Alcohol and drugs

The influence of alcohol

Swedish law stipulates that:

  • if you are driving with alcohol level of 0.2 per mille or more in the bloodstream, you are guilty of drunk driving (in this case you receive up to 6 months imprisonment)
  • if you are driving with alcohol level of 1 per mille or more in the bloodstream, you are guilty of aggravated drunk driving (in this case you may get up to 2 years imprisonment)

You may be deemed guilty of aggravated drunk driving even if the level of alcohol in your bloodstream is less than 1 per mille. This could happen if your drunk driving caused an accident or triggered a risk of accident. 

Never drink and drive! You must understand that even driving a small distance under the influence of alcohol is a great risk. 

It may seem that a small amount of alcohol may not harm your driving ability. This is not true. Any quantity of alcohol affects your brain. Besides, it is not possible to tell what amount is 'safe' to drink before driving. This depends on many factors, such as your gender, your weight, your state of health, the food you ate before drinking, whether you are tired or not, etc. The key point is that any amount of alcohol deteriorates your ability to drive safely. 

How alcohol affects your body

Have you ever thought about how exactly alcohol affects you? You probably noticed that it makes you much more relaxed and happier, but have a look at the following list describing the effect of alcohol on your body: 

  • Alcohol provides you with a false sense of confidence
  • Your coordination is impaired
  • You take risks easier
  • Your reaction time is increased
  • Your judgment of speed and distance is affected
  • Your overall driving ability is reduced
  • Because it makes you feel brave it may change your usual driving behavior

If you are going to a party and plan to drink some alcohol there, you must know how you will be getting back home. Arrange a taxi or ask someone to pick you up, but never drink and drive.

Good to know

Some people mistakenly think that it is possible to speed up the elimination of alcohol from the bloodstream. The truth is, it is NOT possible to speed up the burning of alcohol in the bloodstream. It is useless to try to drink coffee, take a nap, try to vomit, take a sauna or a shower. This will not have any effect on the removal of alcohol from your blood. Even though some of these measures might make you feel better and less drunk, they won’t have any effect on the amount of alcohol in your blood. Also note that if you had a big party yesterday, you should avoid driving the next entire day.

Medications and driving

Not only alcohol, but also some medications can also deteriorate your driving ability. Always check the packaging of your medication to see what are the side effects. Medications that may impair your driving ability usually have a red triangle on their packaging. For instance, some medications can make you feel tired or sleepy after taking them, or impair your concentration ability. Even if you don't find in the instructions any side-effects that would impair driving ability, but after taking the medication you feel unwell or tired, you should not drive. Combination of certain medications can also lead to negative consequences for your driving ability. 

It is good to know that you may be deemed guilty of drunk driving if you pose a risk of accident or danger to other road users due to the effects of medication (even if the medication was prescribed to you by a doctor!) You will also be deemed guilty of drunk driving if the test shows that your blood contains a narcotic substance (unless the substance was prescribed to you by a doctor).

Even if the packaging of your medication does not have a red triangle, you should evaluate your condition after taking it and decide whether you feel well to drive. If you notice any side effects that would impair your driving skills – DO NOT drive!