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Drunk Driving Penalties From Around the World

los angeles dui defense attorneyIf you’ve been arrested for DUI, you know the fear and stress that comes along with penalties and the time spent awaiting them. As any Los Angeles DUI attorney will tell you, the legal proceedings are no walk in the park; however, as with most unfortunate events in life, it can certainly always be worse. Here’s a look at drunk driving penalties from around the world.


Asian countries, by and large, exhibit very little patience for drunk drivers with many adopting a zero tolerance rule. Even those with looser laws generally do not permit an excess of 0.05% BAC. Penalties vary by region, but most follow a standard model of fines, suspensions, and imprisonment.


Similarly, European DUI penalties vary by country based on an individual’s BAC and frequency of offense. Drinking is very much a part of European culture; however, countries like Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have no tolerance for a single trace of alcohol in the blood.

Central America

Costa Rica and El Salvador both impose harsh consequences on anyone who chooses to drive under the influence. Costa Ricans are subject to a $500 fine, two year license suspension, and the possibility of vehicle revocation and jail time. Rumor had it that El Salvadorians found guilty of a DUI were punished by death; however, many have debunked this based on conflicting reports. Regardless, El Salvador allows for exactly 0.0% BAC, so it’s best not to chance it.

Related: How Serious Is a DUI Checkpoint Arrest? (VIDEO)


South Africa has strict DUI laws and rightfully so. The country sees over 45% of all unnatural deaths result from drinking and driving. While offenders face penalties similar to those of the United States (such as license suspension and monetary punishments), they also risk spending up to six years in jail.

United Arab Emirates

Saudi Arabia, which bans alcohol consumption entirely, carries a punishment of up to ten years in prison.  Most other countries in the Middle East have similarly harsh penalties for DUI. For example, according to, “In the relatively moderate Emirates last summer, an Abu Dhabi man was sentenced to 80 lashes and fined more than $7,000 US after he tested positive for alcohol following a traffic accident.”


Penalties for DUI in Australia vary across Australia’s states and territories. The land down under employs DUI checkpoints and field sobriety tests just as you may have seen or experienced in the US. While Australia’s BAC limit is 0.05%, licensed operators of commercial vehicles as well as those under the age of 25 must abide by the country’s zero tolerance policy. Aussie lawbreakers are slammed with an immediate license suspension for six months. Repeat offender? Their license becomes permanently revoked. Further, an offender may be charged up to three hours after driving based on their BAC.

North America

While the fines and penalties differ between Canada, Mexico and The United States, the legal limit remains a consistent 0.08%. The US applies a zero tolerance policy to minors and, though subject to controversy, requires a preliminary alcohol test that carries additional penalties for non-compliance. Fees, license suspensions, and jail time apply in all countries dependent upon frequency of the offense.

South America

South American laws are fairly similar to those of North America, with the exception of zero tolerance policies in Paraguay and Colombia—the latter carrying with it penalties of fines, community service, and license suspension for as little as 0.02% BAC.

While these penalties may offer much needed perspective on your case, you should still consult a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney if you have not done so already. Not until you have sought proper legal counsel can you begin the process of moving forward with your life financially and emotionally and get the best possible result. After all, driving while intoxicated in nearly any developed country is going to come with a specific set of consequences. While the punishment may fit the crime here in the US, a skilled Los Angeles DUI defense attorney can help to reduce the crime. Call Jon Artz at 310-820-1315 to discuss your case.

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