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

drinking and driving laws in Switzerland

In Switzerland, driving a vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal threshold of 0.05% (equivalent to 50 grams of alcohol per liter of blood) can result in penalties and other consequences. It’s essential to be aware of this restriction and abide by it to avoid any legal or personal repercussions.

Achieving a BAC level of 0.05% is influenced by personal factors such as weight and gender, with an average person usually requiring one to two standard drinks.

This article intends to provide information and spread knowledge and awareness about the dangers of drunk driving in Switzerland. It’s crucial to emphasize that this website neither endorses nor condones drunk driving under any conditions or circumstances.

As the International Transport Forum reported, Switzerland experienced a significant increase in road fatalities, with 227 recorded in 2020, up 21.4% compared to the previous year. The rise in the use of e-bikes, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, has raised safety concerns in the country.

When you drive under the influence of alcohol, it presents significant safety risks to yourself and others on the road. You should entirely refrain from driving after consuming alcohol to avoid these risks. If driving is necessary, consider using designated driver services, taxis, or other forms of transportation.

It’s important to follow laws and regulations concerning drunk driving. Before driving, it is crucial to determine your BAC. Using an alcohol breathalyzer is the best method for measuring your BAC.

For more information on drunk driving restrictions in Switzerland, it is advised to check Switzerland’s official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Switzerland

After having your first drink, signs of intoxication may start to show up, which can impair your rational thinking and lead you to engage in behaviors you wouldn’t do when sober.

The most significant risk of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the increased likelihood of causing a collision.

Alcohol usually takes 30 minutes to 2 hours to enter your system after drinking. Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is dangerous because it can negatively impact many aspects of your driving skills, such as:

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

It’s important to be aware that the effects of alcohol and drugs can still occur, even if you don’t feel or appear intoxicated. Additionally, using these substances can create a false sense of confidence, leading to more reckless behavior and putting yourself and others in danger while driving.

It’s worth noting that although the legal BAC limit in Switzerland is 0.05%, the effects of alcohol can vary depending on individual factors. Several factors can influence a person’s BAC levels, including:

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


Before you start driving, it’s a good idea to check the quantity of alcohol in your system. Even if you don’t feel drunk, your driving skills could still be affected by alcohol. Some people may feel shaky or dizzy after drinking alcohol.


While BAC calculators and charts can help you figure out how much alcohol you can drink before driving, it’s important to remember that everyone reacts to alcohol differently. So, these tools may not work for everyone.

The most reliable way to check your BAC is by using a certified alcohol breathalyzer.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Switzerland

People with blood alcohol levels between 0.010% to 0.029% may seem okay and not show many signs of being impaired. But as their blood alcohol levels increase, they become more affected by alcohol and show more signs of being drunk.

Drinking and driving laws vary from country to country. It’s best to check your blood alcohol level before driving to avoid getting fined or punished.

Here are the penalties for drinking and driving in Switzerland:

BAC Level of 0.05% to 0.079%

  • If you receive a formal reprimand for breaking traffic regulations in Switzerland, you may also face a fine ranging from CHF 600 to 800.
  • If you were also found to have violated another traffic regulation, such as speeding, you might be suspended from driving for at least one month and required to pay a heavy fine.
  • The exact amount of the fine depends on your financial circumstances.

BAC Level of 0.08% and Above

  • Driving ban for at least three months and a heavy fine (the exact amount depends on financial circumstances and BAC level).
  • Repeated offenses may result in a prison sentence of one to three years.
  • Suspended monetary penalty.

BAC Level of 0.16% and Above

  • As an additional consequence, you must take a driving aptitude test.
  • The test will be conducted by a specialist who will assess if you have an alcohol addiction.
  • During this period, you will have to abstain from alcohol consumption for a few months.
  • You will be required to submit proof of abstinence by submitting a hair sample.
  • If the specialist approves, you may have your driving license reinstated.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Switzerland?

A person’s BAC levels can be affected by many things, including their gender. Studies show that men and women have different BAC thresholds because men have more alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes, which break down alcohol faster than women.

The following guidelines can give you an idea of how much alcohol you can have before driving in Switzerland. But remember that everyone reacts to alcohol differently, so this information is just an estimate and may not work for everyone.

If you must drive, it is advisable to avoid drinking entirely. Even one glass of alcohol or wine might impair your vision and cause you to take unnecessary risks.

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

Drinking beer and driving in Switzerland

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

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

In light of this example, it is advisable to limit your beer intake to one or two bottles if you plan to drive later.

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

Understanding alcohol by volume (ABV) can be helpful when measuring BAC. A standard wine glass, holding approximately 142 milliliters (5 ounces), typically contains 12% ABV.

In the scenario outlined earlier, a man weighing 72 kilos (160 pounds) who consumes one glass of wine may have a BAC of 0.02%.

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

As a result, it is recommended to limit wine consumption to one or two glasses if you intend to drive.

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

Distilled alcoholic drinks, like vodka and whiskey, typically contain 40% ABV. 

For example, a man weighing 72 kilograms (160 pounds) can have a BAC of 0.02% after consuming one shot of either drink. In contrast, a woman of the same weight and consuming the same amount may have a BAC of 0.03%, indicating the effect of gender on alcohol metabolism.

Remember that these numbers are only approximate BAC levels, and various factors such as stress, medications, and an empty stomach can affect BAC levels differently.

Hence, limiting consumption to one or two shots of whiskey or vodka is advisable if planning to drive afterward.

Sticking to Drink and Drive Laws in Switzerland

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious threat to safety on the road, as it can significantly affect a driver’s coordination and judgment. Drivers must be aware of the risks of drunk driving and take the necessary precautions to avoid it.

Even if you have consumed a small amount of alcohol, checking your BAC level and driving ability is vital before getting behind the wheel. It’s advisable to consider alternative means of transportation if you’re unsure about your ability to drive safely.

To ensure that you’re not impaired, using a certified alcohol breathalyzer to measure your BAC level before driving is an effective solution. Doing so can help prevent accidents and ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.

For the most recent updates on drunk driving laws, it’s recommended to visit the official website of Switzerland.

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.