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

drinking and driving laws in Portugal

In Portugal, driving is subject to a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.05% grams (50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood). Adhering to this limit is crucial for drivers to comply with the law and promote responsible conduct. Failure to comply with this legislation can result in fines and legal or administrative consequences.

The impact of alcohol on BAC can vary from person to person. Consuming one or two standard alcoholic beverages can raise the blood alcohol content to 0.05%. However, this can vary depending on an individual’s physiology. For instance, two people who consume the same amount of beer may exhibit different blood alcohol concentrations.

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.

In 2019, the proportion of drivers who passed away with a BAC of 0.05% and higher was 37%, representing an increase compared to previous years. Amongst all age groups, individuals between the ages of 20 and 54 exhibited the highest rates of road fatalities associated with alcohol consumption.

Considering alternative modes of safe transportation is essential if you must travel after consuming alcohol. Refraining from driving after drinking is crucial to ensure the safety of all individuals on the road. Utilizing authorized driving services or taxis is a responsible approach to minimizing potential risks.

Awareness of local regulations concerning drunk driving before visiting a particular country is essential. Regularly using an alcohol breathalyzer to monitor your blood alcohol level is another method to ensure you are not alcohol-impaired.

For more detailed information about drunk driving laws in Portugal, it is advisable to visit the country’s official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Portugal

Even one alcoholic beverage can cause dizziness and impair cognitive function, affecting your decision-making ability and daily behavior. Thus, the probability of an accident increases dramatically, making drunk driving a severe worry.

The effects of alcohol typically become apparent within 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion. The consumption of alcohol or drugs can result in various impairments, including:

  • Difficulty accurately judging distances and speeds
  • Decreased visual acuity
  • Sluggish reaction times
  • Instances of panic
  • Hallucinations
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Heightened aggression or restlessness

Regardless of one’s subjective perception or outward appearance of sobriety, the consumption of alcohol can create a false sense of confidence that may lead to irresponsible behaviors. 

Engaging in such actions significantly increases the potential for causing harm to oneself and other drivers on the road.

It is important to understand that individuals react differently to alcohol. Even if an individual’s BAC level remains below the legal limit of 0.05% in Portugal, they may still exhibit signs of intoxication. Several factors can influence an individual’s BAC, including:

  • Body weight
  • Gender
  • Hunger level
  • Stress levels
  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Medications taken

Even if you feel sober after consuming alcohol, you must know that your driving abilities can still be compromised. Some individuals may only realize the effects of alcohol once they are already operating a vehicle.

While BAC calculators and charts can provide an estimate of the permissible alcohol consumption limit before driving, it is crucial to acknowledge that everyone reacts differently to alcohol. Consequently, these tools may not universally apply.

For the most precise measurement of your blood alcohol content, it is advisable to utilize a certified alcohol breathalyzer.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Portugal

Even a minimal consumption of alcohol can have a significant influence on your driving abilities. Coordination and decision-making skills can be compromised even at a blood alcohol concentration as low as 0.010% to 0.029%, and these impairments become more prominent as the BAC level increases.

It is important to note that the severity of regulations and penalties related to drunk driving can differ among countries. For your reference, we have provided an overview of the penalties for drinking and driving in Portugal.

BAC Level of 0.05% to 0.08%

Having a BAC level of 0.05% to 0.08% in Portugal is considered a serious violation and may entail the following penalties:

  • Fines: €250 to €1250
  • Penalty Points: Three (3) penalty points (out of 12)
  • License Suspension: One (1) to twelve (12) months

BAC Level of 0.08% to 0.12%

Drivers with a BAC level of 0.08% to 0.12% in Portugal are regarded to have committed a very serious violation. They can be penalized with the following sanctions:

  • Fines: €500 to 2500
  • Penalty Points: Five (5) penalty points (out of 12)
  • License Suspension: Two (2) to Twenty-four (24) months

BAC Level Above 0.12%

Having a BAC level exceeding 0.12% is categorized as a crime in Portugal with the following repercussions:

  • Jail Time: Up to one (1) year in prison or;
  • Fines: Day fines equivalent to 120 days
  • Penalty Points: Six (6) penalty points (out of 12)

When Can You Drink and Drive in Portugal?

As mentioned previously, various factors can impact BAC levels. Gender is a huge factor that influences blood alcohol content.

The higher presence of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes, which are responsible for alcohol metabolism, in male bodies is believed to contribute to the difference in BAC levels between males and females. Due to this reason, men tend to metabolize alcohol at a faster rate than women.

Consuming alcohol can impair vision and significantly increase the risk of accidents while operating a vehicle. It is advisable to abstain completely from alcohol consumption before driving.

The following recommendations serve as general guidelines to help you determine the amount of alcohol you can drink before driving. However, you must remember that individual responses to alcohol can vary. The suggested alcohol quantities provided are only approximate estimates and may not be suitable for everyone.

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

Drinking beer and driving in Portugal

An individual’s body weight plays a significant role in determining their BAC. BAC charts indicate that individuals with lower body weights tend to have higher BAC levels.

For instance, consider a man weighing 160 pounds (72 kg) who consumes a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer. His estimated BAC may be around 0.02%. On the other hand, a woman of the same weight may have a BAC of approximately 0.03% after consuming the same amount of beer. This comparison highlights the impact of gender on alcohol metabolism.

If you intend to drive after consuming beer, you should restrict yourself to one or two bottles.

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

A standard serving of wine is typically around 142 milliliters (5 ounces) and contains an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 12%.

If a man weighing 160 pounds (72 kilograms) drinks a glass of wine, his estimated blood alcohol content (BAC) may reach approximately 0.02%. Nevertheless, it is important to consider that factors like stress, medication, and hunger can affect BAC levels.

Consuming wine in moderation and limiting the intake to one or two glasses is advisable.

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

Distilled spirits like whiskey and vodka generally have an ABV of 40%.

Similarly, if a man weighing 160 pounds consumes one shot of these spirits, his estimated BAC may be approximately 0.02%. Conversely, a woman of the same weight may have a BAC level of around 0.03% after consuming the same amount. However, the factors mentioned earlier can impact these levels.

Limiting the consumption of whiskey or vodka to one or two shots is recommended.

Sticking to Drink and Drive Laws in Portugal

Even a small quantity of alcohol can compromise a driver’s abilities and poses a substantial hazard to road safety. Drivers must exercise caution and fully comprehend the consequences of drunk driving.

Additionally, it is important to regularly evaluate your blood alcohol level, even if you have consumed just a small amount of alcohol. If you are uncertain about your driving ability, exploring alternative transportation options is advisable.

A certified alcohol breathalyzer serves as a reliable tool for monitoring your blood alcohol level.

For further information regarding drunk driving, we suggest visiting the official website of Portugal.

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.