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What you need to know about drink-driving laws abroad

Drink-driving laws: do you know your limits?

You’ve just booked that epic road trip that you’ve always dreamed of. You’ve planned your route, ordered your hire car and have everything in place for the holiday of a lifetime.


But have you given any thought to the drink-driving laws of the countries you’re going to visit, and how much booze might put you over the limit?



Alcohol laws and legal drink-driving limits vary greatly from one country to the next, leaving unwitting tourists vulnerable to hefty fines or even a prison sentence if they are caught over the limit - so it pays to know the law.


Research by has found that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits differ so much around the world that sometimes even driving over a border could inadvertently put you over the limit.


  • If you’re on a road trip around the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh all have zero tolerance - but neighboring India allows a blood alcohol concentration of 0.03%.
  • Drink driving around the Gulf states could cause big problems for tourists - whilst alcohol is often available in hotels or resorts, Saudi Arabia has a total ban on alcohol, whilst Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have zero tolerance approach.
  • Scotland has a lower legal limit than England - crossing the border sees the limit drop from 0.08% BAC to 0.05%.


The punishments for being caught over the limit can range from large fines to having your driver’s licence suspended - and even time behind bars.


  • In South Africa, being convicted of drunk driving could land you up to six years in prison.
  • In Sweden, the drink-drive limit is a low 0.02% - drivers caught exceeding the limit face a hefty fine and up to six months in jail.
  • If you’re convicted of drink driving in Malaysia your spouse can be jailed too - even if they weren’t in the car at the time.



Some countries don’t have any limits at all - but you can still be arrested if you’re driving dangerously.


  • In Barbados, there’s no blood alcohol concentration limit - but there is a law for driving without due care and attention.
  • For African adventurers, Togo has no drink-drive limit - but cross the border to neighbouring Ghana and the drink-drive limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
  • On the Marshall Islands, there’s no limit and drink driving amongst locals is common, especially on weekends.


In some countries, the legal limit is often lower if you’re a young or commercial driver – and penalties can be more severe.


“The safest way to travel is to not drink and drive at all,” Dmitrijs Zaznovs from said.  


“Even if you feel ok to drive, you may still be over the legal limit for driving in a country you don’t know very well.


“Our new map will encourage drivers to think about what they are drinking and how it might affect them, so that they can abide by the laws of their country, but most importantly, have a safe trip.”


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Published: 3 June 2019

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