Drinking and driving: Maximum authorised level of alcohol in the blood

The purpose of this recommendation is to combat drinking and driving by setting a uniform maximum level of alcohol in the blood (AL) and encouraging cooperation on this matter within the Community in order to reduce public-health hazards.


Commission recommendation of January 2001 concerning the maximum authorised level of alcohol in the blood (AL) of motor-vehicle drivers [Official Journal L 43 of 14.02.2001]


Context According to estimates at least 10 000 drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists suffer fatal accidents within the Community each year as a result of driver's faculties being diminished by the consumption of alcohol. The research confirms that an alcohol level of between 0.5mg/ml and 0.8 mg/ml greatly increases the risk.

Making AL uniform throughout the Community would certainly send a more powerful message and provide a clearer reference.

This recommendation forms part of the proposed action programme relating to public health (2001-2006) which pinpointed alcohol as an area needing specific action as part of that on road safety.

Recommended authorised level of blood alcohol The Commission recommends two different AL within the Community. They will be applied in accordance with the criteria for drivers and vehicles.

The standard AL for all motor vehicle drivers which should be adopted by all of the Member States is one not exceeding 0.5 mg/ml. At the moment most of the Member States have already adopted that AL limit.

In addition a second AL of 0.2 mg/ml is recommended for certain types of driver and vehicle, namely:

The term "driving licence" used in this recommendation refers to the definitions set out in Directive 91/439/EEC on driving licences.

Means of applying the AL The recommendation feels that all of the Member States should adopt a system of random detection by analysing expelled air in order to dissuade drivers from drinking. Moreover, each driver should be exposed to a statistically real probability of being checked at least once every three years.

In addition the Commission feels that the Members States should work towards acceptance of the draft Directive on measuring instruments in order to harmonise breathalyser accuracy.

Follow-up at Community level Close cooperation between the Member States and the Commission at Community level is recommended, more especially for:

Last updated: 04.05.2006