European Drink Driving Limts | French Breathalyzer Limits

The drink driving limits across europe vary from country to country with most being lower than here in the UK. British drivers travelling abroad should be aware of this as the UK limit at 0.08% BAC ( 80mg /100ml or 0.8 g/l ) is significantly higher than most of our European neighbours, and it would be very easy to find yourself unknowingly breaking the law when abroad.

Our closest neighbours France, Belgium & Ireland have levels of 0.05% BAC.  Ireland’s limits changed from 0.08% BAC to 0.05% BAC last Autumn 2011, as research from other European countries has shown significant reduction in road trafiic accidents in which alcohol was a factor following a reduced limit. Ireland has also introduced a zero tolerance for learner drivers. Recently France has become much more pro-active, and has introduced a law requireing drivers to carry self breathalyzer kits which will come into effect on 1st July 2012.

Some countries, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, in fact operate a zero tolerance to drink driving for all drivers. The levels are constantly being changed across Europe, and the trend is downward. If you are driving abroad it is important to check the current levels for the county that you are visiting at the time you are visiting, and to exercise extreme caution as the penalties also vary from country to country.

The safest thing is to abstain completely from drinking alcohol when driving, however many drivers are unaware that they may still be over the limit the morning after consuming alcohol, and this is more likely to be the case in countries where the limts are lower.

In some countries novice drivers (less than 2-3 years since they passed their driving test) are set lower limits than more experienced drivers.
Most breathalyzer kits and digital breathalysers sold in UK display in % BAC

So this means that:
0.2 g/l is same as 0.02 %BAC
0.5 g/l is same as 0.05 %BAC
0.8 g/l is same as 0.08 %BAC

The limts are changing constantly so check the details for the country that you are visiting at the time you are visiting.

Useful Source of information:

European Commission on Road Safety
http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/knowledge/alcohol/prevalence_amp_rate_of_alcohol_consumption/the_legal_limit.htm