Alcohol Limits for Drivers in Portugal in 2024

drinking and driving laws in Portugal

In Portugal, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when driving is capped at 0.05%, equivalent to 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

The primary objective of this website is to enlighten visitors and foster their comprehension of the risks entailed by driving under the influence in Portugal. It is of utmost significance to underscore that the information presented on this platform neither endorses nor promotes operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants, regardless of the country or region.

What is the legal alcohol limit for driving in Portugal?

In Portugal, the legal alcohol limit for drivers varies depending on the category of driver. These limits are designed to ensure the safety of all road users by setting strict thresholds for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. Here’s how these limits break down by driver category:

  • Regular Drivers: 0.05% BAC (50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood)
  • Novice Drivers (drivers with less than three years of experience): 0.02% BAC
  • Professional Drivers (those operating commercial vehicles, passenger transport, etc.): 0.02% BAC

These regulations are in place to reduce the risk of accidents and enhance road safety across Portugal.

Drink and Drive Penalties and Punishments in Portugal

In Portugal, the penalties and punishments for driving under the influence of alcohol are determined based on the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. These sanctions vary according to the severity of the offense and the type of driver involved. It is crucial for drivers to understand these penalties, as they are designed to discourage drink-driving and enhance road safety. Below is a breakdown of the BAC limits and corresponding sanctions for various categories of drivers:

BAC Limits and Sanctions:

  • Standard Drivers:

    • Legal limit: 0.5 g/L
  • Professional Drivers (bus and coach drivers for public transport):

    • Legal limit: 0.2 g/L

Penalties for Novice (first 3 years); Emergency Vehicle, Taxi, Bus/Coach, HGV, Transport of Dangerous Material Vehicle, Vehicle for Public Transport of Children, Professional Drivers:

  • BAC ≥0.2 g/L – <0.5g/L (Serious):
    • Fine: €250-1250
    • Penalty points: 3 (out of 12)
    • Licence suspension: 1 – 12 months
  • BAC ≥0.5 g/L – <1.2 g/L (Very Serious):
    • Fine: €500-2500
    • Penalty points: 5 (out of 12)
    • Licence suspension: 2 – 24 months

Penalties for Ordinary Drivers:

  • BAC ≥0.5 g/L – <0.8 g/L (Serious):
    • Fine: €250-1250
    • Penalty points: 3 (out of 12)
    • Licence suspension: 1 – 12 months
  • BAC ≥0.8 g/L – <1.2 g/L (Very Serious):
    • Fine: €500-2500
    • Penalty points: 5 (out of 12)
    • Licence suspension: 2 – 24 months

Penalties for All Drivers with BAC ≥ 1.2 g/L (Crime):

  • Penalty points: 6 (out of 12)
  • Punishment: Up to 1 year in prison or 120 days of fine

Note: Portugal employs a day-fine system, where each day-fine is valued between 1 euro and 500 euros. The court decides the exact amount and the total number of days. Offenders have the option to request that the fine be wholly or partially substituted with days of work in state establishments, public law corporations, or private charitable institutions, if deemed a sufficient punishment.

It’s important for drivers to regularly check the official state’s website for the most current information regarding drink-driving laws and penalties, as these regulations are subject to change.

How Can I Calculate If My Alcohol Blood Limit Is Legal in Portugal?

In Portugal, the police use breathalyzers to determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on the spot. This method provides an immediate measure of alcohol levels, allowing law enforcement to enforce drink-driving laws effectively. As someone deeply familiar with the field of phlebotomy and with a decade of experience, I recommend two methods for individuals to self-assess their BAC levels, ensuring they stay within legal limits:

1. Use a High-Quality Alcohol Breathalyzer

For those seeking a reliable way to measure their BAC, I strongly recommend the BACtrack S80. This device is noted for its professional-grade accuracy and has been approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) & National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is FDA 510(k) cleared. Its precision makes it a valuable tool for anyone looking to gauge their sobriety before driving. Keeping a BACtrack S80 in your vehicle is a prudent measure, especially since it’s common for people in Portugal to misjudge their alcohol levels, potentially leading to impaired driving.

2. Utilize My BAC Calculator

Alongside other phlebotomists and with the assistance of web developers, I have created an online BAC calculator. This tool is designed to help individuals estimate their blood alcohol levels based on various factors such as the amount of alcohol consumed, the time frame of consumption, and personal attributes. You can find this calculator online and use it as a guideline to understand your BAC level better.

Important Consideration

It’s crucial to remember that while both the BACtrack S80 and the online BAC calculator offer helpful estimates of your alcohol levels, neither method can guarantee 100% accuracy due to the complexities of how alcohol is metabolized by different individuals. These tools should be used as a guide to assist in making responsible decisions about driving. They can provide a valuable indication of whether you might be over the legal limit of 0.05% BAC in Portugal and potentially deter you from driving under the influence. However, the safest approach is always not to drive if you’ve consumed alcohol.

Ways to Avoid Driving with a High BAC in Portugal

Drinking beer and driving in Portugal

Driving under the influence of alcohol significantly increases the risk of accidents on the road. In Portugal, where the legal limits for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) are strictly enforced, it’s essential to consider alternative transportation options if you’ve been drinking. Here are some practical recommendations to ensure you stay safe and within the law:

1. Utilize Taxi Services or Ride-Sharing Apps

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to avoid driving after drinking is to use taxi services or ride-sharing apps. In Portugal, you have access to global platforms like Uber, which offer reliable and quick options to get you home safely. Additionally, each city has its local taxi companies that provide excellent services. For instance, if you’re in Lisbon, you can rely on Lisboa Taxis – Táxis & Transfers Lda, a reputable local taxi firm. In Porto, Taxi-Link Porto is a well-known service catering to residents and visitors alike. These services can be easily accessed via phone or app, ensuring you have a safe trip back home without the need to drive.

2. Opt for Designated Driver Services

If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve driven to a location and consumed alcohol, but are concerned about leaving your vehicle behind, consider using a designated driver service. These services provide a professional driver who will drive you and your car back home. In Lisbon, Maurício Rodrigues offers such services, ensuring you and your vehicle get home safely. In Porto, the international service Blacklane operates and can provide a similar solution. To find a designated driver service in your area, a quick Google search for “designated driver service” followed by your city’s name will yield relevant options.

By planning ahead and choosing alternatives to driving after drinking, you not only ensure your safety but also contribute to the safety of others on the road. Whether it’s booking a ride through an app or arranging for a designated driver to take you home, these options help you avoid the risks associated with high BAC driving in Portugal. Always remember, the best decision is to not drink and drive.


Sticking to Drink and Drive Laws in Portugal: Sad Statistics

In 2019, 37% of road fatalities in Portugal involved drivers with a BAC of 0.05% or higher, marking a rise from previous years, particularly among individuals aged 20 to 54. This statistic underscores the critical importance of avoiding driving after consuming alcohol to protect all road users.

Utilizing taxis or authorized driving services is a key strategy for reducing the risk of accidents when alcohol consumption is involved. It’s also advisable to stay informed about drunk driving laws, which can be done by visiting Portugal’s official website for the most current regulations.

Regular monitoring of your blood alcohol level with a certified breathalyzer is recommended, even after moderate drinking. This precaution helps ensure driving safety. If in doubt, opting for alternative transportation methods is the safest choice.

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.