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Alcohol, drunk driving, drugs and medications

Drunk driving

  • 0.2 per mille (‰) = 0.1 mg of alcohol per litre of breath.
  • Punishable by fines or imprisonment for up to 6 months.
  • 1 or 2 years with either a mandatory alcolock or a revoked driving licence.

Aggravated drunk driving (gross drunk driving)

  • 1.0 per mille (‰) = 0.5 mg of alcohol per litre of breath.
  • Punishable by imprisonment for up to 2 years (combined with gross negligence manslaughter = up to 6 years).
  • 2 years with either a mandatory alcolock or a revoked driving licence.

Per mille

Per mille (‰) = thousandth. In relation to alcohol, “1 per mille” means that there is one part alcohol per 1000 parts blood (1/1000 concentration of alcohol in the blood).

Alcohol What happens
0,1–0,4‰ Loss of certain inhibitions and overestimation of your own abilities. Slower reaction time (1/3 longer stopping distance).
0,4–1,0‰ Impairment of vision, speech and coordination.
1,0–2,0‰ Difficulty controlling the body, impaired balance and double vision.
2,0–3,5‰ Deep sleep.
Over 3,5‰ Great risk of coma or death.

Alcohol awareness

  • It may be considered drunk driving even if you are under the legal limit, if you are driving recklessly. In other cases, you may get a warning, even if your blood alcohol is over the legal limit.
  • Serving alcohol to someone you know will be driving may be considered complicity in drunk driving, which is a punishable offence. The same is true if you lend your car to a drunk person.
  • If you are taken into custody for being intoxicated in another context, your learner’s permit or driving licence may be revoked.
  • The legislation on alcohol applies not only to cars, but to all motor vehicles.
  • It is impossible to control your body’s breakdown of alcohol. Forget saunas and similar tricks, the only thing you can do is wait it out.
  • Even if there is no alcohol left in the blood, you often feel worn out the day after drinking a lot of alcohol.
  • Weight, general health, gender, drinking speed and food choices impact on your blood alcohol.
  • A person who consumes the exact same amount of alcohol on two different occasions may get different blood alcohol levels depending on a number of factors, such as what they have eaten.
  • The legislation on drunk driving is applicable everywhere, including fenced-off areas and private property.

Alcolock instead of revoked licence

As of 2012, it is possible to choose an alcolock instead of revoking a driving licence.

  • The person must then use the alcolock for 1 or 2 years (depending on the severity of the drunk driving offence).
  • This is only applicable to drunk driving relating to alcohol, meaning that it is not used when other drugs are involved.
  • The price of an alcolock is 20,000–50,000 kr (the alcolock itself along with regular inspections).

Medications in traffic

  • There is no list of drugs that are “prohibited in traffic”. The prohibition relates to driving in a manner that causes a traffic hazard. This prohibition is applicable even if the drug has been prescribed by a doctor.
  • It is your responsibility to judge whether the drug makes you a traffic hazard (consult your doctor, pharmacy and the package leaflet).
  • Narcotic substances can be legal if they have been prescribed by a doctor.
  • If you cause a traffic hazard when driving under the influence of a drug, it falls under the drunk driving legislation.

Narcotics in traffic

  • Zero tolerance against narcotics in traffic. There may not be the smallest trace.
  • If you cause a traffic hazard due to a drug, the drunk driving legislation applies.
  • Different types of drugs:
    • Stimulants lead to hyperactivity and an overestimation of your driving abilities. Tiredness is repressed, and the driver can fall asleep at any time without warning. Cocaine and amphetamine are part of this group.
    • Sedatives cause sluggishness and concentration difficulties. Heroin, opium and morphine are part of this group.
    • Hallucinogens cause hallucinations, disorientation and impairs judgement. LSD is part of this group.

Mobile phones

Using a mobile phone or similar equipment in traffic can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. A few facts:

  • It is prohibited to use a mobile phone, fiddle with a GPS device or similar if it makes you inattentive and thus creates a traffic hazard.
  • Using a handheld mobile phone is always prohibited when you are driving. This also applies to other handheld devices, like a GPS.
  • A hands-free frees both your hands, but does not reduce the risks to any greater degree, as it is the conversation itself that distracts you.
  • Text messaging behind the wheel is very dangerous (a significantly greater hazard than making a call). The risk level is the same as that of a highly intoxicated person. It is prohibited to text from a handheld mobile phone when you are driving.

Important clarification regarding the use of mobile phones

Is it allowed to use the car’s built-in GPS?
– Yes, in a safe manner. It is prohibited if it makes you inattentive and thus creates a traffic hazard.

Am I allowed to use the GPS on my mobile phone?
– Yes, but you cannot hold it in your hand. Type in your destination in advance. However, even if you don’t touch your phone, it is always prohibited to use it if it makes you inattentive and thus creates a traffic hazard.

Am I allowed to use voice control to call and send texts while driving?
– Yes, in a safe manner. It is prohibited if it makes you inattentive and thus creates a traffic hazard.

The conversation itself distracts you? Then would it not be just as dangerous talking to a passenger?
– Yes, in theory it is just as dangerous to talk to a passenger as with someone on the phone. The difference in practice is that the passengers often understand the traffic situation and can adapt their conversation accordingly. When you are driving out into a complicated junction, the passenger will usually refrain from asking a difficult question.

A person who you are talking to over the phone cannot see the traffic and is therefore unable to adapt. As the driver, you also feel a different pressure to answer the person’s questions right away instead of waiting until the traffic situation is calmer.

Who decides if I am driving inattentively and causing a traffic hazard?
– This is primarily something for you to assess yourself. However, in the end it is up to the police and the judicial system in each individual case.

Statistics

  • 70 people per year are killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents. That is 20% of the total number of killed.
  • 15,000–20,000 drunk drivers per day.
  • 30,000 people are caught drunk driving each year. 10,000 of these are due to drugs.
  • 50% of all drivers killed in fatal single-vehicle accidents were under the influence of alcohol.
  • 30% of cyclists and pedestrians killed were under the influence of alcohol.
  • 90% of the drunk drivers are men, primarily younger and middle-aged.
  • Young drivers are overrepresented in these statistics. They drive drunk more often and run a greater risk of being killed.

Alcohol calculation

Volume of spirits = percentage by volume * the volume in cl * 0.025

Example

How much spirits (40%) corresponds to 50 cl of light beer with 3.5 percentage alcohol by volume?

Answer: 3.5 * 50 * 0.025 = 4.38 ≈ 4 cl

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Last updated 2018-03-11.