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Drink Driving Abroad

Car keys next to a spilled drink owned by a drunk driver

Picture the scene:

  • You’re sat in a bar on holiday in Spain.
  • The beautiful sun is beaming down.
  • You’re happily enjoying your third cocktail.

That sounds great, doesn’t it? But did you know that many Brits think it would be okay to drive back to the hotel after a day of drinking on holiday?

In Spain, for example, many holidaymakers are unaware that the legal alcohol limit is actually 0.05mg per litre of blood. This is 0.03mg lower than the legal limit in the UK.

So that you can be better prepared for your trip abroad, we’ve put together a list of some popular countries and some information about their drink-driving laws and convictions.


The laws on drunk driving in France have recently been changed.

The legal limit for drivers who have passed their driving test within the last three years has been dropped from 0.05 to 0.02. The drink driving limit for other drivers is still 0.05mg.

It’s also the law for drivers to have a disposable breathalyzer kit in the car with them. If you are travelling to France, it is advised that you carry at least two, as if you are stopped and have to use one, you can continue driving safe in the knowledge that you have another in your vehicle.

If you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol in France, you could be fined €4,500 and/or face up to two years in prison.


In Spain, the drink-driving limit is 0.05. However, it is lowered to 0.03 for drivers with less than two years of experience.

If you’re over the legal limit in Spain, you could be fined €500 for your first offence. Drivers found to be over 0.12 face up to six months in prison and a 4-year ban.


As in France and Spain, the drink-driving laws in Germany depend on one’s driving experience.

If you’ve been driving for less than two years or are under 21 years of age, you can’t have any alcohol at all before getting behind the wheel.

If you are stopped for a different reason and the police officer gives you a breath test, you will receive a conviction. However, if the offence was not thought to be caused by alcohol, the limit would rise to 0.05.

If you’re driving with 0.11mg of alcohol in your bloodstream, you’ll receive a twelve-month ban, and if you’re found to have 0.16, you’ll need to have a medical and psychological assessment before being allowed anywhere near the wheel of a car.


Italy has three different levels of drink driving:

0.05: The standard drink driving limit in Italy. This could result in anything from a fine to imprisonment.

0.08 or higher: This can result in the driver facing up to six months in prison.

0.15 or higher: The driver could face up to a year in prison.


The drink driving limit in Ireland is 0.05, which is lowered to 0.02 for drivers who have had their license for under two years.

A drunk driving conviction usually carries a €1,500 fine and a 2-year driving ban.


The drink driving limit in Canada is 0.08. You can be convicted if you refuse to give a breath test or a blood sample.

The consequences of your conviction depend on how many previous convictions you have had. For your first offence, you could be looking at a $1,000 fine and your license suspended for a year.

For your second offence, you could face up to 30 days in prison and a two-year driving ban, and for your third offence, you could be looking at up to 120 days in prison and a three-year driving ban.

If you have a drink-driving conviction and you’re eager to get back on the road, please visit our dedicated website page.