If you were to travel to another country, you might not even think about the differences between driving laws in your country and your destination. When people travel within the civilized world where driving is the norm, we tend to think that the laws are likely “close enough” to not worry much about. However, this is not always the case. Some visiting drivers have gotten themselves in unwanted trouble by driving in naive violation of local traffic standards. This is especially true when alcohol is involved.
This is something that is particularly worth noting when traveling in Europe. Because of the European Union and the ease of traveling between countries within it, people tend to assume that one law fits all when it comes to drinking and driving. This, however, is not the case. What’s OK in the United Kingdom (where regulations are lax when compared to elsewhere in the EU), might be a major offense elsewhere. We’ll talk about some of the major drink driving limits in Europe below.
In nations like Belarus, a driver is not permitted to be on the road with any alcohol in their system. If a driver is caught after having even one drink, it is likely that their vehicle will be confiscated. This could create a very troublesome problem for a traveler just visiting Belarus, so it should obviously be avoided at all costs.
The situation is much the same and Croatia and the Czech Republic, the latter of which will nullify the license of the driver. Similarly absolute restrictions are in place in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. There are other EU countries which make exceptions, but not these, so don’t even think about driving after you’ve had a drink.
There are a greater number of European countries with policies that are strict, but more permissible than those we’ve discussed up till this point. Germany, Ireland, and France, for example, allow experienced drivers to drink with a BAC of up to 0.05 (though commercial and novice drivers can’t have alcohol at all). Of course, as a visitor you will likely not be considered a novice and you certainly won’t be driving commercially, so you only have to worry about the rules for the average citizen.
Still other European nations have extremely “generous” policies, at least as far as those who like to drive after drinking are concerned. Nations like Great Britain, Gibraltar, and Malta allow all drivers to get behind the wheel with a BAC of up to 0.08. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 drinks for a 100 kilo male adult. That’s quite a lot compared to many other developed nations, but it seems to work well enough for the nations that have chosen this limit.
This by no means exhausts the legal limit variation found between all of the nations in Europe. If you enjoy a drink and you plan to drive yourself around during your stay in one or more European countries, do yourself a favor and be careful to stay below the legal driving limit.