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Q: Drunk driving in Sweden. ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Drunk driving in Sweden.
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: clicker5-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 22 Nov 2002 23:05 PST
Expires: 22 Dec 2002 23:05 PST
Question ID: 113056
I have heard that Sweden has tougher drunk driving laws then the United States.
If this is true, what laws are tougher then the U.S.?
Does Sweden have less drunk driving accidents (per miles driven) than the U. S.?
(Could data be, miles driven, or number of cars in the country, or what)
Subject: Re: Drunk driving in Sweden.
Answered By: juggler-ga on 23 Nov 2002 01:22 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Yes, it is true that Sweden has much tougher drunk driving laws than
the United States.

In Sweden, driving with a blood-alcohol level of .02 is illegal. 

In the U.S., the blood-alcohol limits are four to five times higher.
In about half of the states, driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08
is illegal. In the other half the states, driving with a blood-alcohol
level of .10 is illegal, while a blood-alchohol level of .08 is
considered evidence of intoxication but not illegal per se.

According to the National Highway and Transportation Safety
"A .08 BAC is not typically reached with a couple of beers after work,
or a glass or two of wine with dinner. The average 170 pound male
would have to consume more than four 12 oz. cans of beer within 1 hour
on an empty stomach to reach .08 BAC. The average 137 pound female
would need at least three cans of beer in one hour on an empty stomach
to reach that level."
From the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration:
As mentioned, Sweden's .02 blood-alcohol limit is four times lower
than limits in the U.S., so obviously much less alcohol may be
consumed prior to driving (legally) in Sweden. Moreover, penalties for
drunk driving in Sweden are severe. Sweden considers a .10
blood-alcohol limit "aggravated" drunk driving. Imprisonment (of up
two years)  is the recommended punishment for driving with a .10
blood-alcohol limit. The result of Sweden's tough drunk driving laws
has been a reduction in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
For more information and details, see the report,  "An Evaluation of
the Swedish Drunken Driving Legislation Implemented on February 1,
1994" by B. Borschos, available in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format on the
Vägverket web site:
Or html cached by Gooogle:

Another report, "Changes in drunk-driving among Swedish youth," also
by B. Borschos, concluded that Swedish teens were less likely to drive
drunk after the tough legislation was implemented in the 1990s.
"Although some evidence suggests that youth alcohol consumption has
increased, the number of reported DUI offences committed by them has
decreased at least in the 1990s." From a summary on the Finnish web

Also see "Fact Sheet on Sweden" in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format on the
web site of the Swedish Institute:
Also available in html, cached by Google:

So how does Sweden compare with the U.S.?

According to the National Highway and Transportation Safety
Administration, 3.3%  of Sweden's fatal traffic accidents "were
suspected by police of alcohol involvement (official statistic)" 
while "18% had alcohol based on fatally injured drivers autopsied."
Even the 18% autopsy-based figure is less than half the 38.6% rate of
alcohol involvement for traffic fatalities in the United States.
See the report, "Alcohol Involvement in Fatal Crashes" on the NHTSA
web site:

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 39.8% of traffic
deaths were alcohol-related. From the report: State-By-State Traffic
Fatalities - 2000,1056,2336,00.html

As for the issue of the data being expressed in terms of miles driven,
or number of cars in the country, I did find some related data that
showed that Sweden still comes out on top when you look that traffic
accidents in this way.  The European Union compiles a statisic called
"fatalities per billion passenger kilometers." Since Europe uses the
metric system, the data is expressed in kilometers rather than miles.
This statistic measures the number of accidents for every billion
kilometers driven by citizens of a particular country. If you look at
a report called "Traffic Accident Fatalities" by the European
Environment Agency, you'll see that in "figure 3 - Fatalities per
billion passenger kilometers," Sweden has the lowest rate of fatal
traffic accidents in Europe. Although this statistic is not based
solely on alcohol-related accidents, there's almost certainly some
connection since alcohol is involved in such a high percentage of
traffic accidents in most countries (as detailed in the NHTSA reports
mentioned above). The EU report is available in PDF (Adobe Acrobat)
format on the EU's web site:

search terms: sweden, "blood alcohol", traffic fatalities, drunk
driving, drunken driving, bac, accidents

I hope this helps.
clicker5-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thank you juggler.
I rated you with 5 stars.

Subject: Re: Drunk driving in Sweden.
From: mwalcoff-ga on 23 Nov 2002 16:19 PST
Two things to add:

1) The U.S. federal government is applying pressure on states to lower
their BAL to .08, if they haven't already. Many other countries have a
BAL of .05

2) Every American should note that Sweden has achieved its success in
reducing drunk driving with a drinking age of 18.

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