ETSC experts estimate that across the EU about 2% of all journeys are associated with an illegal blood alcohol level. In Finland and Sweden, the two countries with the lowest share of offences, less than 1% of all journeys are made under the influence of alcohol (ETSC, 2003).
Many European drivers readily admit to driving even if they feel they could be over the limit. More than two thirds of them believe they will "never" or "rarely" be checked for alcohol (SARTRE II).
Figure 1. Over the last week, how many days did you drive when you may have been over the limit for drinking and driving (in%)? (SARTRE II)
The probability of being breathalysed is indeed in many countries very low. ETSC estimates that on average, 1 in 16 inhabitants are tested every year in the EU (ETSC, 2003), and according to the most recent SARTRE III survey, 29% of European drivers are checked for drink driving over a period of three years.
Drivers with an illegal BAC level cause about 30-40% of all driver fatalities and 25% of all driver injuries in Europe (ETSC, 2003). In the three SUN countries (Sweden, UK and Netherlands), about 10-14% of all fatal accidents are caused by a driver over the limit (SUNFLOWER report).
PACTS Briefing Paper: Drink driving in the UK (March 2003)
National Road Safety Council, France: Faut-il abaisser le taux d'alcool autorisť sur la route? (March 2004)
European Council for Alcohol Research Rehabilitation and Education (EUROCARE): Report on Drinking and Driving (2003)