Drinking and Driving in Italy

Drinking and Driving in Italy
Ferrari in Rome, Italy, Photo by BnF1

Ferrari in Rome, Italy, Photo by BnF1

When you think of driving in Italy you think Ferrarai and Maserati.  Visions of flying along the autostrade, the envy of other motorists, are the things of daydreams.  You don’t think DUI.

But in Italy drinking more than one glass of wine puts you at risk of getting a DUI.

Italy is the land of great wine and great wine tastings.  Wine tasting tours are offered in cities and towns all over the country.  I like wine, no I love wine and I love wine tastings.  I especially love tasting wine in Italy whether I am in Tuscany or Sicily.  But I never drink and drive in Italy, or anywhere in Europe for that matter.  What better way to ruin a vacation than getting stopped for a DUI or worse being in a car accident and being charged with a DUI.

Be forewarned, Italy like most of Europe has very strict drinking and driving laws.

In Italy you can be considered under the influence with a blood alcohol level of .5 mg of blood alcohol.  In other words more than one glass of wine or one beer and you risk going over the limit.  And this is an Italian glass of wine not the bowls of wine we call a glass here in the states.

The penalties for getting convicted of a DUI in Italy may be as simple as a fine all the way up to vehicle confiscation and imprisonment.  The penalties for driving under the influence are dependent on a number of factors including whether you own the car you are driving (it may be confiscated) or whether you are under 21 (the penalties may be doubled).  Drivers involved in accidents are often given a Breathalyzer and the penalties may also be doubled if the driver is found to be over the legal limit.

Think ahead and plan ahead.  Even a minor penalty would put a damper on your Italy vacation.

If you are drinking – walk, take a train, hop on a bus or call a cab.  Even small towns and villages have car services available to help you get from a restaurant, bar or private home back to your residence be it a villa or a hotel.  You may not feel drunk, but that does not matter, it’s your blood alcohol level that is important not whether you can walk a straight line or talk without slurring your speech.

The laws for drinking and driving in Italy were updated in June of 2013 so make sure you know what they are before you have a drink and get behind the wheel.

If you are given a ticket and fined for being over the legal limit just pay it.  It is not worth ruining your vacation over a fine, just chalk it up to lessons learned, absorb the cost and move on.  For more severe penalties you may need to find an avvocato which is Italian for lawyer.

If you are going to get behind the wheel of a car in Italy whether it is a Ferrarai, a Maserati or a Fiat wait until you get back to the place you are calling home during your stay in Italy before you have a drink.

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