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Drink Driving Laws & Punishments Around the World

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Drink driving Vietnam – DFR Solicitors

The way in which drink driving is viewed from one part of the world to another can vary enormously. Some countries have not made the kinds of efforts that have brought about the huge cultural shift in driving under the influence that we have seen in the UK, while others are even less tolerant of drink driving than we are.

Here, we take a look at just a few examples of how drink driving is punished around the world.


A lot of countries throughout Asia have historically suffered with alarming statistics for drink driving-related accidents. To confront this, many authorities have sought to implement a number of extremely harsh penalties as a means of dissuading their residents from “taking the risk”. A good number have adopted the approach that the harsher the penalty, the more it will act as a deterrent.

In Taiwan for example, their high levels of alcohol-influenced accidents have led them to really tightening the laws. The level of alcohol permitted in the body is now super low, at 0.03%, which is on a par with Japan, Hong Kong and Korea. It is entirely possibly with these levels that you could be over the legal limit to drive more than a day after a heavy night. Those convicted face up to 2 years in prison together with a large fine. If you happen to have been involved in an accident whilst driving under the influence, this can go up to 7 years in prison, while causing a fatality can increase the sentence to more than 10 years.

In the UK, causing a fatality whilst driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to a prison term of 14 years, subject to any mitigation submitted by your drink driving solicitor.

Middle East

Getting caught drink driving in countries such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates can result in a lifetime ban, lengthy imprisonment and public flogging.


There are of course differing rules across the globe, and all will be relative to the level of the offence that is committed, but what they do show is that attitudes to drink driving vary widely. Here are some further examples:

Poland – you may be forced to attend a series of lectures on the issue of drink driving

Russia – it is possible that you will be sent to work in a labour camp

Australia – you will be publically shamed in the press (something that happens a lot over here in the UK, too).

The UK

The law within the UK is standardised, but something that you might find surprising is the fact that the actual levels of alcohol that constitute a violation vary. It is entirely possible therefore to be over the limit in one part of the UK, but perfectly within it elsewhere. Sound strange?

This is due to Scotland having recently adopted a lower level of alcohol that is permitted compared to the rest of the UK. In fact, it is roughly two thirds of the level. Therefore, theoretically, you could find yourself crossing from England whilst under the limit, and into Scotland, in excess of it. The penalties however, and the areas within the UK to which they are applied, are all standard. So if you are convicted in Scotland, the penalties will apply to the rest of the UK, even though you would have been legally driving on that side of the border.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, there are some places where drink driving is much more widely accepted. Burkina Faso, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Vietnam are all examples of countries where drink driving is tolerated and goes unpunished.

In search of legal expertise? DFR Solicitors specialise in motoring law and drink driving law. Contact us for a free consultation today.