Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence of alcohol is prohibited if a certain percentage of alcohol is measured in the blood or breath. Driving under the influence of alcohol is not a misdemeanour but a crime (art. 178 jo. 176 WVW). The penalties for committing a crime are higher than for offences. You could therefore be heavily punished if you are caught behind the wheel with more alcohol than permitted. The percentages with which it is forbidden to drive are lower for beginning drivers.
Experienced drivers & drivers of non-motorised vehicles & drivers of motorised vehicles without a driving licence
It is prohibited to drive or allow a driver to drive a vehicle after consuming such alcohol that:
- a check reveals the presence of more than 220 micrograms of alcohol per litre of exhaled air, or
- there is more than 0.5 milligram alcohol per millilitre blood in the examination.
For a man that often means 2 glasses of alcohol within 1 hour and for a woman about 1 glass of alcohol. The liver takes on average 1 to 1.5 hours to break down a standard glass of alcohol. This is, of course, an estimate. Alcohol affects everyone differently, and it also depends on which alcoholic beverage is consumed.
For a driver of a motor vehicle for which a driving licence is required, and:
- less than five years have elapsed since the date of issue of the first driving licence; or
- the first issue of a driving licence concerns a licence issued to a person under the age of 18 at the time of its issue and less than seven years have elapsed and that first issue took place on or after 30 March 2002, different percentages shall apply.
It is in that case forbidden to drive that motor vehicle or allow it to be driven if such alcohol has been consumed:
- more than 88 micrograms of alcohol per litre of exhaled air; or
- more than 0.2 millilitres per millilitre of blood.
Persons who fall into the latter category are therefore punishable even with less alcohol.
For novice drivers, men reach the alcohol limit at around one glass. Women reach the limit with less than 1 glass of alcohol, about 0.5 glass.
This stricter rule also applies to two other categories of drivers. Firstly, for drivers of motor vehicles to whom a driving licence has not been issued for the driving of that motor vehicle, although it is compulsory. And secondly, for drivers of motor vehicles who are obliged to participate in the alcolock programme.
Furthermore, in special cases, you may also be liable to punishment if you are under the criminal alcohol limit and you are driving a vehicle
Dangerous driving & accidents
In addition, dangerous driving and driving in such a way that, through your fault, an accident resulting in death or physical injury is also punishable. This is important in the context of driving under the influence of alcohol. This is discussed further in the explanation of punishments & measures.