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

drinking and driving laws in Scotland

In Scotland, motorists must comply with a specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold of 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood (0.05% grams). Non-compliance with these rules can lead to consequences, including monetary charges and legal or administrative actions.

Usually, if you have one or two standard alcoholic drinks, it can increase the alcohol level in your blood to 0.05%. However, this may vary depending on the person. For example, two persons who consume the same pint of beer may have different alcohol levels in their bodies.

This webpage aims to enlighten and inform individuals about the risks of driving while intoxicated in Scotland. The content of this site does not endorse or incite the act of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol in any region or nation.

According to Transport Scotland, there were significantly fewer drink-driving accidents and injuries between 2009 and 2019. The number of accidents decreased by 62%, and the injuries and fatalities in these accidents decreased by 65%. In 2009, there were around 660 accidents and 920 casualties, but by 2019, these numbers had dropped to about 230 accidents and 350 casualties.

It is essential to steer clear of driving after drinking alcohol as it endangers not only yourself but also other motorists. If you need to travel after drinking, consider safe transportation options like designated driver services or taking a taxi to prevent potential dangers.

Knowing and comprehending the drunk driving laws in the country you’re in is a must. To ensure that you’re fit to drive, monitoring your blood alcohol level with an alcohol breathalyzer is also essential.

To learn more about Scotland’s drunk driving regulations, visit the country’s official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Scotland

Even one drink of alcohol can make you feel drunk, which can affect your ability to think clearly and act normally. Drunk driving is hazardous because accidents are more likely to happen.

It typically takes 30 minutes to 2 hours for the effects of alcohol to show up. If you drink alcohol or take drugs before driving, you may experience a variety of impairments, such as:

  • Reduced ability to accurately gauge distances and speeds
  • Vision impairment
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Heightened aggressiveness or combativeness

Alcohol consumption can make you feel overconfident, which can cause reckless actions, even if you don’t appear or feel drunk. This behavior can significantly increase the chance of endangering yourself and others while driving.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s response to alcohol is different. Even if you don’t exceed Scotland’s legal blood alcohol limit of 0.05%, you may still show signs of impairment. Many factors can affect a person’s BAC, including:

  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Hunger
  • Stress levels
  • Quantity of alcohol consumed
  • Use of medication

Even if you feel sober, your driving ability may already be impaired. There are cases where the effects of alcohol don’t show up until the person is already driving. We suggest using an alcohol breathalyzer to check your blood alcohol content before driving.

Although BAC calculators and charts can help you estimate how much alcohol you can consume before driving, remember that everyone’s response to alcohol is unique. Therefore, these tools may not be helpful to everyone.

The most dependable way to determine your BAC is by using a certified alcohol breathalyzer.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Scotland

Drinking alcohol, even in small amounts, can significantly impair your driving ability. Even a BAC level between 0.010% to 0.029% can impact your coordination and judgment, with symptoms worsening as your BAC level increases.

The laws and punishments for drunk driving may differ depending on the country. In Scotland, driving under the influence of alcohol can have severe consequences. 

You can find Scotland’s drinking and driving penalties below for your reference.

  • Driving ban: You can receive at least 12 months of a driving ban.
  • Imprisonment: You can get a prison sentence of up to 6 months.
  • Fines: You may get a fine of up to £5000.
  • Offense Record: The drink and drive offense stays on your license for 11 years.
  • Vehicle impoundment: Your vehicle may be impounded.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Scotland?

As previously discussed, BAC levels can be influenced by a variety of factors, including gender. Studies have shown that men and women have different BAC levels due to the higher concentration of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes in men’s bodies, which are responsible for breaking down alcohol. As a result, men tend to absorb alcohol more quickly than women.

Consuming alcohol can impair your vision and increase the likelihood of accidents while driving. As a result, it is advisable to abstain from drinking before getting behind the wheel to ensure safety on the road.

The following guidelines can assist you in determining how much alcohol you can consume before driving in Scotland. However, it’s important to note that everyone’s reaction to alcohol differs, and the information provided below is only an estimated quantity. Therefore, these guidelines may not be suitable for everyone.

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

Drinking beer and driving in Scotland

Body weight plays a significant role in determining blood alcohol levels. BAC charts indicate that individuals with lower body weights tend to have higher BAC levels.

For instance, a 160-pound (72 kg) male may reach a BAC of 0.02% after consuming a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer. On the other hand, a woman of the same weight who drinks the same amount of beer may have a BAC of 0.03%, highlighting the influence of gender on alcohol metabolism.

Therefore, limiting beer consumption to one to two bottles is recommended if you plan to drive after.

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

The average wine glass can contain about 142 milliliters (5 ounces) of liquid and has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 12%.

For instance, a 160-pound (72-kilogram) man who drinks one glass of wine could have a BAC of 0.02%. Nonetheless, it’s essential to remember that factors like stress, an empty stomach, and medication can all influence BAC levels.

Limiting wine consumption to one or two glasses is advisable.

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

Drinking distilled spirits like whiskey and vodka usually contains 40% ABV. Still, it’s worth noting that several factors, including weight, gender, stress, medication, and an empty stomach, can affect a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

For instance, a 72-kilogram (160-pound) male may have a BAC of approximately 0.02% after consuming one shot of whiskey or vodka, while a female with the same weight may have a BAC of around 0.03% after drinking the same amount of alcohol. However, these levels can even increase with the factors mentioned earlier.

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

Sticking to Drink and Drive Laws in Scotland

Operating a vehicle while impaired poses a significant threat to road safety, and even a minuscule quantity of alcohol can hinder a driver’s coordination and driving abilities. Therefore, drivers must take necessary precautions and fully understand the repercussions of drinking and driving.

It is vital to monitor your blood alcohol level, even if you only consume a beer or a small amount of wine. If you are uncertain about your driving ability, consider alternative transportation methods.

A certified alcohol breathalyzer is a reliable tool to monitor your blood alcohol level and ensure compliance with the legal limit, preventing accidents and safeguarding your well-being on the road.

To obtain the most up-to-date information on drinking and driving regulations in Scotland, we recommend visiting the official website of the Scottish government.

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.