Drink driving: Legislation

Legal blood alcohol content (BAC) levels vary widely across Europe. Most countries have a limit of 0.5 mg/ml, but the UK, Ireland and Luxemburg have 0.8 mg/ml, and Cyprus 0.9 mg/ml. Sweden and some of the new EU countries (e.g. Poland, Estonia) on the other hand have limits of 0.2 mg/ml or even 0.0 mg/ml (Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary).

Some countries (e.g. Austria, Greece, Spain and recently also France) have, in addition, lower BAC limits for novice drivers or lorry and bus drivers. The TIS.pt study reflects the situation in 15 EU Member States as of July 2003.

Efforts to harmonise legal BAC limits at European level have failed. In 2001, the European Commission published however a Recommendation saying all Member States should adopt a legal BAC limit of 0.5 mg/ml or lower for all drivers, and a limit of 0.2 mg/ml for inexperienced drivers, motorcyclists, drivers of heavy vehicles and drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods. Although not legislative in nature, the explanatory memorandum was also published in the Official Journal.

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