Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal in all EU countries. How many people do it? Accurate statistics are hard to come by, because most of us won't admit to breaking the law.
What we do know is this: statistically, drivers who have been drinking are more likely to be involved in a road accident. Alcohol or drugs are a factor in nearly 25% of automobile accidents, resulting in the loss of around 9 000 lives every year.
But alcohol can be dangerous even when you're not behind the wheel. A surprisingly high number of people are killed in accidents while riding their bike or even walking after having had too much to drink.
What are the risks?
Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, affecting the body in many different ways.
Moving, seeing, reacting
- It's harder to concentrate.
- Reaction times are slower.
- You have less control over your movements.
- You can become euphoric, more impulsive and more likely to take risks.
- Your muscles become weaker, so you will be more severely injured in an accident.
More on how alcohol affects driving ability
Alcohol-related crashes and injuries
How much is too much?
- Even the smallest amount of alcohol will affect your driving. If you have to drive, it's best not to drink at all.
- Don't offer an alcoholic drink to someone you know is driving.
- Laws vary from country to country, with some adopting a zero-tolerance approach (no alcohol at all before driving).
- The amount you've drunk is measured in blood alcohol content (BAC), which will depend on factors such as your weight, health, food consumption and genetic make-up.
Blood alcohol limits around the EU
You can still go out!
- Take turns driving. When it's not your turn, pay for the driver’s soft drinks!
- Take a taxi.
- Use public transport.