Drink drive law in Scotland

Some folk aren’t sure what the rules are when it comes to drinking and driving in Scotland. That’s maybe because the law changed quite recently or because it’s different down south. Here’s everything you need to know about the drink driving laws in Scotland:

  1. Plan ahead to avoid drink driving
  2. Before you even consider having a drink, think about how you’re going to get home. Is there a safe bus route? Or what about putting a taxi number in your phone? Even better if you manage pre-book one before the night even begins. There are also services such as scoot that will come to your car on a foldaway scooter and drive you home.

  3. It’s not okay to drink (any amount) and drive
  4. ‘I’ll just come for one. I’ve got the car’… To be honest, you probably shouldn’t be drinking alcohol at all before driving. In Scotland, the limit is 50mg per 100ml of blood. The breath alcohol equivalent being 22mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. So, this often means that just one drink could put you over the legal limit for driving.

  5. More than 20,000 drivers are stopped by the police every month
  6. The sound of a siren, the blue flashing lights, and a police officer in uniform knocking at your window – what now? Police statistics show that roughly one driver is stopped every two minutes in Scotland for all kinds of reasons.

    The Police have a commitment to breathalyse any driver who has been stopped for:

    • any moving traffic offence (e.g. using a mobile phone, a faulty brake light, not wearing a seatbelt)
    • they suspect has been drinking or taking drugs
    • has been involved in an accident

    So it goes without saying that the Police are cracking down on drink drivers. It’s their job to patrol the roads to keep people safe and reduce accidents on our roads.

  7. The breathalyser never gets it wrong.
  8. If the police want to check whether you’re over the drink drive limit, they’ll do a breath test at the roadside. This is done through a breathalyser which measures how much alcohol is in your system. A breathalyser works on the simple principle that alcohol that’s absorbed through your blood and into your lungs is then found on your breath. So basically, it will be able to tell if you’ve had a drink.

    If you fail the test, you’ll be taken to the police station and given another breath test and then asked to provide a further two more breath specimens into a more advanced breathalyser. This evidence could then be to prosecute later down the line.

  9. The punishments and penalties for drink driving can be severe and the effects can last a lifetime
  10. Drink drivers face a number of penalties depending on the seriousness of the offence which include:

    • Between 3 and 11 penalty points on your licence
    • Fine of up to £5000 for driving, attempting to drive, or refusing a breath test
    • Criminal record (which could make life difficult – we’re talking things like getting a job or travelling to places like the USA)
    • Your car being taken away for good
    • Prison sentence

    Not to mention the impact it can have on your life, your family, and the community. Have a watch of our real-life case study to find out more.

    At the end of the day, you’ve got to ask yourself – is it worth the risk?

  11. If you see someone get in their car when they’re under the influence – you should take action
  12. If it’s someone you know then perhaps the polite suggestion of calling a cab might do it. However, if it’s a stranger, or you don’t feel safe confronting your friend, then you can either alert bar or security staff or call the police. Before you call the police make sure you have a note of:

    • The car registration number
    • Description of the person
    • Description of the vehicle
    • Location

  13. You could still be over the limit on the morning/day after
  14. You can easily still be over the limit the morning after drinking alcohol the night before. It takes longer than you think for alcohol to leave your system. That’s why on every occasion, the best approach is to avoid drinking and driving.

  15. Drug Driving
  16. Drug driving can affect the way you drive in a similar way to drink driving. Drugs affect different people in different ways but, contrary to what many claim, they definitely do not have a positive effect on your driving ability. This applies to illegal drugs and also many medicinal drugs (it’s a good idea to check the patient information leaflet provided with the medicine).


    Drink and Drug Driving. Don’t risk it.