Toughest DUI Laws Around the World

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How tough are DUI laws where you live? What about where you travel?  You may be surprised at how they vary, but you can be sure of one thing. If you are caught, you won’t like the consequences.

United States: Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, and Utah

In the United States, there’s no one federal DUI statute. Instead each state has its own laws. The strictest DUI law can be determined many ways.  The strictest limit threshold is in Utah. That is .05 percent blood alcohol content (BAC).  The strictest fine is $5,000 in the state of Washington.  Jail time may prove the longest in Massachusetts.  You can lose your license for three years in Ohio, while most states take your license for 90 days to a year.

In terms of overall penalties, there’s no doubt that the state of Arizona is definitely the strictest. If you refuse a field sobriety test, you’ve lost your license for a year.  If you are caught for DUI, there’s a $1,000-plus fine, ten days in jail, required classes, mandatory community service, ongoing sobriety testing, and an ignition interlock device for your personal vehicle.  Clearly having an Arizona DUI lawyer is essential from the first minute that you are accused in this situation.  

Europe: Poland, Germany and the UK

The most common legal limit for a European country is .05 percent BAC, more than most of the United States.  Some countries such as Moldova have dropped the limit to .03 percent BAC.  On the other hand, the UK and Malta continue to have an .08 percent limit like the United States.  UK penalties are stiff with a driving ban, up to three months in prison, and a fine of up to £5,000.

Penalties may be harshest in countries like Poland where the rate is just 0.2 percent BAC, and a person can be sent to jail up to two years if blood alcohol is .05 percent.  Germany’s penalties start at €500 and go up with each offense. The country allows judges to exceed minimum penalties and fines when dealing with repeat offenses.  

Africa: Libya, South Africa and Uganda

DUI laws vary widely on the largest continent.  Countries like Libya have a zero tolerance policy.  South Africa and Egypt are similar to Europe with a .05 percent limit.  Countries such as Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Rwanda have a .08 percent limit.  

South America: Brazil and Columbia

Brazil has a zero tolerance policy that punishes a driver with over 0.06 percent blood alcohol content as a criminal.  Under that percentage, a driver is sure to lose their license for a year, pay a huge fine, and lose their car.  Columbia has stiff penalties, too, taking away licenses for ten years in some cases. 

Asia: China, Japan, and India

The most common minimum in Asia is .05 percent BAC. However, it varies widely with some countries allowing a person to be declared drunk without a blood alcohol test.  Japan and India have a minimum of 0.3 percent BAC.  In China,  a person can be charged with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level between 0.1 and 0.7 percent. Over that 0.08 percent mark, they can lose their license for five years and go to prison for up to three years. 


Almost every country has harsher penalties for DUI if the person is operating a truck, a bus, or other large vehicle, especially if it is public transportation.  Furthermore, many have a zero tolerance policy  for the youngest drivers, establishing a .01 percent BAC limit.  

Governments tend to require large fines and other payments, making the process very expensive. Denmark imposes a fine of one month’s pay after taxes for the worst offenders.  While this may seem harsh, it may be fairer than most countries around the world which have set fees, regardless of the person’s wealth or income status. 

Regardless of where you live, from Arizona to Algeria, it’s best not to put yourself in the situation of driving drunk. Always have a designated driver or have a taxi ready to take you home.  The risk isn’t worth it. The penalties could ruin your finances and your life.