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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.
  • Revoked driving licence for 1 year (2 years in some cases, e.g. repeat drunk driving).

Aggravated drunk driving

  • 1.0 per mille (‰) = 0.5 mg of alcohol per litre of breath.
  • Punishable by imprisonment for up to 2 years.
  • Revoked driving licence for 2 years. Must retake the theory test and driving test.

Per mille

Per mille (‰) = thousandth. In relation to alcohol, “1 per mille” means that there is one part alcohol per 1,000 parts blood (1/1,000 concentration of alcohol in the blood).

Alcohol What happens
0.1–0.4‰ Loss of certain inhibitions and overestimation of one’s own abilities. Slower reaction time.
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.
  • 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 drinking strong coffee, cold showers, 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.
  • Your weight, general health, gender, drinking speed and food choices also have an 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.
  • The legislation on drunk driving is applicable everywhere, including fenced-off areas and private property.
  • The mandatory use of an alcolock may be an option instead of a revoked licence.

Medication in traffic

  • You are not allowed to drive if the medication makes you a traffic hazard. This prohibition is applicable even if the medication has been prescribed by a doctor.
  • It is your responsibility to judge whether the medication 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, providing that you can drive in a safe manner.
  • Driving under the influence of medication that causes you to be a traffic hazard is subject to the same legislation as drunk driving.

Drugs in traffic

  • There is a zero-tolerance approach to the use of drugs or narcotics in traffic. Not even the smallest trace is permitted.
    • Exception: Permitted if the drug has been prescribed by a doctor, providing that you can drive in a safe manner.
  • If you constitute a traffic hazard because you are under the influence of drugs, you are subject to the same legislation as you would be for drunk driving.
  • Different types of drugs:
    • Stimulants lead to hyperactivity and a driver’s overestimation of their driving abilities. The sense of tiredness is suppressed, and the driver could fall asleep at any time without warning. Cocaine and amphetamines are included in this group.
    • Sedatives cause sluggishness and concentration difficulties. Heroin, opium and morphine are included in this group.
    • Hallucinogens cause hallucinations and disorientation, and impair judgement. LSD is included in this group.

Mobile phones

Using a mobile phone or similar equipment in traffic can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 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.
  • A hands-free device frees both your hands, but be aware that the conversation itself is distracting. A complicated phone call can make you lose focus, even though you have both hands free.
  • 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.

Clarification regarding the use of mobile phones

Can I hold my phone in my hand if I keep both hands on the steering wheel and use speaker phone?
– No, you are never allowed to hold your phone while driving, despite the fact that you manage to keep both hands on the steering wheel at the same time. The same is true about holding your phone against the gear stick or against your legs. Holding your phone is prohibited, no matter how you do it.

Is using the car’s built-in GPS allowed?
– Yes, if it is used 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 do not 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, if you can do so in a safe manner. It is prohibited if it makes you inattentive and thus creates a traffic hazard.

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

  • 20% of traffic deaths are related to the use of drugs or alcohol.
  • It is estimated that there are around 15,000 drunk drivers on the roads every day.
  • 25,000 are caught drunk driving each year. 15,000 of these are under the influence of drugs.
  • 90% of drunk drivers are men – mostly young or middle-aged.

Alcohol calculation

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

Example: How many centilitres (cl) of spirits (40% volume) corresponds to 50 cl of low-strength beer (3.5% volume)?

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

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