Alcohol and drugs

The effect of alcohol

Drunk driving is a serious traffic offence. Do not drink and drive! According to Swedish law, a driver with alcohol level of 0.2 per mille or more in the bloodstream is guilty of drunk driving and the penalty is up to 6 months imprisonment. If a driver’s alcohol level in the blood stream is 1 per mille he is deemed guilty of aggravated drunk driving and may get imprisonment for up to 2 years. One may be deemed guilty of aggravated drunk driving even if the level of alcohol in one’s bloodstream is less than 1 per mille. This may happen if an accident occurred as a result of drunk driving, or if this driving behavior triggered a risk of accident.

Remember that even a small amount of alcohol has an affect on your brain. Here is how alcohol affects you:

  • Provides a false sense of confidence
  • Impairs coordination
  • Increases reaction time
  • Makes you take risks easier
  • Affects your judgment of speed and distance
  • Reduces your overall driving ability
  • Makes you feel brave and may change your usual driving behavior


The key point here is that ANY amount of alcohol impairs your ability to drive safely!

If you are going to a party where you are planning to have some alcohol, you should plan in advance how you will go back. A simple decision to take a taxi instead of driving yourself may save lives.

It is impossible to know how much alcohol it is ‘safe’ to drink before driving. That is because the extent to which alcohol affects you is depending on many things, such as your weight, your gender, your state of health. It also depends on whether you have been eating anything while or before drinking, whether you were tired, whether you had a good sleep the night before, etc.

Some people think that there are ways 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.


The effect of medication

You can get ‘under the influence’ not only after drinking alcohol, but also after taking medication. Always check the instructions/packaging of your medication to see if it can affect your driving ability. Medications that may impair your driving ability are usually marked with a red triangle. Even if there are no listed side effects that would impair driving ability, but after taking the medication you feel tired, dizzy or unwell, you should refrain from driving. Also note that combining certain medicines can also increase the effect of either of them, which can also have negative consequences for the driving ability.

You may be deemed guilty of drunk driving if you pose a danger to other road users due to the effects of medication, even if your doctor prescribed it to you. You will also be deemed guilty of drunk driving if your blood contains a narcotic substance (unless this was prescribed to you by a doctor). Even if the medication does not have a red triangle, you should decide whether you feel well after you take it. If you feel any side effects that would make you a worse driver – do not drive!