Drunk Driving Laws in Iceland 2023: How Much Alcohol Can You Drink and Drive?

drinking and driving laws in Iceland

Drinking and driving is explicitly forbidden in Iceland according to the law. Drivers must abide by this restriction to guarantee adherence to the law and encourage responsible driving behavior. Failure to follow this regulation can result in fines and suspending one’s driver’s license.

The effect of alcohol on BAC can vary from individual to individual. While consuming a standard alcoholic beverage may raise the BAC to 0.02%, this can differ depending on factors like a person’s physiological makeup. To illustrate, two individuals who consume an equal amount of beer may exhibit different blood alcohol concentrations.

This webpage aims to inform and increase understanding of the risks associated with drunk driving in Iceland. The content provided on this website does not endorse or encourage driving under the influence of alcohol in any country or region.

While information on drinking and driving statistics in Iceland is scarce, it is worth noting that in 2020, there were eight reported road deaths in the country. Additionally, 727 road traffic accidents resulted in injuries, with 131 categorized as severe.

To prioritize your road safety, it is of utmost importance to abstain from driving after consuming alcohol. If you need transportation after drinking, consider alternative and secure modes of travel. Utilizing designated driver services or opting for a taxi can significantly reduce potential risks.

Before visiting a new country, it is crucial to be aware of the specific laws regarding drunk driving in that particular location. Additionally, you can ensure your sobriety by periodically checking your blood alcohol level using an alcohol breathalyzer.

For more detailed information regarding Iceland’s regulations on drunk driving, you can refer to the country’s official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Iceland

Consuming even a single alcoholic drink can induce dizziness and impair cognitive function, influencing your decision-making abilities and everyday behavior. Such impairments increase the likelihood of accidents, making drunk driving a grave concern.

The effects of alcohol typically become noticeable within 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption. Drinking alcohol or using drugs before driving can lead to various impairments, including:

  • Difficulty assessing distances and speeds
  • Reduced visual acuity
  • Slower response times
  • Episodes of panic
  • Hallucinations
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Heightened aggression or restlessness

Regardless of whether you feel or appear sober, consuming alcohol can give you a false sense of confidence that may result in reckless behavior. Engaging in such actions increases the risk of causing harm to both yourself and other drivers on the road.

It is essential to acknowledge that individuals react differently to alcohol. Various factors can influence a person’s blood alcohol concentration, including:

  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Hunger levels
  • Stress levels
  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Medications taken

Even if you think you are sober after consuming alcohol, your driving abilities can be compromised. Some individuals may not experience the effects of alcohol until they are already operating a vehicle.

While BAC calculators and charts can provide an estimate of the acceptable alcohol consumption limit before driving, it is essential to understand that alcohol affects each person differently. Therefore, these tools may not be universally applicable.

We recommend using an alcohol breathalyzer to assess your blood alcohol content before assuming vehicle control.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Iceland

Even the slightest amount of alcohol intake can have a profound impact on your driving skills. Coordination and decision-making abilities can be impaired even with a BAC level as low as 0.010% to 0.029%, and these effects become more pronounced as the BAC rises.

It is important to note that the severity of regulations and penalties related to drunk driving can vary depending on the country. 

In Iceland, getting caught driving while intoxicated may result in a fine of 100,000 ISK and a driving ban for four months.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Iceland?

As mentioned, several factors, including gender, can influence BAC levels. The higher presence of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes responsible for alcohol breakdown in men’s bodies is believed to contribute to the disparity in BAC levels between men and women. Consequently, men tend to absorb alcohol more rapidly than women.

Consuming alcohol can impair vision and increase the risk of accidents while driving. Therefore, it is advisable to abstain from drinking alcohol before operating a vehicle to ensure road safety.

You can use the following recommendations to estimate how much alcohol you can consume before driving. However, it’s worth noting that individual responses to alcohol vary, and the information provided here only serves as a general guideline. Therefore, the suggested alcohol quantities listed below may not be appropriate for everyone.

How Many Bottles of Beer Can You Drink and Drive in Iceland?

Drinking beer and driving in Iceland

Weight has a considerable impact on a person’s blood alcohol levels. According to BAC charts, those with lower body weights frequently have higher BAC levels.

For example, a male weighing 160 pounds (72 kg) who consumes a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer may have a BAC of 0.02%, while a lady of the same weight may have a BAC of 0.03%. This comparison emphasizes the impact of gender on alcohol metabolism.

Since Iceland has strict drunk driving laws, it is best not to drink any beer before driving to prevent legal apprehension.

How Many Wine Glasses Can You Drink and Drive in Iceland?

A typical serving of wine amounts to 142 milliliters (5 ounces) and has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 12%.

If a man weighing 160 pounds (72 kilograms) consumes a glass of wine, his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) might reach approximately 0.02%. However, the presence of factors such as stress, medication, and hunger levels can influence BAC readings.

We recommend avoiding wine consumption before driving in Iceland.

How Many Whiskey or Vodka Shots Can You Drink and Drive in Iceland?

Distilled spirits such as whiskey and vodka typically have an ABV of 40%.

In a similar scenario, a 160-pound man consuming one shot of spirits may reach a BAC of approximately 0.02%, while a woman of the same weight may have a BAC of around 0.03%. However, it’s important to note that these levels can be influenced by the factors mentioned earlier, leading to higher BAC readings.

Drinking any amount of vodka or whiskey is strictly not advisable before driving in Iceland.

Sticking to Drink and Drive Laws in Iceland

Drunk driving is a significant risk to the safety of the roads. Even a minimal amount of alcohol can hinder a driver’s coordination and abilities. Hence, it is of utmost importance for drivers to take necessary precautions and fully understand the consequences associated with drinking and driving.


It is crucial to regularly monitor your blood alcohol level, even if you have consumed just a small quantity of alcohol. If you are uncertain about your driving ability, it is advisable to consider alternative methods of transportation.

Using a certified alcohol breathalyzer is a reliable device for monitoring your blood alcohol level.

For more detailed information on drunk driving laws in Iceland, we recommend visiting the country’s official website.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.