Tuscany is one of the most popular wine destinations in the world. The best way to get a feel for its different varieties and flavours is going on a wine tour from Florence. Explore the Chianti hills on small country lanes until you come across an interesting winery. Try a glass of their local production and why not buy a bottle for home? But what about drinking and driving in Italy?

The only problem with wine tours is that a traveller could easily go over the legal limit of blood alcohol content. There is nothing like drinking and driving to ruin an amazing holiday in Italy! In recent years, Italy has toughened its laws on drunk driving and consequences can be as far reaching as jail time. Moreover, since 2016, a person can be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter. If the driver is under the state of influence when this crime is committed, the sentencing is very severe.

Girl drinking wine in a Tuscan Landscape | Drinking and driving in Italy

Drinking and Driving in Italy: what the law says

In Italy, you are considered safe to drive if your blood alcohol level is under 0.5 g/litre. The blood alcohol level varies greatly from person to person. It depends on sex, metabolism, age and how much food has been ingested along side the alcohol. Obviously, the more time passes after the last glass of wine, the lower the blood alcohol level gets. Sadly, save carrying a breathalyzer around, there is no sure way of knowing whether you are under the legal limit. As the saying goes: better safe than sorry.

A Carabinieri road block | Drinking and driving in Italy

The police and carabinieri have the authority to stop vehicles for random checks. They will often man road blocks on frequently used access roads to the city centre. The police or carabinieri can check the driver’s blood alcohol level in two different ways:

Option 1: by breathalyzer (alcool test). The person blows on a balloon connected to a machine that measure the amount of ethanol on the breath. The driver has to redo the test after five minutes.

Option 2: by blood test. This method gives a much better reading but the driver is taken to a hospital for the test.

In Italy, you cannot refuse to be tested. Non compliance is considered an infraction and you would be charged as if you had the highest possible alcohol level.

Driving Drunk in Italy: what you risk

Penalties for driving under influence (DUI) start at a blood alcohol level of 0.5 g/litre. Here is a quick breakdown in level of severity of the sanctions and penalties for DUIs:

0,5 to 0,8 g/l

  • 500 to 2000 euro fine
  • withdrawal of licence from 3 to 6 months

0,8 to 1,5 g/l

  • 800 to 3200 euro fine
  • up to 6 months of jail time
  • withdrawal of licence from 6 months to 1 yea

Over 1,5 g/l

  • 1500 a 6000 euro fine
  • 6 months to 1 year of jail time
  • withdrawal of licence from 1 to 2 years
  • impounding of vehicle
  • confiscation of vehicle (unless it belongs to a person who has nothing to do with the crime)

Happy wine drinking | Drinking and driving in Italy

Enjoy Drinking without any Afterthoughts

In summary, don’t drink and drive in Italy! If you love wine and want to enjoy your holidays without worries, book an organised wine tour. Choosing a wine tour has many advantages: you are taken to a great selection of wineries and you can enjoy as much wine as you want without having to worry about getting lost or fined!

Let someone else can be your designated driver. Here are some examples Private and Shared wine tasting tours you can book to enjoy your glass of red without any afterthoughts:

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