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Drinking and Driving on the Greek Islands

It is never wise to drink and drive no matter where in the world you live. Driving under the influence of alcohol has been the cause of many deaths and injuries and in Greece it accounts for over 10% of all fatal road traffic accidents. In fact Greece has the highest road traffic fatality rate in Europe regardless of drink-driving. Driving on a Greek Island is hair-raising enough when you are sober let alone when you’ve had a glass of ouzo. Greek drivers are reckless and inconsiderate and some of the island roads wind and twist through some difficult stretches.

The Legal Limit

In Greece you must be 18 years of age to drive a car and 17 years to drink alcohol outside of the home (if you limit drinking to a private residence there are actually no age restrictions. The amount of alcohol you have consumed is measured by the number of milligrams of alcohol for each 100 millilitres of blood. In Greece the legal limit is 0.5 mg, which equates to a small beer. The police don’t need any reason to stop you and initially you may be asked to take a breathalyser test and if this is found to indicate alcohol close to or over the legal limit you will be required to take a blood test. In 2010 EU legislation will come into force bringing the legal limit down to 0.2 mg.

The Penalties

Whilst it may appear that ‘everyone’ is drinking and driving and you may have been told that the police will turn a blind eye, you should not expect leniency if you are convicted of drink-driving abroad and there’s no point in playing ‘the dumb foreigner.’ In June 2007 steeper fines were added to the New Road Code. The exact fine you will have to pay will depend on the level of alcohol in your blood with three categories determining what you pay financially and in terms of penalties; Levels of 0.5-0.8 carry a 200 Euro fine and a penalty of 5 points, 0.8-1.1 brings a 700 Euro fine and a penalty of 9 points along with the suspension of your licence for three months and anything over 1.1 will incur a 1200 Euro fine plus a six month ban the and two months in prison. The Greek police have intensified their fight against drinking and driving over the last few years and this has lead to reduction in the number of offences committed.

Don’t Drink and Drive!

There is no way to condone drinking and driving no matter what the circumstances and there is no way to be totally safe if you do it. Instead be sensible, and either designate a non drinking driver, take a cab or walk.