ON  DWI  LAWS IN 
OTHER COUNTRIES

DOT HS 809 037
March 2000





Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Countries Included

Laws Included

Methodology

Results

Background and Introduction

Countries Included

Laws Included

Methodology

Comparison of Impaired Driving and Related Laws

Impaired Driving Laws

Illegal BAC

Sanctions

Drivers Licensing Laws

Enforcement

Alcohol Use

Laws Related to Youth

Social Attitudes about Drinking and Driving in Europe

The Impact of International Trade Agreements

Other Research Needed

References

Appendix A

Appendix B











Executive Summary

Much of the progress that has been made in impaired driving in the last decade or more has been facilitated by lessons learned from other countries. It is therefore both timely and appropriate for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to sponsor a systematic effort to gather information about impaired driving laws from countries around the world. The intent of this effort is to contribute to our understanding of impaired driving countermeasures and of how the current situation in the United States compares to other countries. The parameters of the report are described below.

 

Countries Included

The primary purpose of this project is to provide comparisons with the United States, and therefore possible guidance in the development and implementation of impaired driving policies in this country. Therefore, the main focus of data collection was on countries that would be considered most directly comparable to the United States, economically and demographically, as well as those countries with which we have the most direct dealings. These countries include:

 

Other countries of possible interest were included as data were available.

 

Laws Included

While many different laws are relevant to impaired driving, this project focused on several of the most important laws. These laws include:

 

Methodology

Most of the information for this report was gathered through inquiries from key informants identified in each of the countries of interest. Most informants were from government transportation agencies. Some informants were from relevant university departments. In some cased, available information was collected from other published or unpublished sources. Appendix A indicates the source(s) of information for each country.

 

Results

The results of the overview of laws indicate some of the major differences across countries and some of the contrasts between the United States and other countries. Major findings include:

 

 

The potential impact of international free trade agreements on laws and policies related to traffic safety must be considered in this context. Another important factor in international comparisons is the cultural differences reflected in public attitudes towards impaired driving and towards relevant laws.

 

Analysis of the relationship between laws related to impaired driving and the proportion of alcohol-related crashes is a logical next step. This analysis must be undertaken with caution because of the complicated measurement issues inherent in reporting of alcohol involvement in traffic crashes.

 

 

Background and Introduction

Much of the progress that has been made in impaired driving in the last decade or more has been facilitated by lessons learned from other countries. For example, the United States drew valuable lessons regarding deterrence from analyzing the results of the British Road Safety Act of 1967. Similarly, we have learned about alcohol policy and serious enforcement and penalties from some of the Scandinavian countries. The Australian experience with random breath testing has influenced some of our own enforcement efforts. It is therefore both timely and appropriate for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to sponsor a systematic effort to gather information about impaired driving laws from countries around the world. The intent of this effort is to contribute to our understanding of impaired driving countermeasures and of how the current situation in the United States compares to other countries. The parameters of the report are described below.

 

Countries Included

The primary purpose of this project is to provide comparisons with the United States, and therefore possible guidance in the development and implementation of impaired driving policies in this country. Therefore, the main focus of data collection was on countries that would be considered most directly comparable to the US, economically and demographically, as well as those countries with which we have the most direct dealings. These countries include:

 

Other countries of possible interest were included as data were available. These include Brazil, the Czech Republic, and Russia.

 

Laws Included

While many different laws are relevant to impaired driving, this project focused on several of the most important laws. These laws include:

 

For some countries, of course, laws are not standard nation-wide, but rather vary by state or province. Where this is the case, information about each sub-national entity is reported separately.

Each of these areas of legislation, policy, and practice is discussed below. In addition, Appendix B provides information for each country.

 

Methodology

Most of the information for this report was gathered through inquiries from key informants identified in each of the countries of interest. Most informants were from government transportation agencies. Some informants were from relevant university departments. In some cased, available information was collected from other published or unpublished sources. Appendix A indicates the source(s) of information for each country.

 

Comparison of Impaired Driving
and Related Laws

 

Impaired Driving Laws

Several types of legislation may play key roles in controlling impaired driving. These include the BAC level established as illegal, the sanctions imposed for impaired driving under different circumstances, the use of rehabilitation programs for offenders, and the system for regranting the licenses of offenders whose driving privilege has been suspended or revoked. Existing laws in each of these areas are described below.

 

Illegal BAC

All countries included in the study have established a blood alcohol content that is considered either per se or preemptive evidence of impairment. The illegal BAC level has been found to have an effect on impaired driving crashes (Johnson and Fell 1995, C berg 1995).

As can be seen in Table 1, all of the countries studied had a BAC level lower than that established in most of the United States (.10).

The lowest illegal BAC level is in Sweden (.02). The majority of countries have established .05 as the illegal BAC, with the remaining countries maintaining an illegal level of .08. The trend has been downward in recent years, with nine countries having reduced the illegal BAC level within the past five years or with new lower limits about to be implemented. These recent reductions in illegal BAC levels have resulted in some pre-post evaluations of the effects of the change. Belgium lowered its limit to .05 in December of 1994, reporting a 14 percent reduction in fatalities in the following year. The legal limit in France was lowered to .05 in December of 1995. Fatal crashes in 1996 were reduced by 4 percent (ETSC 1997).

As mentioned above for driver licensing laws, a few countries have established a lower BAC for young drivers. Such laws have been found to be effective in the United States in reducing alcohol- related crashes among young drivers (Hingson et al. 1994, Blomberg 1992).

Interestingly, few countries have established lower BACs for drivers of commercial vehicles or vehicles used in public transportation. This is in contrast to laws in the United States regarding commercial drivers in which any alcohol present removes the driver from service for 24 hours and a BAC of .04 is a legal violation.

 

Sanctions

Research has found that the nature and severity of sanctions can have an effect on impaired driving crashes.

As can be seen in Table 2, most countries have established fines and licensing sanctions for impaired driving offenses. Jail sentences are also possible in most countries. Fines in some countries (e.g., Finland and Sweden) are based in part on the offenderís income. License sanctions vary widely. For example, in the United Kingdom, first offenders rarely receive license penalties. In Italy, the suspension is for 15 days for a first offense and one month for a repeat offense. License suspensions more typically run three months or more.

A key difference among countries is the basis upon which more severe penalties apply. In the United States, most states establish penalties based on whether the offender had one or more previous offenses. Penalties may also depend on whether the impaired driving incident resulted in a crash and whether the crash resulted in an injury or death. In the majority of other countries, by contrast, the arrest BAC is of primary importance in determining the penalty.

Table 1: BAC Limits for Categories of Drivers

Country

BAC Limit

Date Enacted

BAC for Younger Drivers

BAC for Others

Australia

.05

See State detail

See State detail

See State detail

Australian Capitol Territory

Since January 1, 1991

.02 for learners, provisional licenses; for new drivers under the age of 25; for the first 3 years of driving.

.02 for drivers of vehicles over 15 GVMt plus dangerous goods. .02 for drivers of licensed public vehicles

New South Wales

.05 since December 17, 1982; .02 for learner since April 2, 1985, .02 for younger drivers, passenger or heavy vehicles since January 1, 1991

.02 for learners, provisional licenses (since 4/2/85); .02 for new drivers under the age of 25; for the first 3 years of driving (since 1/1/91)

.02 for drivers of heavy vehicles > 13.9GVMt and dangerous or radioactive goods vehicles, buses, taxi cabs, hire cars (passenger vehicles >13.9t)

Northern Territory

.05 passed in 1992, implemented in 1994; .00 for new drivers in 1985; .00 for certain vehicles passed in 1992, but commencement pending

.00 (.02 tolerance) for unlicensed, learner and provisional license drivers (1985)

.02 for drivers of vehicles >15GVMt + dangerous goods; of buses with more than 12 seats and vehicles with passengers in load space.

Queensland

.05 since December 20, 1982. .00 for young drivers and drivers of buses or heavy vehicles since January 1, 1991

.00 (.02 tolerance) for drivers under 21.

.02 tolerance for drivers of vehicles > 4.5GVMt, and for drivers of buses.

South Australia

.05 since July 1, 1992. .02 for young drivers and drivers of certain vehicles since June 1, 1992

.02 for drivers up to 19 years.

.02 for drivers of vehicles > 15 GVMt; drivers of buses with more than 12 seats, taxis, and hire cars

Tasmania

.05 since January 6, 1983; .00 for new drivers and drivers of certain vehicles since May 1992

.00 (.02 tolerance) for 3 years for new drivers and those not holding a license for 12 months.

.00 (.02 tolerance) for drivers of vehicles >4.5+ >7.5 combination; for buses with more than 12 seats and licensed public vehicles.

Victoria

.05 since June 1976. .00 (.02 tolerance) for new drivers and drivers of heavy or passenger vehicles since January 1, 1992.

.00 (.02 tolerance) for 1st year probationary and unlicensed drivers. Zero limit extended for first three years of license. (8/2/90)

..02 tolerance for drivers of vehicles >15GVMt, and drivers of buses with 12 or more passengers.

Western Australia

.05 since September 1988; .02 for probationary drivers since August 1982.

.02 for probationary drivers for 12 months

Legislation proposed but not yet passed: .02 BAC limit for drivers of vehicles >15 and for drivers of buses with more than 8 seats, taxis, hire cars

Austria

.05 or 0.25 mg/l in breath

Since January 1, 1998 (BAC for novice drivers since 1992)

0.01 or .05 mg/l in breath for novice drivers during a 2-year probation period and for riders of motorcycles and other vehicles age 20 or less

0.01 or .05 mg/l in breath for drivers of vehicles over 7.5 tons or buses.

Belgium

.05 or 0.22 mg/liter of breath

Since December 1, 1994

No difference.

No difference.

Brazil

.08

Not available

Not available

Not available

Canada

.08

1969

See details by Province.

See details by Province.

Alberta

 

No difference.

No difference.

British Columbia

 

No difference, but under review.

No difference.

Manitoba

 

No difference, but under review.

No difference.

New Brunswick

 

For new drivers, the BAC limit is .00 for a minimum of 27 months.

No difference.

Newfoundland

.05 regulations that suspend driving priviledges at lower levels of alcohol than the Federal laws.

No difference.

No difference.

Northwest Territories

 

No difference.

No difference.

Nova Scotia

 

For new drivers, the BAC limit is .00 for a minimum of 27 months.

No difference.

Ontario

 

All new drivers are subject to a BAC limit of .00 for 20 months. Penalty is a 30 day suspension and $90 fine.

No difference.

Prince Edward Island

 

For drivers under age 19, BAC limit is .01.

No difference.

Quebec

 

For new drivers, .00 BAC for the first 24 months. Penalty is an immediate suspension of 15 days and 3 months suspension upon conviction.

No difference.

Saskatchewan

 

BAC limit of .04.

No difference.

Yukon

 

No difference.

No difference.

Czech Republic

.00

Not available

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

Denmark

.05

Since March 1, 1998. Denmark plans to evaluate the new legal limit next year.

No difference.

No difference.

Finland

There are two limits: .05 or 0.25 mg/l for breath; 0.12 or 0.6 mg/l for breath for severe drunken driving

Since 1994

No difference.

No difference.

France

.05 for a simple offense; .08 is a penal offense

Since September, 1995

No difference.

No difference.

Germany

.05, 0.11 for criminal offense

.08 since 1973; .05 and 1.10 for criminal offense since April 1998

No difference.

No difference.

Greece

.05

Not available

Not available

Not available

Ireland

.08

Not available

Not available

Not available

Italy

.08

Since 1988

No difference.

No difference.

Japan

.00 in practive

Since 1970

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

Luxembourg

.08

Since 1972

No difference.

No difference.

Netherlands

.05 BAC or 220 mg/l BrAC

Since 1994

No difference.

No difference.

New Zealand

.08 for drivers 20 or older (80 mg alcohol per 100 mls blood or 400 micrograms alcohol/litre breath)

.08 limit introduced in 1978; legal breath alcohol limit of 400 mgs/litre in 1988; lower limits for under 20 in 1992

.03 percent for drivers aged less than 20 (30 mg alcohol/100 mls blood or 150 micrograms alcohol/litre breath)

No difference.

Norway

.05

The Norwegian government plans to propose an amendment to the Road Traffic Act to lower the BAC limit to .02 with an equivalent limit in breath.

Not available

Not available

Portugal

.05

Since January 3, 1998

Not available

Not available

Russia

.02

Not available

Not available

Not available

Spain

.08 (will be .05 as of May 6, 1999)

New legislation will be in force on May 6, 1999

No difference

.05 for vehicles over 3,500; .03 for passenger vehicles (will be .03 for both as of May 6, 1999).

Sweden

.02 for drunken driving and 0.10 for gross drunken driving

A BAC level of .08 was established in 1941. The limit was lowered to .05 in 1957, and to .02 in 1990.

No difference.

No difference.

Switzerland

.08

Not available

Not available

Not available

United Kingdom

.08; Breath alcohol limit 35 microgrammes/100 ml (0.35 male); urine alcohol limits 107 mg/100 ml (1.07 g/e)

Since 1967. The UK Government is currently considering lowering the BAC limit to .05.

No difference.

No difference.

United States

.08 in 17 States

.10 in 33 States

Varies from State to State

.00 to .02 in all States

.04 for commercial driving license (Any alcohol is grounds for removal from service for 24 hours.)

Table 2: Summary of Sanctions for First and Multiple Offenses

Country

Sanctions for First Offense

Sanctions for Multiple Offenses

Other Relevant Information

Australia

See State detail.

   

Australian Capitol Territory

Fines are graduated according to BAC level, beginning with .02 and are combined with some suspension of license and possible imprisonment for higher BAC levels.

License suspension increases with BAC level, beginning with a possible 3 month suspension for a BAC of .02 to .05, and increasing to a maximum of 36 months for a BAC of over 1.5.

For .08 to .15, the offender is fined up to 10 penalty units and/or 6 months maximum gaol and 12 months maximum suspension. For BAC over .15, fines up to 15 penalty units and/or 9 months maximum gaol and 36 month maximum suspension.

Fines follow the same graduated scale according to BAC level but amounts are increased for multiple offenses.

License suspensions are graduated according to BAC level as with first offense, but length of suspension is increased for multiple offenses.

Length of sentence increases for multiple offenses.

 

New South Wales

Fines are graduated based on BAC level. For drivers under 25 and professional drivers with BAC between .02 and .05, maximum fine of $550 ($345.95 US) and automatic 3 month disqualification. Fines increase with BAC level

All BAC levels over .02 for drivers under 25 and professional drivers, and over .05 for all other drivers incur an automatic disqualification of the license. The length increases with increased BAC level. Immediate suspension of license for a high range PCA offence.

Up to 6 months imprisonment possible for BAC of .08 to .15; increasing to up to 9 months for BAC greater than .15.

Fines for multiple offenses follow a similar graduated scale according to BAC level, but amounts are increased.

Length of period of disqualification increases with multiple offenses.

Up to 9 months for BAC of .08 to .15; 12 months for BAC greater than .15.

 

Northern Territory

Fines are graduated according to BAC level and combined with license suspension and possible imprisonment. Range is from $500 to $1,000 ($314.50 to $629.00 US).

Length of license suspension for drivers who are under 18 or who have a learner or provisional license and a BAC level over .00 is a minimum 3 month license loss. Length of suspension is graduated for increasing BAC levels up to a 12 month minimum immediate suspension for a BAC of over .15.

Possible imprisonment terms ranging from 3 months to 12 months maximum, graduated by BAC level.

Fines follow a similar schedule as with first offense according to BAC level, but amounts and length of license suspension and imprisonment increases for multiple offenses. Range is from $750 to $2,000 ($471.75 to $1,258.00 US).

Length of suspension follows a similar schedule as with first offense, but length is increased for multiple offenses. Range is 6 month minimum to 5+ years.

Length of imprisonment follows a similar schedule as with first offence, but length is increased for multiple offenses Range is from 6 month minimum to 12 months maximum.

Repeat offenders with BAC of .08 to .15 may be sentenced to a 14 hour course for repeat offenders.

Refusing a blood test carries the same penalties as a BAC of over .15.

Queensland

$1050 ($660.45 US) maximum fine for drivers under 25 and drivers of specified vehicles for BAC level up to .05. Fines increase with BAC level up to a maximum of $2,100 ($1,320.90 US) for a BAC of over .15. (See detail.)

There is an automatic suspension of 24 hours for all BAC levels. Disqualification of license for 3 to 9 months depending on BAC level.

Possible 3 to 9 months imprisonment depending on BAC level.

Maximum $1,500 ($943.50 US) fine for BAC between .05 and .15. Fines increase with BAC level up to a maximum of $2,550 ($1,603.95 US) for BAC of over .15.

3 months to 2 years disqualification of license depending on BAC level and number of offenses.

6 to 18 months imprisonment depending on BAC level and number of offenses.

After numerous drink driving offenses, if can be made a condition of conviction to undergo a rehabilitation course conducted by the Queensland Corrective Services Commission.

South Australia

Fine for learners or probationary drivers with BAC over .00 is a maximum $1,000 ($629.00 US). Fines for other drivers range from $114 to $1,200 ($71.71 to $754.80 US) depending on BAC level and circumstances of adjudication.

Learners or probationary drivers with BAC over .00 receive 6 month disqualification. Other drivers can be disqualified for periods of 6 to 12 months depending on BAC level. Demerit points on the license are also given depending on BAC level. For BAC over .15 (DUI), 3 month maximum gaol

Range is $700 to $2,500 ( $440.70 to $1,572.50 US) depending on BAC level.

Range is 12 months to 3 years depending on BAC level.

For BAC over .15 (DUI), 6 month maximum gaol.

If convicted of 2 or more drink driving offenses within 3 years in the metropolitan area, then the court orders that the driver must be referred for Drink Driver Assessment.

Tasmania

Fines range from $200 to $3,000 ($125.80 to $1,887.00 US) depending on BAC level.

License suspension ranges from 3 to 36 months depending on BAC level.

Prison sentences range from 3 to 12 months depending on BAC level.

Fines range from $400 to $6,000 ( $251.60 to $3,774.00 US) depending on BAC level.

License suspension ranges from 6 to 72 months depending on BAC level.

Prison sentences range from 6 to 24 months depending on BAC level.

An offender considered to be alcohol dependent (I.e. very high BAC levels or multiple drink driving offenses) can be required to attend rehabilitation.

Victoria

$1,200 ($754.80 US) maximum fine.

For learners or probationary drivers with BAC over .00, disqualification of license for 6 months maximum, 1 month minimum with extension of probationary period for up to 7 months.

For other drivers with BAC over .05, length of disqualification begins at 6 months and increases with each point of increased BAC.

Police have power to suspend the license on the spot until the case is heard for BAC of .15 or greater.

For culpable DUI, up to 15 years gaol and/or $180,000 ($113,220.00 US) maximum fine plus 2 years minimum disqualification. For DUI liquor or drug, $2500 ($1,572.50 US) maximum fine or 3 months gaol plus 2 years minimum disqualification.

$2,500 ($1,572.50 US) maximum fine.

For all 2nd offenders, police have the power to suspend the license on the spot until the case is heard.

In March 1987, police were given the power to suspend the license on the spot until the case is heard, where a BAC is .15 or more. In June 1991, the power was extended to include all 2nd offenders.

Western Australia

Fines range from $100 to $800 ($69.90 to $503.20 US) depending on age and BAC level. $600 ($377.40 US) minimum fine for failure to provide a breath test.

For BAC greater than .08, a fine of $500 to $800 ($314.50 to $503.20 US) with a 3 month minimum license disqualification. For failure to provide breath test when requested, a minimum fine of $600 or 6 months suspension.

For BAC over .08, fines for multiple offenses range from $600 to $2,500 ($377.40 to $1,572.50 US) depending of the number of offenses.

Period of disqualification for multiple offenses ranges from 6 months to permanent disqualification depending onf the number of offenses.

For second offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, $1,000 to $1,800 ($629.00 to $1,132.20 US) fine or 6 months gaol with a 2 year minimum disqualification. For third offense, fine is $1,200 to $2,500 ($754.80 to $1,572.50 US) or 18 months gaol with permanent disqualification of license.

The penalties for traffic offenses in Western Australia have recently undergone a major review. Regulatory and legislative changes are currently being progressed. The drink driving penalties require legislative changes and are currently in the Western Australian Parliament.

Austria

Fines increase incrementally according to BAC level. Range of fines is from 3,000 ATS ($240.15 US) for a BAC level of .05 to 80,000 ATS ($6,403.93 US) for a BAC of .16 or greater.

For a BAC level of .08 to .12, the license is suspended for at least 4 weeks. The length of suspension increases with higher BAC levels. Involvement in an accident will also increase the length of the suspension.

If the driver causes an accident involving injuries, the court may order imprisonment. The length of sentence depends upon the seriousness of the injury.

For multiple offenses the amount of the fine is increased. The amount of the increase depends on the seriousness of the offense.

For a BAC of .05 to .08, license is suspended only after repeated offenses. On the second offense, the license is suspended for 3 weeks; after the third offense in one year, the suspension is not less than 4 weeks. For repeated offenses and accident involvement the periods may be considerably longer, depending on the case and the responsible authority.

Novice drivers (during their first two years) have to undergo a compulsory additional course. Community service can be imposed after accidents instead of imprisonment (mainly for younger drivers). For BAC level of .12 to .16 a psychological driver-improvement course for drunk drivers is required. For BAC level over .16 an additional driving test (both medical and psychological) is conducted.

The costs of driver-improvement must be paid from the driver (between 6,600 and 7,400 ATS [$528.32 to $592.36 US])

If the driver refuses a breath-check for alcohol or blood-test a .16 BAC is assumed with all its legal consequences: fine, license suspension after immediate taking off the license on position, additional psychological course for drunk drivers and an additional driving-test (medical and psychological) - established in law since 1997.

Belgium

For .05 to .08 BAC (.22 to .35 mg/l)a minimum fine of 5,000 BEF ($136.53 US); for greater than .08 BAC (.35mg/l) a minimum fine of 400,000 BEF ($10,922.20 US).

Immediate withdrawal of the license is possible; forfeiture with ticket of penalty.

Possible imprisonment for 15 days to 6 months.

For the second offense within 3 years, 80,000 to 1,000,000 BEF ($2,184.44 to $27,305.47 US) (fine is doubled for subsequent offense within 3 years.)

Immediate withdrawal of license for 15 days plus possible additional 15 days after judicial decision. Forfeiture for eight days to 5 years for repeat offense within three years.

Possible imprisonment for 1 month to 2 years (penalty is doubled for third offense within three years).

Community service is possible.

Brazil

Information not available

Canada

Set by provincial law.

   

Alberta

For a BAC greater than .05, a 24 hour roadside suspension may be given along with a warning. For Criminal Code offenses, 1 year suspension for the first offense.

For the second Criminal Code offense, 3 year suspension of license; for the third offense, 5 year suspension. These may be reduced according to circumstances and with the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Term of license suspension may be shortened with the installation of an ignition interlock device costing $125 ($82.79 US) for installation, and $95 ($62.92 US) per month for service.

Administrative sanctions are under review. Vehicle may be impounded for 30 days for driving with a suspended license.

British Columbia

A 24-hour roadside suspension may be given for BAC greater than .05. Administrative suspension of license for 90 days may be imposed for a BAC over .08. For Criminal Code offenses, license is suspended for 1 year for the first offense.

For second Criminal Code offense within 10 years, a 3 year suspension of license. Third time offenders may receive an indefinite suspension of license.

Vehicle impoundment for 30 days for driving with a suspended license; 60 days for multiple offenders. Use of ignition interlock devices also under review.

Manitoba

A 6-hour roadside suspension can be issued for BAC greater than .05. An administrative suspension of 3 months may be imposed for a BAC greater than .08 or for refusal to allow a test. For Criminal Code offenses, 1 year suspension for first offense (this can be reduced.)

For second Criminal Code violation within 5 years, 1 year suspension (this may be reduced.) For the third violation, a suspension of 3 years (this can be reduced).

Assessment and treatment required for repeat offenders in order to regain the driverís license.

Under review: extended the roadside suspension to 12 hours for a BAC over .05. Vehicle impoundment for 30 days for driving with a suspended license; 60 days for multiple offenders.

New Brunswick

Fines for an offense under the graduated license (.00 to .08) range from a minimum of $84.00 to a maximum of $1,200 ($55.63 to $794.75 US). For Criminal Code offenses of impaired or refusal, minimum fine is $300 ($198.69 US).

Six months suspension of license for BAC over .08 on first offense. New drivers caught with BAC between .00 and .08 have an automatic one year suspension and are required to recommence the graduated licensing program. For Criminal Code offenses of impaired or refusal, a 3 month court prohibition is concurrent with a 6 month Motor Vehicle Act suspension.

Imprisonment is not usual on first offense.

For BAC over .08, 1 year suspension for subsequent offenses.

For Criminal Code offenses of impaired or refusal, from 6 months to 1 year.

For Criminal Code offenses of impaired or refusal, 14 days for second offense; 90 days for third.

Assessment and treatment required for repeat offenders in order to regain the driverís license.

Roadside suspensions can be enacted at all levels between .05 and .08 and are for a period of 24 hours.

Newfoundland

For Criminal Code offenses, 1 year suspension for first offense. A 24-hour roadside suspension is possible for a BAC greater than .05.

For Criminal Code offenses, 2 year suspension for second offense in 5 years; 3 year suspension for third offense in 5 years.

Administrative suspensions for multiple roadside suspensions within 2 years:

Third suspension: 2 month suspension and DWI education;

Fourth suspension: 4 month suspension and DWI education.

Five or more: 6 month suspension and assessment and treatment.

Assessment and treatment required for repeat offenders in order to regain the driverís license.

License plates can be invalidated for driving with a suspended license.

Northwest Territories

A roadside suspension of 4 to 24 hours is possible with the presence of alcohol. The BAC level is not specified. For first offense under the Criminal Code, license is suspended for 3 months.

For the second Criminal Code offense within 5 years, the license is suspended for 6 months; for the third offense, it is suspended for 1 year.

 

Nova Scotia

For Criminal Code offenses, 1 year suspension for first offense.

For Criminal Code offenses, for second offense within 5 years, a 2 year suspension of license; for third offense, a 5 year suspension (this may be reduced.)

Assessment and treatment required for repeat offenders in order to regain the driverís license.

License plate invalidated for driving with a suspended license.

Ontario

Fines may range from $300 to $2,000 ($198.69 to $1,324.50 US) provided the offense did not cause bodily harm or injury. For new drivers with BAC over .00, usually a $90 ($59.61 US) fine.

A 12-hour roadside suspension is possible for a BAC over .05. Administrative suspension of license of 90 days possible for BAC over .08 or refusal to be tested. For Criminal Code offenses, 1 year suspension of license. For new drivers with BAC over .00, penalty is a 30 day suspension and $90 ($59.61 US) fine.

Imprisonment is not usual on first offense.

Fines may range from $300 to $2,000 ($198.69 to $1,324.59 US) provided the offense did not cause bodily harm or injury.

For a second Criminal Code offense within 10 years (under the new legislation), license is suspended for 3 years. For a third conviction, offenders are subject to a lifetime suspension that may be reduced to 10 years upon successful completion of remedial training and installation of a vehicle interlock device. For fourth conviction, offender will be suspended for life with no possibility of reinstatement.

Driver convicted of a second offense may be sentenced to a minimum of 14 days. Jail term for third offense is a minimum of 90 days.

On September 30, 1998, Ontario introduced new measures aimed at drivers who commit Criminal Code offenses. Upon conviction, offenders will be subject to mandatory remedial measures programs; longer suspension periods, including life suspensions, and a longer search period for previous Criminal Code convictions. The search period will gradually be extended to a minimum of 10 years, increased from 5 years. On November 29, 2996, the Ministry of Transportation introduced the Administrative Driverís License Suspension (ADLS) program to help reduce impaired driving in the province. A motorist who blows over the legal limit of .08 or who refuses an alcohol breath test will have his or her driverís license immediately suspended for 90 days. This suspension is independent from any court proceeding and is applied to the driver regardless of the number of previous offenses. If the driver does not blow over the legal limit but there is a presence of alcohol, a police officer may issue a 12-hour license suspension.

Prince Edward Island

Fines are not established by law, but are at the judgeís discretion. For drivers under 19 with BAC greater than .01, fine of $500 ($331.15 US).

A 24-hour roadside suspension may be imposed for BAC over .05. Effective May 1997, a 90 day administrative suspension may be imposed. For drivers under 19 with a BAC greater than .01, a 3 month suspension plus a fine. For Criminal Code offenses, license suspension for first offense is 1 year.

For drivers under 19 with a BAC greater than .01, a 6 month suspension. For Criminal Code offenses, for second offense within 5 years, a 2 year license suspension; for the third offense within 5 years a suspension of 3 years (this can be reduced.)

Assessment and treatment required for repeat offenders in order to regain the driverís license.

Vehicle impoundment for driving with a suspended license.

Quebec

Administrative suspension of 2 weeks for first offense with BAC greater than .08. For Criminal Code offenses, license suspension of 1 year for first offense (may be reduced.) For new drivers with BAC greater than .00, penalty is an on the spot suspension of 15 days and 3 months suspension upon conviction.

Administrative suspension of 1 month for BAC greater than .08 on second offense. For Criminal Code offenses, license suspension of 2 years for second offense within 5 years; 3 years for third offense.

Assessment and treatment required for repeat offenders in order to regain the driverís license.

Effective December 1, 1997, vehicle impoundment for 30 days for driving with a suspended license.

Saskatchewan

240-hour roadside suspension is possible for BAC greater than .04. For Criminal Code offenses, a 1 year license suspension for the first offense (may be reduced.)

90 day administrative suspension for third offense plus assessment and treatment. For second Criminal Code offense within 5 years, a 3 year suspension of license (may be reduced); a 5 year suspension for the third offense (may be reduced.)

For second offense of BAC greater than .04, the driver may be required to take a DWI course. For the third offense of BAC over .04, the driver must undergo assessment and treatment.

.

Yukon

A 24-hour roadside suspension is possible for BAC greater than .08. Administrative suspension of license is also possible. For Criminal Code offenses, first offenders receive a 1 year suspension of license.

For second Criminal Code offense within 5 years, a 3 year suspension of license. Third time offenders receive a lifetime suspension of license.

Under review: vehicle impoundment for driving with a suspended license; 30 days for first offense, 60 days for 2nd offense, confiscation for 3rd offense.

Czech Republic

Information not available

Denmark

For BAC level between.05 and .08, fines are imposed. Actual praxis DKK 4000 ($592.98 US). Fines are imposed for higher BAC levels in combination with license suspension. The amount of the fine depends on the character of the infringement.

For BAC level between .08 and .12, conditional disqualification of driverís license. For BAC level over .12, unconditional disqualification of driverís license for a period of at least 1 year. For BAC level over .20, unconditional disqualification of driverís license for a period not less than 2 1/2 years.

For BAC level over .20, detention or imprisonment for not less than 14 days.

Second offense, without aggravating circumstances: For BAC level between .08 and .15, Fine of DKK 500 ($74.12 US) with conditional disqualification of license.

Second offense, without aggravating circumstances: For BAC level between .08 and .15, conditional disqualification of driverís license in addition to fine. For BAC level between.15 and .20, unconditional disqualification of driverís license for a period of 5 years and detention or imprisonment of 14 days. For BAC level over .20, unconditional disqualification of driverís license for a period of 5 years and detention or imprisonment of not less than 20 days.

Fines, detention and imprisonment, and the period of disqualification of driverís license may be increased if there are aggravating circumstances such as: the driver has been disqualified earlier from driving, or has, through gross disregard of road safety, caused personal injury or damage to property or exposed persons or property to such injury or damages.

Finland

The amount of fine is tied to BAC level and also to income level. Minimum fine for BAC of .05 to .075 is 30-40 days (1 day fine is equal to 1/90 monthly salary.) Fines increase with BAC level and are also combined with license suspension and possible imprisonment.

Suspension of license occurs on the first offense for a BAC level of .10 or greater. The length of the suspension is tied to BAC level.

For a BAC level of .12 to .149, a possible 20-50 days imprisonment in addition to fine and license suspension. Sentence may be conditional according to the circumstances. Length of imprisonment increases with BAC level.

Sanctions are not affected by multiple offenses unless there are several within a short time.

Community service is a possible sanction.

France

For BAC level between .05 and .08, a fine of FF 900 $151.13 US) (FF 600 [$100.75 US] if paid within the week) combined with 3 points on the driverís license.

For a BAC greater than .08, administrative rates for the length of suspension are graduated depending on BAC level. The courts may impose a length of suspension ranging from the lower level of the administrative rate up to revocation depending on the circumstances (accident, injuries, fatalitites).

For BAC greater than .08, a sentence of 8 days to 1 year imprisonment may be imposed depending on the circumstances.

The same graduated scale as for the first offense, but higher amounts in the case of recidivism.

Multiple offenses incur an automatic suspension of license for a periods of 1 to 3 years before being allowed to apply for a new license.

Length of prison sentences follows the same scale as for first offense, but may be longer for recidivists.

Community service may be an alternative to a fine or jail, proposed by the judge. A fine per day, for example a fine of FF 500/day ($83.96 US), could be paid in lieu of jail time.

Mandatory medical treatment may be required.

Germany

A person with a BAC level between .03 and .079 may be deemed incapable of driving if there is additional evidence that alcohol is present (e.g. swerving while driving, ignoring red traffic lights, walking unsteadily.) A driver with a BAC between .08 and .109 commits a regulatory offense under the Road Traffic Act. A BAC level between .05 and .079 also constitutes a regulatory offense, but carries a less severe penalty. A person with a BAC level of .11 is deemed completely incapable of driving and commits a criminal offense.

Suspension of driverís license is obligatory in the case of a criminal offense; otherwise driving is prohibited for several months (individually determined by the authorities depending on BAC and other legal offenses.

Maximum 5 years imprisonment in the case of a criminal offense or an equivalent financial penalty.

   

Greece

Information not available

Ireland

Information not available

Italy

Article 186 of the Italian Road User Code states that all drivers driving under the influence of alcohol shall be arrested for a period of up to a maximum of 1 month and shall be subject to a fine varying from 500,000 to 2,000,000 ($284.44 to $1,137.75 US) Italian lire, unless other more serious crimes are involved. The arrest is accompanied by an accessory measure consisting of the withdrawal of the driving license for a period varying from 15 days to 3 months, or from 1 to 6 months, if the same driver is guilty of more offenses during 1 year.

Withdrawal of driverís license from 1 to 6 months, if the same driver is guilty of more offenses during 1 year.

 

Japan

Information not available

Luxembourg

Information not available

Netherlands

For first offenders not involved in a traffic accident, fines are graduated according to BAC level. Fines range from a minimum of f390 for BAC of 54-80 mg/100 ml to 2,200 for BAC of 211-250 mg/100 ml ($194.94 to $1,099.65 US).

Suspension of license for BAC level greater than 131 mg/100 ml. Length of suspension increases with BAC level.

2 week imprisonment may be given for BAC over 211 mg/100 ml. Motorists refusing to take evidential breath test incur a penalty equal to that given for BAC level of 211-250 mg/100 ml.

Against repeat offenders and offenders involved in accidents, a penalty is requested belonging to a BAC category which is one or two categories higher than the actual BAC category.

First offenders with a BAC level between .13 and .21 are obliged to follow a 3-day course at their own expense. If they were involved in a road accident, they are not allowed to follow the course, but must undergo a medical examination in order to establish their driving ability. First offenders with a BAC level greater than .21 also must undergo a medical examination.

Recidivists with a BAC level between .08 and .21 promille are obliged to follow a 3-day course at their own expense. If they were involved in a road accident, they are not allowed to follow the course, but must undergo a medical examination in order to establish their driving ability. Multiple recidivists must also undergo a medical examination.

The police are allowed to impose a temporary driving ban on drivers suspected of being under the influence (as a result of the preliminary breath test or otherwise).

Separate penalty guidelines exist for alcohol-impaired cyclists and moped riders, the requested penalties being less severe than for motorists.

New Zealand

For standard drink-drive offence (exceeding .08 percent limit) a fine of up to and including $4,500 ($2,521.00 US). For under 20 year olds exceeding the .03 percent limit, a fine of up to and including $2,250 ($1,210.50 US).

For exceeding the .08 limit, a mandatory disqualification of license of least 6 months. Courts may impose longer as they see fit. For under 20 year olds exceeding .03, a mandatory disqualification of at least 3 months. If the disqualification is less than 6 months, 50 demerit points are applied to their record. The Court may impose a longer period.

For exceeding the .08 limit, the law allows a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 months imposed at the discretion of the Court. For under 20 year olds exceeding the .03 limit, the law allows a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 months imposed at the discretion of the Court.

A new law which will take effect May 1, 1999 allows the Court to impose more severe penalties for the 3rd offense. 3rd offense fine is up to $6,000 ($3,228.00 US).

For 3rd offense, a mandatory disqualification of license of at least 1 year. The Courts may imposed a longer time period.

For 3rd offense, a term of imprisonment of up to and including 2 years may be imposed at the discretion of the Court.

A community-based sentence may be substituted for the fine or imprisonment at the discretion of the Court.

If a driver is convicted of any one of a range of serious traffic offenses (including drink-drive) and then, within a 4 year period, commits another offense on the specified list, the law contains a presumption in favour of confiscation of the vehicle the offender was driving at the time of the offense. Confiscation can only be ordered if the offender is the owner of the vehicle or has financial interest in it. Seizure costs, outstanding fines and any other monies owed on the vehicle are removed from the proceeds of the sale before the remainder (if any) is returned to the owner. The owner may be forbidden to own a vehicle for up to a year. Any vehicle purchased in defiance of this order may be liable for confiscation also.

Parliament has recently passed a law to allow road-side license suspension to be applied administratively by the police to grossly intoxicated drivers and those who drive at excessive speeds. A further law recently passed by Parliament which will take effect next year allows the police to immediately impound a vehicle for 12 hours with a possible extension of up to 24 hours on the grounds of public safety.

Norway

Disqualification of the driving license is a possibility for all BAC levels above .05.

   

Portugal

Fines are graduated according to BAC level ranging from ESC 20,000 for BAC between .05 and .08 and ESC 200,000 for BAC between .08 and .12 ($109.89 to $1,098.85 US). Fines are combined with license suspension.

Length of suspension is graduated according to BAC level ranging from one month to two years.

Drivers with BAC of over .12 commit a crime punishable under the Code of Criminal Procedure with up to one yearís imprisonment or with a fine plus up to 120 daysí imprisonment.

 

Offenders who pay the fine voluntarily always pay the minimum amount and receive the minimum additional penalty. If the fine is not paid volunarily by the time limit laid down by law, the amount payable and the duration of the associated ban on driving may be increased up to the maximum laid down, taking into account the circumstances of the offense, the BAC level and the offenderís past record.

Russia

Information not available

Spain

Fine of 50,000 to 100,000 pesetas ($331.00 to $662.00 US);

License suspension of 3 months on first offense.

200 to 50,000 pesetas/day ($1.32 to $331.00 US);

License suspension for 1-4 years;

Imprisonment only if the driver does pay the fine.

 

Sweden

For first offense with no aggravating circumstances, fines are imposed. For a BAC level between .02 and .10, the amount of the fine is determined by income level as well as BAC level and the circumstances.

For BAC level between .03 and .10, licenses may be revoked for 2 to 12 months depending on the circumstances and the BAC level. Above .10, a minimum 12 months and a maximum 36 months loss of license.

If BAC level is greater than .10, imprisonment for 1 to 2 months. A drunk driver who causes an accident involving a fatality can be imprisoned up to 6 years.

Fines are usually not applicable for repeat offenders. Heavy fines if applied.

License suspension for repeat offenders: Below .10 BAC, close to 12 months; and above .10, well above 12 months.

The driver may be imprisoned in a facility designed especially for drunken drivers, and may be required to undergo a treatment program for alcohol dependency. Recently, more and more drunk drivers are given formal prison sentences but serve them at home under electronic surveillance.

Switzerland

Information not available

United Kingdom

Fine of up to 5,000 pounds ($8,005.00 US). The average is 300 pounds ($480.30 US).

Suspension of license is possible, though rare for first offense.

Imprisonment for up to 6 months is possible, though rare for first offense.

Fines are the same as for first offense: up to 5,000 pounds; average is 300 pounds.

3 years minimum license suspension if there has been a previous drink/drive offence within 10 years of the latest.

Possible imprisonment for up to 6 months.

Vehicle forfeiture is possible for repeat offenders, though rarely used.

The UK has a scheme for medical screening of high risk offenders, those whose blood alcohol is over .20 or who have been convicted two or more times within 10 years, or who have refused to provide a specimen. If the screening shows an alcohol problem, a license can be refused, or restricted for a short period, on medical grounds.

United States

Varies from State to State. All include fines and license penalties. Some include jail or other penalties such as vehicle impoundment or community service.

Varies from State to State. Increases in severity over first offense.

Penalties usually based on number of offenses, not on arrest BAC.

As can be seen in Table 3, rehabilitation programs are available in many countries, but required in fewer. Often, they are subject to the judgeís discretion. Here again, the arrest BAC is often the deciding factor in whether a rehabilitation program will be required and what the nature of that program will be. This is in contrast with the United States, in which most if not all states require a rehabilitation program, usually of a standard nature depending on the number of offenses. Most states do not base the nature of the program on arrest BAC, although some states require an assessment and assign offenders to a program based on the findings of the assessment.

Licenses in many countries are not regranted automatically upon completion of the suspension or revocation period. Several countries require some sort of judicial or medical certification under some circumstances before the offender may receive the driving license. Some countries require that the offender retake the driving test. The requirements for relicensing are often determined by the BAC at arrest.

Table 3: Rehabilitation and Regranting of Licenses

Country

Rehabilitation Programs

System for Regranting Licenses

Australia

   

Australian Capitol Territory

No legislation, but court may order attendance at course

Not known

New South Wales

Information not available

Any driver convicted of a drink driving offence and over .15 range must undergo medical assessment and receive positive results before re-issue of license.

Northern Territory

No legislation requiring rehabilitation, but registrar of motor vehicles may impose conditions on return of license

No legislation requiring rehabilitation, but registrar of motor vehicles may impose conditions on return of license

Queensland

After numerous drink driving offenses, if can be made a condition of conviction to undergo a rehabilitation course conducted by the Queensland Corrective Services Commission.

Not known

South Australia

If convicted of 2 or more drink driving offenses within 3 years in the metropolitan area, then the court orders that the driver must be referred for Drink Driver Assessment.

Not known

Tasmania

An offender considered to be alcohol dependent (I.e. very high BAC levels or multiple drink driving offenses) can be required to attend rehabilitation.

Currently (as of November 1997) considering a range of options as standard condition for reissue of license following disqualification

Victoria

Rehabilitation requirements as a precondition of relicensing exist for multiple categories of convicted dring drivers. Exact requirements depend on age, license category, BAC range of the offender.

Full license holders who are convicted or found guilty of a drink driving offence and are re-licensed after obtaining a court order are restricted to a .00 BAC for 3 years (Z condition license.)

Western Australia

No requirement for rehabilitation program

Not known

Austria

For a BAC level of .12 to .16, a psychological driver-improvement course is required. Novice drivers must attend the psychological course for drunk drivers in any case of driving under the influence of alcohol (more than .01 BAC). In case of serious traffic offenses they must attend a psychological course for conspicuous drivers. The courses are established in law. If the driver refuses to attend the course he or she will loose the driving license.

After the suspension, period the driving license has to be regranting on request if all additional required courses or tests have been accomplished and the duration of suspension was not more than 18 month and no further reasons for suspension exist.

Belgium

Rehabilitation programs may be required at the judgeís discretion.

The driverís license is restored when the forfeiture ends if the holder passes the examination which may be imposed by the judge.

Brazil

Information not available

Canada

   

Alberta

First offenders must take an alcohol information course (fee $90 [$56.60 US]). Second and third offenders must undergo a more intensive alcohol awareness education course (fee $190 [$125.84 US]).

Alcohol education course plus reinstatement fee of $140 ($92.72 US)

British Columbia

Not known

Reinstatement fee of $100 ($66.23 US)

Manitoba

For all Criminal Code convictions, offender must undergo assessment and treatment (fee $270 [$178.82 US]).

Driver must undergo assessment and treatment (fee $270 [$178.82 US]) and pay a reinstatement fee of $40 ($26.49 US).

New Brunswick

First offenders must take a DWI education course. Second and third offenders must take a more intensive DWI course.

Drivers must attend a DWI education course and pay a reinstatement fee of $200 ($132.46 US) for first offenders, and $412 ($272.87 US) for second and third offenders.

Newfoundland

For multiple 24-hour roadside suspensions, driver may be required to complete DWI education. If suspended five or more times within 2 years, driver is required to undergo assessment and treatment. For Criminal Code convictions, a DWI course is required on the first offense (fee $100 [$66.23 US]); assessment and treatment is required for the second and third offenses.

Drivers must attend a DWI education course, or undergo assessment and treatment, depending on the circumstances, and pay a reinstatement fee of $100 ($66.23 US).

Northwest Territories

Not required

Not known

Nova Scotia

On the first conviction, a DWI education course is required (fee $120 [$79.48 US]) . On the second and third convictions, the offender must undergo assessment and treatment (fee $300 [$198.69 US]).

DWI education course or assessment and treatment, depending on the circumstances, plus a reinstatement fee of $100 ($66.23 US)

Ontario

First offenders must take a DWI education course. Second and third offenders must undergo assessment and treatment.

DWI education course or assessment and treatment, depending on the circumstances, plus a reinstatement fee of $100 ($66.23 US)

Prince Edward Island

On the first conviction, a DWI education course is required. On the second and third convictions, the offender must undergo assessment and treatment.

DWI education course or assessment and treatment, depending on the circumstances, plus a reinstatement fee of $200 ($132.46 US)

Quebec

First offenders must take a DWI education course. Second and third offenders must undergo assessment and treatment.

DWI education course or assessment and treatment, depending on the circumstances, plus a reinstatement fee of $300 ($198.69 US)

Saskatchewan

For all Criminal Code convictions, offender must undergo assessment and treatment and pay a DWI education course fee of $150 ($99.34 US).

Not known

Yukon

First offenders must attend an education course (fee $35 [$23.18 US]). With second conviction, the offender receives an indefinite suspension and must apply to Driver Control Board (DBC) for reinstatement.

First offenders must attend an educatio course. With second conviction, the offender receives an indefinite suspension and must apply to the DCB for reinstatement. With the third conviction, the offender must attend a 35 hour education course and apply to the DCB for reinstatement.

Czech Republic

Information not available

Denmark

Offered but not required.

The person must pass a driving test, both a theoretical and a practical test. In some cases, it is possible for the driver to get the license back after half of the period, if he or she has followed a special treatment, but he or she still has to pass the test.

Finland

 

Finnish licensing and relicensing practice, including systemative evaluation of an alcohol or drug problem and rehabiliation when needed, is in preparation.

France

Not required, but often decided by the judge. It is not a rehabilitation program, but a medical commission responsible for regranting of driving license. Medical assessments are made for drivers involved in alcohol related accidents or positive BAC over .08.

Evaluation by the medical commission is made in the case of alcohol-related suspension of driverís license or revocation of the driving license. Regranting of license has the following steps:

1. Medical examination by a medical commission before regranting.

2. Probationary period of one year, followed by a further examination by the medical commission.

3. Another probationary period if necessary (decided by the medical commission.)

Germany

Requiring rehabilitation programs depends on the severity of the offence. If the BAC at the first offense was .16 or higher, a medical-psychological investigation is obligatory for regranting the driving license. In some cases, participation in a rehabilitation program is recommended as a result of this investigation.

If the BAC was below .16, the driving license can be regranted on request after an individually determined period of time. If the BAC at the first offense was .16 or higher, a medical-psychological investigation is obligatory for regranting the driving license.

Greece

Information not available

Ireland

Information not available

Italy

Information not available

Japan

Information not available

Luxembourg

Such programs do not exist yet. However, it is planned to introduce rehabilitation programs in the context of the planned point system to be attached to the driverís license.

No general process exists, but regranting of driversí licenses might be submitted to a new test, theoretical and/or practical.

Netherlands

Several ongoing driver training courses are offered on a voluntary basis, including a general refresher course, economical driving, environmentally friendly driving, skid courses, and defensive driving. First offenders with a BAC level between .13 and .21 are obliged to follow a 3-day course at their own expense. If they were involved in a road accident, they are not allowed to follow the course, but must undergo a medical examination in order to establish their driving ability.

If an offender takes the 3-day rehabilitation course, he or she can get the license back. If disqualified from taking the course (by BAC level or involvement in an accident) the person must undergo a medical examination.

New Zealand

Drivers who obtain two or more drink-drive convictions in 5 years are disqualified indefinitely from holding or obtaining a driver license and order by the Courts to attend an approved alcohol/drug assessment center. This order is mandatory if the qualifying offense criteria are met. While the disqualification is indefinite, the offender can apply to the Director of Land Transport Safety after 2 years to have the indefinite disqualification removed. The indefinite disqualification will not be removed until the offender attends the assessment center and is able to provide a satisfactory assessment report. This section of the legislation is currently under review as it has some problems especially with regard to significant numbers of offender who never attend the assessment center and remain disqualified although may continue to drive.

If the disqualification or suspension is a year or less, the driver can apply for a replacement license and resume driving immediately when the suspension or disqualification has ended. If the person has been continuously disqualified for more than one year, they will be required to resit and pass all the driver licensing tests before being allowed to drive again.

Norway

Ongoing training is offered, namely driving at night. It is only compulsory if it has not been completed before the issue of the license.

Not known.

Portugal

Information not available

Russia

Information not available

Spain

Aspects are under study, but at present are not carried out.

Not known.

Sweden

In practice, in order to be able to get a medical certificate (see notes on regranting of license), a problem drinker must attend a rehabilitation program.

If license is suspended for less than 12 months, the offenderís license is reinstated automatically after the stipulated period of time but if suspended for more than 12 months, licensing tests must be taken again. To be relicensed after conviction of gross drunken driving, the driver must get a medical certificate to prove he or she is not dependent on alcohol or other drugs. This certification involves several checkups and liver enzyme testing. The license is conditional for 24 months.

Switzerland

Information not available

United Kingdom

Since 1993, the UK has made experimental use of rehabilitation courses for drink-drive offenders. They are available in certain areas only and if the court orders the offender to attend the course. Disqualification is reduced by 25%. The scheme may become permanent and nationwide in 2000 subject to a Parliamentary approval.

They must apply and pay a fee. If they are repeat offenders or had blood alcohol of 200 mg/100 ml (2.0 g/l) they must also provide medical evidence that they are not physically invalid to drive through alcohol dependency. Courts may order a driving test, but this is rare.

United States

Required in most States. Characteristics of programs vary.

Usually automatically eligible for reenstatement after period of suspension ends.

Drivers Licensing Laws

The laws and rules regarding the licensing of drivers can be important as they relate to the type of person permitted to drive as well as possible sanctions that can be imposed against the driving license. In particular, because of the special vulnerability of young and novice drivers, the minimum age of licensure is important. As can be seen in Table 4, this age ranges from a low of 15 in New Zealand to the much more common 18 in Australia and most European countries.

Of particular importance in this regard is the application of a system of provisional or graduated licensing in which the driving privileges of young and novice drivers are granted gradually, thus providing the opportunity for the new driver to practice skills in relatively safe conditions before moving on to more challenging situations (e.g., driving at night or with several passengers). These graduated licensing schemes often provide a simple administrative system of penalties that can be applied to the novice driver if violations occur before the full license is granted. Graduated licensing systems have been found to be effective in reducing crashes among novice drivers (National Transportation Safety Board 1993).

As shown in Table 4, several of the countries studied report having some form of provisional or graduated licensing system. Table 5 shows the principal features of each system. Most of these systems have fairly limited provisions, with Austria and New Zealand having more extensive and elaborate systems.

 

Table 4: Minimum Age for Driving Licensure and Provision
for Graduated Licensing

Country

Minimum Licensing Age

Graduated Licensing

Australia

18 (all States)

Yes (all States)

Austria

17

Yes

Belgium

18

No

Brazil

18, 21 for commercial or heavy vehicles

No

Canada

Set by provincial law

10 of 12 provinces

Alberta

16

Yes

British Columbia

16

Yes

Manitoba

16

Yes

New Brunswick

18 (16, instructional permit with parental consent)

Yes

Newfoundland

17 (16 for learnerís stage)

Yes

Northwest Territories

16

No

Nova Scotia

16

Yes

Ontario

16

Yes

Prince Edward Island

16

Yes

Quebec

16

Yes

Saskatchewan

16 (15 for learnerís permit if enrolled in course)

Yes

Yukon

16

No

Czech Republic

Information not available

 

Denmark

18

No

Finland

18

No

France

18

Yes

Germany

18

No

Greece

Information not available

 

Ireland

Information not available

 

Italy

18

No

Japan

Information not available

 

Luxembourg

18

Yes

Netherlands

18

No

New Zealand

15

Yes

Norway

18

Yes

Portugal

18

Yes

Russia

18

No

Spain

18

No

Sweden

18

Yes

Switzerland

18

No

United Kingdom

17

No

United States

Ranges from 14 to 17

18 States have some sort of graduated licensing system.

6 States have some elements of a graduated licensing system.

Table 5: Descriptions of Graduated Licensing Systems

Country

Graduated Licensing Program Description

Australia

All 8 States have graduated licensing programs. Details of programs are set by State law, however, the following characteristics are typical:

  • The program applies to all new drivers regardless of age.
  • Young drivers may receive a learnerís permit at age 16. The permit must be held for at least 12 months before progressing to the probationary stage (but the applicant must be at least 18 years old to receive a probationary license).
  • The probationary phase lasts 3 years. Probationary licensees are limited to a lower BAC (see table 1) and to lower speeds. They must display a special license plate.

Austria

It is possible to start with the theoretical and practical education at the age of 16, if you apply for an advanced driving license. A probational license is issued for a period of two years, after which it is automatically converted to a permanent license. Holders of a probational license are limited to a maximum of .01 BAC and must continue training if they demonstrate poor behaviour. It is not possible to shorten the probationary period, but authorities may prolong it for various reasons including alcohol-related offenses. The probationary period can be extended for 1 year, up to 3 times. If the driver commits an offense after the third extension, the license can be withdrawn. (See detail)

Belgium

Not applicable

Brazil

Information not available

Canada

All but two provinces, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, have graduated licensing programs. Details of programs set by provincial law.

Alberta

The learnerís permit has no minimum length. During this period, the candidate must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver. After passing a road test, the candidate receives a probationary license which lasts for 24 months. This becomes a full license if there are no convictions, demerit points, or "at fault" collisions within the 24 months probationary period.

British Columbia

Must be in Learnerís Stage for 6 months (or 3 months with course) and be accompanied by a fully licensed driver. A "LEARNER" sign must be displayed. A maximum of two passengers are allowed, one of which must be a fully licensed driver. Driving permitted from 5 am to midnight only. The learner must pass a level 1 road test to pass to the next stage. The Intermediate Stage lasts for 18 months. A ĎNOVICE" sign must be displayed on the vehicle. The novice must pass an advanced road test to become fully licensed. BAC limit for both stages is .00.

Manitoba

Candidate may obtain a learnerís permit at age 15Ĺ if enrolled in a high school driver education course. Learnerís permit must be held for 2 weeks minimum. Probationary license is not restricted. However, a maximum suspension of 1 year may be imposed if convicted of a moving violation. The probationary period will be extended for one year after the suspension expires. Candidate is fully licensed after 12 months probationary period with no convictions or at-fault accidents.

New Brunswick

Graduated licensing program effective January 1, 1996. In Stage 1, the candidate must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver and no other passengers. After 12 months (or 4 months with approved course) the candidate may take a government road test to proceed to Stage 2. To exit Stage 2, it must be at least 24 month since the issue of the Stage 1 license, and the candidate must have been in Stage 2 for a minimum of 12 months. The BAC limit for both stages is .00. (See detail.)

Newfoundland

Effective January 1999. The Learnerís Stage extends for 12 months, but may be reduced to 8 months if driver education programs are completed. Learner must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver with a minimum 4 years experience. No passengers are permitted and no driving between midnight and 5 am. After successful completion of the road test, candidate must remain in the Newly Licensed Driver Stage for 12 months and have no suspensions. Restrictions in this stage include no driving between midnight and 5 am unless accompanied by a fully licensed driver. (See details.)

Northwest Territories

Graduated licensing program not presently in place but is being considered.

Nova Scotia

The Learnerís Stage is for 3 months with an approved course or 6 months without an approved course. Learner must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver and no other passengers. Must pass a government road test to proceed to the Newly Licensed Stage. In this stage, the newly licensed driver may not drive between midnight and 5 am unless accompanied by a fully licensed driver. The number of passengers is limited to the number of available seatbelts. To exit this stage, the candidate must have been in the Newly Licensed stage for 24 months and must attend a 6 hour defensive driving course. BAC limit of .00 for candidate and for co-driver.

Ontario

Stage G1 lasts for 8 months with approved training and for 12 months without training. Co-driver must be fully licensed for a minimum of 4 years. Both co-driver and G1 driver have a .05 BAC limit. G1 driver may do no freeway driving unless accompanied by an instructor. Only one passenger in front, and the number of rear-seat passengers cannot exceed the number of available seatbelts. G1 drivers may not drive between midnight and 5 am. Candidates must pass the G1 test to pass to the G2 Stage. In this stage, the driver may operate passenger cars only and all passengers must wear seat belts. After 24 months in G2, the driver must pass a vigorous G2 test to become fully licensed.

Prince Edward Island

Candidate may apply for a learnerís permit at age 15Ĺ if enrolled in a novice driver course. The Learnerís Stage is for 12 months. Th driver must be accompanied by a fully licensed co-driver and must complete a novice driver or driverís education course 90 days prior to the road test. The Newly Licensed State extends for 24 months. Candidates must be free of driving convictions. BAC limit of .00 in both stages.

Quebec

Learnerís Stage lasts for 8 to 12 months and driver must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver. In the Probationary Stage, driver has a .00 BAC limit and the license may be suspended after 4 demerit points (15 for fully licensed drivers). Candidate can become fully licensed after 24 months in the probationary stage or at age 25 (providing there are less than 4 demerit points.)

Saskatchewan

Candidate must have a learnerís permit for a minimum of 6 months. Learnerís permit can be obtained at age 15 if enrolled in a high school driver education course. The probationary license period lasts for 24 months but may be extended 12 months if the candidate has accumulated demerit points and is required to attend a driver interview. BAC limit of .04.

Yukon

Graduated licensing program not presently in place but is being considered.

Czech Republic

Information not available

Denmark

Not applicable

Finland

Not applicable

France

At age 16, the driver can begin training with an adult ("conduite accompagnee.") The first year of the driving license, the driver is considered a novice driver.

Germany

Not applicable

Greece

Information not available

Ireland

Information not available

Italy

Not applicable

Japan

Information not available

Luxembourg

Driverís licenses of categories A and B are issued for a limited time period of two years. These licenses are considered as provisional. After this two-year period of instruction and after having participated in a one-day course held in an approved training center, the driver may apply to have his or her license validated for the legal duration.

Netherlands

Not applicable

New Zealand

New Zealand has had a Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS) for private cars and motorcycles since 1987. The graduated system has three levels: a Learner License for which the minimum age is 15 and which must be held for a minimum of 6 months (or 3 months with a certificate of competency from an approved driving school); a Restricted License which must be held for at least 18 months (this can be reduced to 9 months on successful completion of an approved course); and a Full License which the holder of a Restricted License may acquire after serving the minimum time requirements and paying an appropriate fee. The licensing system is being reviewed and a number of changes have been proposed. (See detail)

Norway

A probational license is valid for two years; after which it will automatically be converted into a full driving license. This period cannot be shortened. If the probational license holder causes a serious traffic offence, his or her license is withdrawn, and he or she must pass another theory test and practical test. The probational period is then extended for another two years.

Portugal

A probationary system exists for the first license a candidate obtains. The probationary license is valid for two years, after which one automatically gets a permanent license. This period cannot be shortened nor extended. There are no limitations driving with a probational license.

Russia

Not applicable

Spain

Not applicable

Sweden

It is easier to lose the license during the first two years and it is not suspended, meaning that the driver must take all licensing tests again to get a new license.

Switzerland

Not applicable

United Kingdom

Not applicable

United States

Provisions vary from State to State

Enforcement

Enforcement practices, especially random breath testing or sobriety checkpoints, have been found to have a significant influence on impaired driving. The experience of the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria provide dramatic examples of the effectiveness of random breath testing (RBT). (Homel, McKay, and Henstridge 1995; Moloney 1995) Sobriety checkpoints have also been shown to reduce alcohol-related traffic crashes (Foss 1997, Lacey, in press).

Table 6 summarizes some of the enforcement practices in use in the countries studied.

Most countries use some form of random breath testing or sobriety checkpoints. The intensity of these enforcement campaigns varies. The countries in which random breath testing is reportedly most intensively used include France, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and some states in Australia.

Countries vary in their laws regarding testing of drivers for the presence of alcohol under various circumstances. Table 7 summarizes some of these laws.

Unlike the United States, many countries do not require a suspicion of intoxication before testing can be done. Many countries require testing of all drivers involved in a traffic crash. Most countries require a driver to submit to testing under prescribed circumstances and impose significant penalties for refusal to submit to testing. In Sweden, if the driver refuses to be tested, a test can be done by force. In Norway, a driver involved in a crash is prohibited from consuming alcohol after the crash until a test has taken place. Therefore, even if time elapses between the crash and testing, the driver cannot claim that the BAC measured resulted from having ingested more alcohol.

 

 

Table 6: Enforcement Practices

Country

Random Breath Testing (RBT)/Sobriety Checkpoints

Intensity of Enforcement

Australia

See State detail.

See State detail.

Australian Capitol Territory

RBT used frequently

Introduced December 1982

Not known

New South Wales

RBT used frequently .

Introduced 12/17/82

In New South Wales, the annual number of RBT tests is well over half the number of licensed drivers, an estimated 59 tests per 100 drivers per year.

Northern Territory

RBT used frequently

Introduced February 1980

Not known

Queensland

RBT used frequently

There were 760,000 RBT tests in Queensland in 1994-95 for about two million licensed drivers, a ratio of 38 tests per 100 drivers.

South Australia

RBT used frequently

In 1995, in South Australia, there were 220,001 RBTs conducted for 965,000 licenses. In 1997, SA doubled the number of breath tests carried out to more than 600,000.

600,000 in 1997.

Tasmania

RBT used frequently

The number of random breath tests in Tasmania has increased in recent years to approximately 83 per 100 drivers in 1997.

Approximately 83 per 100 drivers in 1997

Victoria

RBT used frequently

With about 2.9 million drivers, Victoria now conducts over 2.4 million tests annually, giving a test:driver ratio of .83.

2.4 million annually

Western Australia

RBT used frequently

The number of random breath tests in Western Australia increased from 52 per 100 drivers in 1994-95 to 85 per 100 in 1995-96.

Approximately 85 per 100 drivers in 1995-96

Austria

RBT used occasionally

Since 1988 the Austrian traffic police has been supplied with breathalyzers. The results of the testing have the same witness at court as a blood sample. Concerted action at certain times in certain regions: depends on the wanted offense for the action- in case of drunk driving enforcement, as many cars as possible are stopped and the driverís breath alcohol concentration will be checked.

Approximately 94,973

There have been a lot of changes in driving laws the last years and the decreased accident rates, number of persons injured or killed show the positive effects of these changes. In 1997, there were 94,973 breath checks for alcohol and 1,118 blood tests, most of the breath tests taken randomly.

Belgium

RBT used frequently

234,964 stops carried out by police

Enforcement is high.

Brazil

Information unkown

Canada

Random stopping of vehicles by police is allowed in Canada, but to request a breath or blood sample the officer must have "probable grounds" that the driver had been using alcohol. The use of random stops varies across the country, but the Criminal Code of Canada rules with respect to probable grounds are uniform.

Frequency of use of sobriety checkpoints and random stops varies by province/territory. Some jurisdictions deploy them year round while others only seem to use them during the Christmas holiday period. Much of the enforcement done is based on secondary enforcement as the result of an incident such as a collision, or from standard patrols observing erratic driving.

Czech Republic

Information unkown

Denmark

RBT used occasionally

Could be more efficient. In December, there is a high degree of enforcement (due to Christmas parties).

Finland

RBT used frequently

1.5 to 2.0 million stops

It is at a good level, only suspension times for driving license are short.

France

RBT used frequently

Enforcement is high:

Of 677,808 random tests at check points in 1997, 88,587 were positive.

Of 1,522,785 tests conducted in 1997 as a result of traffic violation, 95,115 were positive.

Of 791,155 tests conducted as a result of accidents, 16,121 were positive.

Germany

RBT not permitted

Estimations of the probability of detection of driving while intoxicated range between 1/50 and 1/500.

Greece

Information unkown

Ireland

Information unkown

Italy

Used occasionally.

Not known

Japan

Information unkown

Luxembourg

Used occasionally.

Not known

Netherlands

RBT used frequently

In the Amsterdam police region, approximately 90,000 motorists are tested at random annually. This is the equivalent of one test in every five driverís license holders in the Amsterdam region. Testing varies greatly by region. Estimated 500,000 random tests per year nationwide.

New Zealand

RBT used frequently

New Zealand operates a random breath testing program called "compulsory breath testing" (CBT). CBT laws give the police the power to test any driver, anytime, and anywhere without first having a good cause to suspect that the driver has been drinking. CBT is usually conducted at check-points although the law also allows mobile patrols to stop and test any driver. Each police district is contracted to deliver a certain number of hours of alcohol enforcement in their local communities. Standards for the level and types of alcohol enforcement activities are specified including CBT operations.

1.25Ė1.5MM at CBT checkpoints; 380,000 mobile test

New Zealandís Road Safety Program for 1998-1999 accounts for approximately 20 percent of the total NZ police budget. Strategic outputs of speed control, drink or drugged driver control, restraint device control and visible road safety enforcement are delivered according to Risk Targeted Patrol Plans which allocate police strategic hours to known road safety risks, days of the week, times of the day, areas, routes and localities. The plans ensure that traffic patrols are optimally targeted and utilized, and provide support for both locally and nationally planned road safety promotion campaigns.

Norway

Information unkown

Portugal

Information unkown

Russia

Information unkown

Spain

RBT used frequently

Level of enforcement is poor. Note on number of tests: For a population of 39,000,000 and 17,000,000 drivers, only approximately 1,300,000 breath tests were performed in 1997.

Sweden

RBT used frequently

Any police officer can stop any driver at any time and any place and request a screening breath sample. A positive sample = suspicion which leads to evidentiary testing which can be either blood or breath.

Enforcement has high priority. About 1.2 million random breath tests per year in a population of approximately 4.5 million drivers.

Switzerland

Information unkown

United Kingdom

RBT not permitted, although random stopping is permitted and can lead to testing on suspicion.

Enforcement is reasonable and increasing. The drink-drive limit has remained unchanged since it was first introduced, along with roadside breath testing, in 1967. Evidential breath testing was introduced in 1983 as an alternative to the taking of blood samples. By streamlining the prosecution procedure, this has encouraged a large increase in roadside enforcement. Better roadside screening devices have also increased enforcement. In 1996 over 780,000 roadside tests were carried out in England and Wales alone, compared with 241,000 in 1983.

United States

RBT not permitted

Sobriety checkpoints are permitted in most States. Their use varies greatly from locality to locality and over time.

Varies from locality to locality.

Table 7: BAC Testing Rules

Country

Testing Rules

Australia

 

Australian Capitol Territory

Compulsory blood testing for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians aged 15 or older attending hospital after crash

New South Wales

For drivers, riders, and pedestrians over 15 years in hospitals after road crash. (12/17/82)

Northern Territory

Compulsory blood testing for drivers, riders and pedestrians over age 15. (Not clear if this refers to those involved in road crash)

Queensland

Legislation for compulsory blood testing passed in 1974 but was not proclaimed

South Australia

Not available

Tasmania

No legislation on compulsory testing

Victoria

Compulsory blood testing of all people older than 15 years who have been taken to hospital after a road crash. In 1991, changed to Code of Practice

Western Australia

No legislation on compulsory breath testing

Austria

It is compulsory to submit to the testing. If the driver refuses testing, the police act as if a BAC of .16 is confirmed.

Until 1994 the police could carry out breath testing only in case of reasonable suspicion of intoxication. Now they can carry out breath testing in every case without reasonable excuse. The driver has to undergo the test.

Used always if people get injured, because the drivers will be ordered to court. If cars are little damaged and itís possible for the drivers to remove the cars from the street, itís not necessary to call the police. If the police come to the accident site because the damaged cars impede traffic, they use breath testing occasionally (in case of suspicion). There is no law which demands breath testing. Mostly the police check breath BAC in cases of suspicion of intoxication independent from the reason for stopping the car (traffic control, traffic violation, accident, etc.) Most times breath testing is used. If the driver is injured and comes to hospital, a blood test is used.

Belgium

The police may require a breath test of any person who is presumed to have caused a traffic accident, even if that person is a victim; any person driving a commercial vehicle or accompanying an apprentice driver; or any persons prepare to drive a vehicle or machine in a public place.

Testing upon arrest is used frequently. Breath testing is given, but a blood test is taken if the result of the breath test is a minimum 0.22 mg/l, or when the breath analysis can not be executed or when the driver is apparently in an intoxicated state(due to either alcohol or drugs.)

Brazil

Information not available

Canada

There needs to be a reasonable suspicion that alcohol is present before a request for breath or blood can be made. Even in the breath checkpoints, requests for a sample must be based on a suspicion of alcohol. This is consistent across the country, as the legislation that covers drinking and driving is the Criminal Code of Canada and is applicable across the country.

Drivers involved in crashes are not routinely tested. Depending on the class (fatal, injury, or property damage) of collision, the officer may not see the driver soon after the collision. In the case of injured drivers, there are a number of problems. In the case of an injured driver who can not provide a breath sample, the officer may request a blood sample. There is a process of obtaining a tele-warrant to subpoena blood from unconscious drivers. The actual practice is not simple or straightforward as it raises other issues related to the chain of evidence, the patientís health and patient confidentiality. In addition, some health care professionals have concerns, real and perceived, about their legal liability and whether it is their job to do alcohol enforcement with their patients. However, testing on fatally injured drivers tends to be high and fairly consistent across the country.

Czech Republic

Information not available

Denmark

Testing is always compulsory when the police require a test.

Breath test at the roadside, followed by a blood test at the police station in case the breath test indicates an illegal blood alcohol concentration

Finland

Testing is always compulsory if police officer suspects alcohol.

France

Breath testing is frequently mandatory for accidents that require a police report. Both blood or breath tests are permitted. Breath is taken if the driver is able to blow; blood if injured or unable to blow. Of 791,155 tests conducted as a result of accidents, 16,121 were positive.

Germany

Blood testing is compulsory if there is a founded suspicion of intoxication.

Greece

Information not available

Ireland

Information not available

Italy

The blood alcohol content is checked by means of breath tests. A BAC equal to or greater than .08 per litre must be proven by at least two concordant tests performed 5 minutes apart. The equipment used for BAC measurement is called "etilometro" (ethylometre.) BAC tests are usually carried out by the police patrolling the streets, roads and highways, or they may be performed at sanitary facilities (in which case the BAC may also be checked by means of blood tests.)

Japan

Information not available

Luxembourg

The alcohol test is mandatory for drivers involved in an accident with casualties. Testing is optional when nobody has been injured. If a public prosecutor orders the police to carry out random roadside checks, all drivers during these checks must take a mandatory alcohol test. If the breath test is positive, the driver has to submit to a blood test. Both breath and blood testing are permitted.

Netherlands

Drivers are obliged to comply with a preliminary breath test for alcohol (screening test) when asked by the police. The police are allowed to impose a temporary driving ban on drivers suspected of being under the influence (as a result of the preliminary breath test or otherwise.) A driver suspected of being under the influence is obliged to comply to evidential breath testing (for alcohol) or evidential blood testing (for alcohol or other impairing substances) at the police station. Refusing the evidential breath or blood test is a criminal offense. If the evidential test is refused by the driver, the result of the preliminary breath test will be used as evidence in the subsequent criminal procedure. Refusing the preliminary breath test is a violation of administrative law.

New Zealand

Breath and blood testing are conducted depending on the levels and breath testing device used. If the person returns an evidential breath test result that is between 400 and 600 micrograms alcohol/litre breath on a conclusive breath-testing device, he or she can elect to have a blood test. However, if their breath alcohol level is over 600 micrograms/litre on a conclusive device, they do not have the right to have a blood test and will be prosecuted on the basis on the evidential breath test results. If the alcohol testing is conducted on a non-conclusive device, the person has the right to elect a blood test at all alcohol levels. It is not an offense to refuse to submit to an evidential breath test. However, any person who refuses an evidential breath test will almost certainly be asked to suppy a blood specimen. If the person refuses to comply with this request, he or she can be charged with refusing to supply a blood specimen. This offense has the same penalties as an excess breath or blood alcohol offence.

As the police have the power under New Zealandís CBT laws to test any driver, these laws allow them to test where there is suspicion of intoxication or when a traffic violation has been committed. It is highly likely that all drivers who are suspected of being intoxicated will be tested.

The laws allowing CBT will cover drivers involved in crashes. In most serious crashes attended by the police, it is highly likely that drivers will be tested for alcohol, especially if there is a suspicion that any of the parties were involved in drinking. In fatal crashes, it is usual practice for blood samples to be taken from deceased drivers for blood alcohol analysis as part of the post mortem procedure. Breath and blood alcohol tests can be conducted on drivers involved in crashes if the driver is capable of undertaking a breath test. If the driver is injured or unconscious, a blood specimen can be taken at the hospital at the request of the police.

Norway

Information not available

Portugal

The blood alcohol concentration may be determined by a breathalyser or blood test. The Highway Code lays down a conversion formula of 1 mg of alcohol per liter of air exhaled equals 2.3 mg of alcohol per liter of blood. Drivers unwilling to take a breathalyser test may opt for a blood test instead. Blood tests are conducted on all road accident victims suffering injuries requiring hospital treatment.

Russia

Information not available

Spain

The law is not well enforced. If the road accident is not so dangerous, the drivers are usually tested. If there is a person injured and removed to the hospital, they are usually not tested. People who are killed in traffic accidents should be screened for alcohol in the blood, but this is quite rare.

Sweden

A driver cannot refuse. If he or she refuses a breath test, blood will be taken with force if necessary.

Switzerland

Information not available

United Kingdom

In the UK the police have virtually unlimited powers to stop a driver, but may only administer a breath test if a) the driver has been in an accident, b) the driver is believed to have committed a traffic offense, or c) the police officer has a resonable suspicion that the driver has been drinking. In any cases, breath testing is used for screening at roadside; breath, blood or urine for evidential purposes.

United States

Varies from State to State

Drivers in crashes are often not tested. Testing of fatally injured drivers varies greatly from State to State. Drivers must submit to testing if there is probable cause. Most States have penalties equal to or greater than those for impaired driving if the driver refuses to submit to testing.

Alcohol Use

As can be seen from Table 8, the per capita consumption of alcohol varies greatly from country to country.

Table 8: Per Capita Consumption (in liters) of Ethanol.

Country

Per Capita Alcohol Consumption

Australia

7.6 (1994/5)

Austria

9.8 (1995)

Belgium

9.1 (1995)

Brazil

3.6 (1995)

Canada

6.2

Czech Republic

10.1 (1995)

Denmark

10.0 (1995)

Finland

6.6 (1995)

France

11.5 (1995)

Germany

9.9 (1995)

Greece

9.0 (1995)

Ireland

9.2 (1995)

Italy

8.8 (1995)

Japan

6.6 (1995)

Luxembourg

11.6 (1995)

Netherlands

8.0 (1995)

New Zealand

7.0 (1994/5)

Norway

4.1 (1995)

Portugal

11.0 (1995)

Russia

5.8 (1995)

Spain

10.2 (1995)

Sweden

5.3 (1995)

Switzerland

9.4 (1995)

United Kingdom

7.3 (1995)

United States

6.4 (1996)

Source: 1996 World Drink Trends published by NTC Publications

Among countries included in the table, the lowest consuming countries include Brazil, Norway, and Sweden (less than five liters per capita). The highest consuming countries, drink at more than twice that rate and include France, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, and the Czech Republic.

 

Laws Related to Youth

Table 9 shows the minimum purchase age for alcohol as well as other laws related to youth.

Many countries set a different age for consumption than for purchase. The minimum consumption or purchase age varies from as low as 14 to a high of 21. Some countries report having no minimum age. Even in countries that have a legally established minimum purchase age, reports of informants in some countries indicate that this law is widely ignored and that many people are unaware that any such limit exists. The United States is very unusual in having a minimum purchase age of 21. Interestingly, in most countries the minimum age for driving licensure is older than or equal to the drinking age, unlike the United States, in which all states allow licensure well before drinking is permitted.

 

 

Table 9: Laws Related to Youth

Country

Minimum Drinking Age

Minimum Purchase Age

Minimum Driving Age

Graduated Licensing

BAC Limit

Australia

18

18

18

Yes

.05

Australian Capitol Territory

18

18

18

Yes

.05

New South Wales

18

18

18

Yes

.05

Northern Territory

18

18

18

Yes

.05

Queensland

18

18

18

Yes

.05

South Australia

18

18

18

Yes

.05

Tasmania

18

18

18

Yes

.05

Victoria

18

18

18

Yes

.05

Western Australia

18

18

18

Yes

.05

Austria

16

16 for beer and wine; 18 for all

17

Yes

.05 or .25 mg/l in breath

Belgium

15

No limit

18

No

.05 or .22 mg/liter of breath

Brazil

18

Not available

18, 21 for commercial or heavy vehicles

Not available

.08

Canada

19 in Alberta and Quebec, 18 in all others

Not available

Set by provincial law

Yes

.08

Alberta

19

 

16

Yes

.08

British Columbia

18

 

16

Yes

.08

Manitoba

18

 

16

Yes

.08

New Brunswick

18

 

18 (16, instructional permit with parental consent)

Yes

.08

Newfoundland

18

 

17 (16 for learnerís stage)

Yes

.08

Northwest Territories

18

 

16

No

.08

Nova Scotia

18

 

16

Yes

.08

Ontario

18

 

16

Yes

.08

Prince Edward Island

18

 

16

Yes

.08

Quebec

19

 

16

Yes

.08

Saskatchewan

18

 

16 (15 for learnerís permit if enrolled in course)

Yes

.08

Yukon

18

 

16

No

.08

Czech Republic

Information not available

Denmark

18

18

18

No

.05

Finland

18

18

18

No

There are two limits: .05 or .25 mg/l for breath; .12 or .6 mg/l for breath for severe drunken driving

France

16

16

18

Yes

.05 for a simple offense; .08 is a penal offense

Germany

16

16, 18

18

No

.05, .11 for criminal offense

Greece

Not available

18

Not available

Not available

.05

Ireland

18

18

Not available

Not available

.08

Italy

16

16

Not available

No

.08

Japan

Not available

21

Not available

Not available

.00 in practice

Luxembourg

17, 18

None

18

Yes

.08

Netherlands

Not available

16, 18

18

0

.05 BAC or 220 mg/l BrAC

New Zealand

20

20

15

Yes

.08 percent for drivers aged 20 or older (80 mg alcohol per 100 mls blood or 400 micrograms alcohol/litre breath)

Norway

18, 20

18, 20

18

Yes

.05

Portugal

None

Not known

18

Yes

.05

Russia

21

Not known

18

Not available

.02

Spain

16

16

18

No

.08 (will be .05 as of May 6, 1999)

Sweden

18

18 in restaurants; 20 in monopoly stores

18

Yes

.02 for drunken driving and .10 for gross drunken driving

Switzerland

14-16, 18 for spirits

14-16, 18 for spirits

18

Not available

.08

United Kingdom

18

18 (though no effective control of consumption)

17

No

.08; Breath alcohol limit 35 microgrammes/100 ml (.35 male); urine alcohol limits 107 mg/100 ml (1.07 g/e)

United States

Varies from State to State

21 in all States

Varies from 14 to 17

18 States have graduated licensing systems.

6 States have some elements of a graduated licensing system.

.00 to .02 in all States

Social Attitudes about
Drinking and Driving in Europe

In 1996, a consortium of European traffic safety agencies sponsored the second survey regarding Social Attitudes to Road Traffic Risk in Europe (SARTRE). Fifteen European countries participated in the survey (SARTRE 1998). Survey agencies in each country interviewed a representative sample of approximately 1,000 licensed drivers (who had driven a motor vehicle in the last year) regarding their attitudes and behavior in driving, seat belt use, speeding, alcohol use, and other related topics.

The results of the survey highlight some of the wide variations in attitudes and behaviors from country to country and culture to cultureóeven within Europe. Perceptions of risk, attitudes toward enforcement and penalties, and drinking and driving behaviors vary in interesting and significant ways. While similar survey results are not available for all of the countries covered in this report, the variations observed in Europe indicate the importance of the relationship between the attitudes and behaviors of drivers and the nature of laws and enforcement in the country. The level of agreement between stringent laws and supportive attitudes and behavior can be very influential in determining the degree to which existing laws will be enforced and whether these laws are likely to be further strengthened or eroded.

The full report includes detailed analysis of many different issues on a country-by-country basis, but a brief summary of some of the issues most relevant to the current project may be of interest for selected countries:

Table 10. Social Attitudes about Drinking and Driving in Europe

Country

Social Attitudes

Austria

Alcohol is not frequently regarded as a main cause of crashes. The recent law banning alcohol use for new drivers finds great support. Driving after drinking small amounts is often reported. There is also a larger than average percentage of drivers who report driving when over the legal limit and a larger number of drivers who believe that they can drink a large quantity before driving.

Belgium

A high proportion of drivers in Belgium favor raising the illegal BAC limit (it was recently lowered to .05). Driving when over the limit is frequently reported, as is high consumption before driving.

Finland

Many drivers support a full ban on alcohol on the roads. Drivers in Finland do not drink often, but when they do, they drink a lot. They do not drive after drinking and perceive that they have a high chance to be breathalyzed. Drivers do not believe that alcohol is a frequent cause of crashes.

France

French drivers drink often, but they drink small amounts and they drive afterwards (obeying the limits). They reject a ban of alcohol on the roads and support raising the limit (it was recently lowered). Drivers believe that alcohol is a frequent cause of crashes in France.

Germany

German drivers tended to respond to the survey in ways similar to the average European respondents.

Greece

Greek drivers report in high proportion that they drink and drive and they say that they drink a considerable amount before driving. They perceive that their chances of being breathalyzed are very low and they support a lower BAC limit. Greek drivers believe that alcohol is a frequent cause of crashes.

Ireland

Few Irish drivers drink daily, but they drink large quantities and drive after drinking. They would like to see the BAC limit raised. (It was lowered recently to .08.) They believe that they are very unlikely to be breathalyzed.

Italy

Many drivers in Italy drink often but not in large quantities. They believe that their chances of being breathalyzed are low, but they tend to adhere to the legal limit of .08. Many Italian drivers favor lowering the BAC limit and prohibiting drinking among young drivers.

Netherlands

High proportions of drivers drink daily and drink lightly. Few drivers report driving after drinking and many drivers support a ban of alcohol on the road and for young drivers. Drivers do not perceive that alcohol is a frequent cause of crashes in the Netherlands.

Portugal

Drivers in Portugal drink often and in small amounts and tend to drive after drinking. The number of alcoholic drinks they believe to be permitted is higher than average and they are in favor of lowering the BAC limit (currently .05).

Spain

Spanish drivers believe that the number of drinks permitted before driving is high and often report driving after drinking, although they believe that they adhere to the limit. The rate of abstention is higher than average in Europe. Drivers believe that their chances of being breathalyzed are low.

Sweden

Drivers report infrequent consumption, but heavy consumption per occasion. They do not drive after drinking and support a ban on alcohol on the roads. Alcohol is perceived as a frequent cause of crashes in Sweden.

Switzerland

Swiss drivers believe that the chance of being breathalyzed is low. At the same time a high proportion adhere to the limit. A significant proportion, however, exceed the limit. There is little support for a ban on alcohol while driving. Alcohol consumption is moderate, for the most part. There may be differences, however, among the French, German, and Italian-speaking parts of the country.

United Kingdom

If drivers from the UK drink, they drink many units of alcohol and believe that drinking many units before driving is permissible. Alcohol is regarded as the most frequent cause of traffic crashes and the likelihood of being breathalyzed is considered low. At the same time, many drivers do not drive after consuming even small amounts of alcohol. There is also considerable support for a complete ban on alcohol on the roads. The UK currently has one of the highest BAC limits (.08) in Europe.

The Impact of International Trade Agreements

Many countries are currently involved in international trade agreements. The North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Union have the potential to have an impact on alcohol policy and laws related to impaired driving (Vingilis, Lote, and Seeley 1998). For example, policies that restrict the availability of alcohol and impose high taxes in some Scandinavian countries are threatened by free trade agreements. The elimination of alcohol monopolies in Sweden, Norway, and Finland is projected to increase consumption by nearly 100%, with a dramatic increase in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. BAC laws are also subject to change by trade agreements. In 1989, the European Commission proposed harmonizing the maximum BAC to .05%. This would require lowering the limit in some countries and raising it in others. Similarly, laws related to commercial transport are subject to harmonization. These laws include regulations regarding drug and alcohol use by commercial drivers and required random and for-cause testing of drivers. In any study of current laws, the potential impact of free trade agreements must be considered.

 

 

Other Research Needed

Having more complete and current information regarding the range of impaired driving laws in countries around the world is interesting in itself. It would be even more useful; however, to be able to examine the alcohol-related crash rates in these same countries and examine possible relationships between existing laws and crash rates. This task would not be simple or straightforward. One major complication is that officially reported alcohol-related crash rates are subject to major differences in measurement and reporting methodology, which can make comparisons inaccurate. They may also be prone to error. For example, some recent official alcohol related crash rates in Europe appear in Table 11.

Table 11: Officially Reported Proportion of
Fatal Crashes Involving Alcohol*

Italy

1%

Luxembourg

4%

Belgium

8%

The Netherlands

8%

Sweden

9%

United Kingdom

15%

Germany

20%

Finland

25%

Spain

26%

Denmark

29%

France

40%

Source: Directorate General for Transport of the European Commission 1995

*The rate for 1995 reported in the US was 41.2%

 

It is highly unlikely that some of these reported rates are accurate reflections of what the rates would be if measured using methods similar to those used in the United States. For example, the officially reported rate in Sweden of 9% is based on police reports of alcohol involvement. Because of the nature of duties of police officers at the scene of fatal crashes, they are frequently not in a position to judge whether alcohol was involved. Autopsies carried out on all fatally-injured drivers find a rate of 18% alcohol involvement (Laurell 1999). This discrepancy illustrates some of the serious reporting and measurement problems that may distort alcohol-related fatality rates and make comparisons across countries difficult and possibly misleading.

The DG7 of the European Union is currently carrying out a project to describe the measurement and data collection methodology and maintain a database for all of the EU member states. The measurement and data collection variables reported in the data base include:

 

The draft database includes extensive notations on the figures reported for each country indicating special circumstances, caveats, and difficulties in data interpretation. Thus, it is clear that to collect and attempt to interpret alcohol-related crash data and compare the data across countries will be challenging and will require careful interpretation.

Further work is needed to collect and interpret information on laws, alcohol-related crashes, and data quality. By carefully analyzing this information, the relationship between laws related to impaired driving and alcohol-related traffic crashes can be better understood. This analysis can contribute to improvements in laws and policies.

 

References

 

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Blomberg, R. (1992). Lower BAC limits for youth: Evaluation of the Maryland 0.02 Law. In Alcohol and Other Drugs: Their Role in Transportation. Transportation Research Circular No. 413. Washington, DC: National Research Council, pp. 25-27.

Directorate General for Transport of the European Commission, Alcohol, Drugs, and Medicines and Driving, High Level Working Party of Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, WP 1, VII/392/1995, p 21.

European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), Response to the request of Sub-Committee B of the House of Lordsí European Communities Committee concerning evidence of safety effects of a lower legal limit for the blood alcohol level for drivers (1997), Brussels, Belgium.

Foss, R. (1997). Effect of an intensive sobriety checkpoint program on drinking-driving in North Carolina, in Mercier-Guyon, C. (ed.), Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety, CERMT, Annecy, France, pp. 943-948.

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Homel, R., McKay, P., and Henstridge, J. (1995). The Impact on Accidents of Random Breath Testing in New South Wales: 1982-1992. In Kloeden, C. and McLean, A. (eds.) Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety Volume 2. Australia: NHMRC Road Accident Research Unit pp. 849-855.

Johnson, D. and Fell, J. (1995), The Impact of Lowering the Illegal BAC Limit to .08 in Five States in the U.S., in Kloeden, C. and McLean, A. (eds.) Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Alcohol Drugs and Traffic Safety, The University of Adelaide, Australia, pp. 361-366.

Lacey, J. (in press), "Checkpoint Tennessee: Tennesseeís Statewide Sobriety Checkpoint Program." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Moloney, M. (1995). Random Breath Testing in the State of Victoria, Australia. Kloeden, C. and McLean, A. (eds.) Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety Volume 2. Australia: NHMRC Road Accident Research Unit pp. 823-827.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (January 1, 1999). Digest of State Alcohol-Highway Safety Related Legislation. (17th edition). DOT HS 8088 30, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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