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

Australia has a defined legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which stands at 0.05%. This threshold is generally reached by consuming two standard alcoholic drinks. Learners and drivers with provisional licenses are held to a stricter BAC limit of 0.00%.

It is crucial to acknowledge that the effect of alcohol on BAC can differ among individuals, even when consuming the same amount. Various factors, including alcohol metabolism in the body, can contribute to variations in BAC levels.

The purpose of this article is to provide readers with information about driving while under the influence in Australia. It is important to note that the content on this website does not support or promote impaired driving in any place or nation. It is always advisable to make responsible decisions and prioritize the safety of yourself and others while driving.

According to Australia’s Transport Accident Commission, around 1 in 6 road deaths involves individuals with a BAC below 0.05. This highlights the need to exercise caution and responsibility regardless of whether one’s BAC falls within the legal limit.

Around 77%, or roughly 2.7 million individuals, also admit to driving after consuming one to two drinks. Moreover, an alarming figure of approximately 175,000 people openly admit to driving with a BAC above the legal limit of 0.05. The enforcement efforts to combat drunk driving are crucial, as 1 in 6 people subjected to breathalyzer tests are found to be driving while exceeding the legal BAC limit.

These figures emphasize the ongoing need for rigorous enforcement, education, and awareness campaigns to address this persistent issue and reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents on Australian roads.

Drivers must refrain from operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol. However, in situations where driving is unavoidable following alcohol consumption, it is advisable to choose safer alternatives for transportation, such as authorized driving services or taxis.

Before visiting any country, individuals should acquaint themselves with the specific regulations regarding driving under the influence in that particular location. Regularly utilizing a breathalyzer to monitor one’s blood alcohol level can help ensure compliance with legal limits while driving.

For more comprehensive details on laws about drunk driving, you can visit Australia’s Department of Health and Aged Care official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Australia

The consumption of even a single alcoholic beverage can lead to dizziness and hinder cognitive abilities, significantly elevating the risk of accidents when operating a vehicle under the influence.

Typically, the effects of alcohol become noticeable within a period of 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion.

Despite feeling subjectively sober, consuming alcohol can still impair a person’s ability to drive. In certain situations, the detrimental effects of alcohol on driving skills may not become evident until the individual is already operating a vehicle.

To identify your current BAC level you can use our BAC calculator or charts are accessible tools for estimating the allowable alcohol consumption before driving in Australia. Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that alcohol affects individuals in varying ways, making these methods less universally dependable.

It is recommended to use a certified alcohol breathalyzer to measure alcohol levels accurately. This device offers a more precise assessment of your personal alcohol level.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Australia

Consuming as little as one bottle of beer or a glass of wine can impact your ability to drive. As your BAC rises, these impairments become more noticeable. Your coordination and decision-making abilities can be compromised even at BAC levels as low as 0.010% to 0.029%.

Drivers must comprehend that drunk driving laws and penalties can vary from country to country. Being aware of the consequences of surpassing the legal BAC limit is essential. Violations of drunk driving laws can lead to fines and other penalties.

Alcohol restrictions, laws, and penalties vary across different Australian states and territories. But generally, if you are apprehended for drunk driving with a 0.05% BAC level or higher, the following consequences will apply:

  • Suspension of driver’s license for at least three (3) months.
  • You will be required to participate in a mandatory Behavior Change Program.
  • An alcohol interlock device will need to be installed in any vehicle you drive (once you regain your license) for at least six (6) months.
  • You must adhere to a zero BAC requirement while driving for at least three (3) years.
  • In the case of severe offenses, there is a risk of imprisonment.

You may check Australia’s official government website for more detailed information about drunk driving penalties.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Australia?

Research indicates that various factors, including gender, can influence an individual’s blood alcohol concentration.

The higher presence of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes in males is believed to contribute to the difference in BAC levels between males and females. These enzymes are involved in alcohol metabolism, leading to faster alcohol processing in men than women.

Consuming alcohol can have adverse effects on vision and cognitive functions, significantly raising the risk of accidents while operating a vehicle. It is strongly advised to abstain from alcohol consumption before driving.

The following suggestions offer general guidelines for estimating allowable alcohol intake before driving in Australia. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that individual responses to alcohol can vary, making these recommended quantities not universally applicable.

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

Drink beer and drive in Australia

An individual’s body weight plays a vital role in determining BAC. BAC charts show that people with lower body weights tend to have higher BAC levels.

For example, a man weighing 160 pounds (72 kg) who drinks a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer might reach about 0.02% BAC level. On the other hand, a woman of similar weight may have a BAC of around 0.03% after drinking the same amount of beer. This comparison shows how gender affects how alcohol is processed in the body.

We suggest limiting your alcohol intake to one or two beers if you plan to drive afterward in Australia.

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

A typical serving of wine is usually around 142 milliliters (5 ounces) and has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 12%.

Based on the earlier example, limiting your wine intake to one or two glasses is advisable in Australia.

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

Distilled spirits such as whiskey and vodka typically have an alcohol by volume of 40%.

Limiting your consumption of whiskey or vodka to one or two shots is recommended in Australia.

Sticking to Drink and Drive Laws in Australia

Consuming alcohol has the potential to impair a driver’s abilities, creating a significant hazard to road safety. Drivers must exercise caution and be aware of the dangers of driving under the influence.

It is crucial to comply with Australia’s legal BAC limit of 0.05% to abide by the law and prioritize the safety of all drivers. It is recommended to regularly monitor one’s BAC, even after consuming a small amount of alcohol, by using a certified alcohol breathalyzer for accurate measurements.

Considering alternative transportation options is highly advisable to ensure safety when there is any uncertainty about one’s ability to drive.

Please consult Australia’s Department of Health and Aged Care website for more comprehensive information on drunk driving laws and regulations.

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.