Ask the Expert: Drinking and Driving in Tuscany

Everyone seems to have a glass of wine or an aperitivo in Italy and then drive home. So what exactly are the laws on drink driving in Italy?
[Photo Credits: astro twilight http://ow.ly/gVsmI]
[Photo Credits: astro twilight http://ow.ly/gVsmI]
As in most countries, when driving in Italy one must always be aware of the drink driving laws.  These were updated in July of this year making penalties for driving whilst under the influence of drink (or drugs) more severe than ever before.   The penalty varies according to the level of alcohol found in the bloodstream: 1. 0.5g – 0.8g per litre carries a fine of between €500 and €2000 plus a driving ban of between 3 and six months, 2. 0.8g – 1.5g a fine of between €800 and €3200, a driving ban of 6 – 12 months and up to six months imprisonment 3. above 1.5g a fine of between €1500 and €6000, a term of imprisonment of 6 – 12 months and a driving ban of between 1 and 2 years with the possibility of this ban being doubled if the driver is not also the car owner.
[Photo Credits: Angelo Amboldi http://ow.ly/gVsFm]
[Photo Credits: Angelo Amboldi http://ow.ly/gVsFm]
In the third instance, a further problem arises if the driver is the owner of the vehicle as that vehicle is immediately confiscated by the police and subsequently sold at auctionwith the proceeds going to the state.  This is the case even if you are on holiday in Italy and driving your own car which your brought from home.  It does not however apply if you are driving a hired car since you are not the owner although the other sanctions remain the same.  It is often the case that driving licences are removed at the scene and returned only at the end of the period of the ban.  In the event of an accident, drivers of vehicles involved are routinely breathalysed and if the driver at fault is found to be over the legal limit for alcohol, the penalties may be doubled, especially if he/she is under 21 years of age. All things considered, readers should be very careful about that extra glass of wine when driving in Italy. Avvocato Giovanni Battista Santini, the author of this article, attended the University of Florence before travelling widely.  He currently operates from three offices: Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Lucca and Florence The information is correct at January 2011 Article taken from The Tuscan Magazine