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Driving and Autos: Driving Under the Influence

Drunk Driving Laws

The legal blood alcohol concentration in Italy is 0.05 percent. If you have had your license for fewer than three years, however, the limit is zero percent—you are not permitted to drink at all if you are driving. This strict limit is also true for those who drive professionally, such as bus drivers.

There are serious consequences if you are found to have alcohol in your system. As of 2008, the Italian government enacted a new law that allows police to confiscate your car if your blood alcohol concentration is as high as 0.15 percent.

If an accident occurs while you are driving under the influence, your insurance policy will likely not pay for any costs incurred.

The legal drinking age in Italy is 16, and the legal driving age is 18.

Sobriety Test

The Italian police force performs tests at random, and this can happen at any time—although it is more likely to happen during major holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s, and the summer holiday season of July and August.

If you are found to be driving erratically, or if you are involved in an accident, you will be tested automatically.

Refusing a roadside sobriety test is not a good idea. If you refuse, you could be required to pay a fine ranging from €2,500 to as much as €10,000.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

If you are found to be driving while drunk, you face serious repercussions. Among the possible consequences include:

  • Fines of up to €2,000, a month in jail, and community service for those with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.08 percent
  • Six months in jail, fines of up to €3,000, possible car confiscation, and community service for those with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 to 0.15 percent
  • Three years in jail for intoxicated drivers who flee the scene of an accident in which injuries have been caused

Note that jail time is not required as a sentence in Italy; a judge can impose it at his or her discretion.

Drugs and Driving

If you are found to be driving under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, or other drugs, you could face a driving ban of up to a year, 12 months in jail, and/or a fine up to €6,000.

Social Attitudes Toward Drinking

Drinking is seen as an essential part of enjoying a good meal, and the Italians are justifiably proud of their long tradition of wine making. However, drinking is usually seen as going hand-in-hand with eating in Italy; drinking without food is not common and getting drunk is seen as a bit unseemly.