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

drinking and driving laws in Sweden

Sweden implements a lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit set at 0.02% or 0.2 grams per liter (g/L) of blood. Compared to other European countries, Sweden enforces stringent regulations for drunk driving.

Depending on different factors, it usually takes one standard drink to achieve a BAC level of 0.02%.

A BAC of over 0.02% is illegal in Sweden, regardless of whether a driver causes an accident or not. All drivers, including those with a standard driver’s license, professional drivers, and novice drivers with a probationary license, are subject to this restriction.

This article aims to inform readers and increase awareness about the dangers of drunk driving in Sweden. It’s vital to emphasize that this website does not endorse or condone driving while intoxicated.

Sweden witnessed a decline in road deaths between 2018 to 2019. The country recorded 221 fatalities in 2019, which is 32% lower than the previous year.

The decreased road fatalities in Sweden is considerable progress in improving road safety. Sweden ranks second in the EU in terms of road safety, next to Luxembourg. The country’s road fatality rate is also one of the lowest in the world, with only 22 deaths per million inhabitants in 2019.

Driving while intoxicated poses severe dangers to your safety and other road users. To eliminate these hazards, you should never drive after drinking. If you must drive, think about using a designated driver service, a taxi, or another mode of transportation.

It’s crucial to abide by the rules and laws of intoxicated driving. It’s critical to know your BAC before you drive. The most accurate way to determine your blood alcohol content is to use a breathalyzer.

Check the official website of Sweden for more details on the country’s prohibitions on drunk driving.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Sweden

After your first drink, intoxication may start to take effect. Alcohol can impair your ability to think clearly and cause you to act in ways you wouldn’t normally do when sober. Hence, the possibility of causing a collision when driving while drunk is high.

After drinking, alcohol typically takes 30 to 2 hours to enter your system. Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is risky since it can have a negative effect on several areas of your driving abilities, including:

  • your perception of distance and speed,
  • reaction time and cohesiveness
  • unpredictability of behavior
  • vision impairment or fogging
  • panic attacks
  • paranoia, 
  • hallucinations,
  • nausea,
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness,
  • tremors, and
  • aggression.

Consuming alcohol gives a false sense of confidence which usually leads to reckless behavior. Although you do not appear or feel like you are drunk, signs of intoxication can still occur. Thus, there is a high chance of endangering yourself and others on the road.

While Sweden imposes a legal BAC limit of 0.02%, you should know that not everyone can acquire a BAC level of 0.02% in just one drink. 

Each individual’s BAC levels can vary depending on multiple factors. Some of these factors include the following:

  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Hunger
  • Stress levels
  • Quantity of alcohol consumed
  • Medication use

We recommend checking your BAC level using an alcohol breathalyzer before getting behind the wheel. There are instances wherein you don’t feel drunk, but your ability to drive is already affected by alcohol. In some cases, the effects of alcohol emerge when the person is already driving.

While BAC charts and BAC calculators can guide you in assessing how much alcohol you can consume before driving. However, bear in mind that each person’s response to alcohol varies. So, these tools may not be helpful for everyone.

Still, using a licensed alcohol breathalyzer is the most reliable approach to determining your BAC.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Sweden

Alcohol can significantly impair driving abilities. Even a modest amount of alcohol can impair one’s judgment and coordination.

A BAC level between 0.010% to 0.029% may not exhibit obvious signs of impairment. However, the symptoms of intoxication become more apparent as the BAC levels increase.

Driving laws and penalties vary in different countries. Driving while intoxicated in Sweden can lead to consequences, including hefty fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment. It is advisable to check your blood alcohol level before driving and ensure that you are fit to drive safely.

We have outlined the drunk driving penalties in Sweden below.

BAC Level of 0.02% to 0.09% 

Driving with a BAC level between 0.02% to 0.09% (0.2g/l to 0.99g/l) may lead to the following penalties:

  • Day fines, or
  • Imprisonment of up to six months;
  • License suspension for one year;
  • Warning may be issued for drivers with lower BAC levels of 0.02% to 0.03% instead of getting a suspension.

BAC Level of 0.10% and Above

Offenders with a BAC level of 0.10% (1.0g/l) may face the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment of up to two years;
  • Probation is possible depending on the severity of the case;
  • License suspension for two years or longer.

Day Fine Meaning

A day fine is a form of penalty based on an individual’s income. Day fines are implemented to guarantee that a crime’s punishment is proportional to the offender’s financial status.

When someone is guilty of a crime, the court will decide how many days they will be fined. The number of days is then multiplied by a predetermined amount. The resulting amount is the total fine that the individual must pay.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Sweden?

As already mentioned, various factors can influence BAC levels. According to studies, men and women have different BAC levels because men have more alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes than women.

The ADH is responsible for metabolizing alcohol. As a result, men process alcohol faster than women.

The recommendations below can assist you in determining how much alcohol you can handle before driving in Sweden. However, because everyone reacts differently to alcohol, this information is only a rough estimate and may not work for everyone.

If you must drive, it is best to avoid drinking completely. Even one glass of wine or beer might impair your vision and lead you to take excessive risks.

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

Drinking beer and driving in Sweden

Weight is another factor that can affect blood alcohol levels. BAC charts indicate that individuals with lower body weights typically have higher BAC levels.

For instance, a man weighing 72 kilograms (160 pounds) who consumes a 350 ml (12-ounce) beer may attain a BAC of 0.02%. However, a woman of the same weight and drinking the same amount of beer may have a BAC of 0.03%. This comparison highlights the impact of gender on alcohol metabolism.

Given this example, it is best not to drink any amount of beer before driving in Sweden. 

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Drink and Drive in Sweden?

 An average wine glass, which holds around 142 milliliters (5 ounces), contains 12% ABV.

In the earlier situation, a man weighing 72 kilograms (160 pounds) who takes one glass of wine could have a BAC of 0.02%.

However, it is essential to note that a variety of factors, including stress, an empty stomach, and drug use, can influence BAC levels.

Hence, no wine consumption before driving is the best course of action.

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

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

For example, a male weighing 72 kilos (160 pounds) can have a BAC of 0.02% after consuming one shot of either drink. A woman of the same weight who consumes the same amount may have a BAC of 0.03%.

Remember that these are approximate BAC values. Stress, drugs, and an empty stomach can all affect BAC levels.

Therefore, avoiding drinking whiskey or vodka is advisable if you intend to drive later.

Sticking to Drink and Drive Laws in Sweden

Impaired driving is a severe hazard to road safety. Even one drink can impair a driver’s coordination and driving capacity. Drivers must be mindful of the risks of intoxicated driving and make efforts to avoid it.

Even if you only drank a small amount of alcohol, monitoring your BAC level is still essential before driving. You must consider other modes of transportation if you are unsure about your ability to drive safely.

Using a certified alcohol breathalyzer to assess your BAC level before driving is an excellent method to determine if you are within the BAC limit. This method can also help prevent accidents and ensure your safety on the road.

We suggest visiting Sweden’s official website for the latest information about drinking and driving laws in the country.

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.