B.A.C. mark, so a very small amount of alcohol is allowed before you drive. The three countries that make up this list are: Estonia, Poland and Sweden.

There’s just one country in the next section: Lithuania is the only European country on our list with a drink drive limit of 0.4% B.A.C.

By far the most widely Next up is the bulk of European countries at 0.5% B.A.C. Whilst this may seem like a sizable jump from 0.2%, this is still a surprisingly small amount of alcohol. On this list is:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Scotland
  • Switzerland

Well after that list, there’s very few countries left. But crucially you may notice that the UK (excluding Scotland) isn’t there yet. That’s because, with an allowance of a whopping 0.8% B.A.C., along with Malta we’re one of the most lenient countries in Europe in terms of drink driving limits.

Where ever you end up in Europe, you should always go adequately prepared with up-to-date information, and adequate car hire cover. Have a look at our car hire excess insurance page, for more information on what our cover can do for you.