Ralph in Rawai asks: We hear a lot of talk in the bar about drinking and driving limits, or lack thereof in Phuket. But surely, there are legal limits. What is the maximum alcohol blood level that would be enforced at a police check point, with a breathalyzer test, for example? How many beers can I have within a given time period and still be within the legal limit to drive?
Patong Police Traffic Chief, Ekkarat Plaidoung answers: In Thailand, the standard Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is set at 0.05 per cent, which means you are legal if there is no more than 50 mg/dl of blood, which can be tested through both blood or breathalizer test. In normal circumstances, 50 mg/dl means about two glasses of beer, so in general, you should try not to go above this.
If you plan to have fun at night or think that you can not control your vehicle well, I recommend to take a taxi or go with friends, with a designated driver. Otherwise, should you be stopped and tested, the penalty for having more than 50 mg/dl can be up to three months in jail or a fine of not more than B60,000, or both a fine and jail. Drunk driving charges are determined by the police, but the final penalty will be decided by the court, which could be as mentioned by the law, or some times, you may just have to do community service. Of course, the worse outcome from drinking and driving is an accident in which you kill or injure someone, which could result in much higher penalties.
Note from the editor: Conventional wisdom says that one standard drink (a small beer, glass of wine, or a shot) per hour should usually keep one’s BAC level at or just under the legal limit. However, this is not a concrete measure, and “impairment” depends on a number of factors, including age, gender, rate of consumption, drink strength, body type, metabolism, hydration, emotional state, medications you’re on, fat and muscle content, and of course alcohol tolerance.
And while the law applies BAC as a standard for enforcement, this alone does not indicate whether one’s driving ability is impaired. For some, a single drink may be enough to impair driving ability for hours, while others may be able to drink all night, and yet are able to maintain a safe, straight line. That said, Class Act Media does not endorse drunk-driving (or drunk-dialing at 2am for that matter). Stay safe. Don’t become a statistic.
BAC legal limits by country (per cent)
Hong Kong: 0.05
EU (most countries): 0.05
South Africa: 0.05
New Zealand: 0.08
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