Driving Drunk: Legal Limits vary by Country in Europe

So much a part of touring Europe is enjoying the fine wines and beers one can find there.

One shouldn’t, however, enjoy these libations if they happen to be touring in a rental car.

Back home you probably know exactly how much you can drink while remaining under the legal limit for driving. In California where I live, for example, the legal limit is .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Every time I renew my car registration I get a little chart that tells me I can have three drinks and still be under the limit. Personally, if I’m driving, I never take the chance; I either drink Coke, or cut myself off after one beer.

But in Europe, the laws are different. And, they vary by country. Those same three drinks that are okay to consume in England, for example, will put you behind bars in most other European countries. And, in places like the Czech Republic and Hungary, a single drink will do the trick.

Certainly the best advice is DON’T DRIVE if you are drinking–especially on the unfamiliar roads of a foreign country. If you are dumb enough to do so, here is a short list of legal limits by country. But please, let me know when you’re visiting so I can stay off the roads.

0.08 = UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta (same as the United States)
0.05 = Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain
0.04 = Lithuania
0.02 = Norway, Poland, Sweden
Zero tolerance = Estonia, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary

Want more information on Europe? Check out our Europe destination guide.