Swedish Minister Resigns after Drink Driving


The Law Of... getting it out of your system

A Swedish government minister has resigned from her post after being caught driving while over the country's legal drink limit. Patrick Campbell, a Motoring Offences Solicitor at Simpson Millar, examines the case and discusses the penalties you could face if pulled over for drink driving.

The Law Of... getting it out of your system

She came to Sweden as a refugee and became the youngest person ever to hold a ministerial position in Parliament, but a lapse of judgement was to see her fairy tale story brought to an abrupt and unexpected end.

Over the Drink Drive Limit

Aida Hadzialic, Sweden's Minister for Upper Secondary School, Adult Education and Training, was stopped in a random police check and found to be over the drink drive limit, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.2 grams per litre. She had consumed 2 glasses of wine 4 hours earlier and expected the alcohol to have left her system by the time she got behind the wheel. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. Commenting on her resignation, Ms Hadzialic said:

"I chose to do this because I believe what I have done is that serious."

She now faces a possible jail term of up to 6 months.

Legal Limits and Penalties

Had Ms Hadzialic been caught with that level of alcohol in her blood here in the UK, she would not have broken any law and would've been free to continue her journey and career unhindered. Sweden has one of the lowest drink drive limits in Europe, whereas the UK has one of the highest. The legal blood-alcohol levels across the continent are as follows:

  • Czech Republic; Hungary; Romania; Slovakia – 0 grams per litre of blood
  • Sweden; Poland; Estonia; Cyprus – 0.2 grams per litre of blood
  • The majority of Europe (including Scotland) – 0.5 grams per litre of blood
  • UK (excluding Scotland); Malta – 0.8 grams per litre of blood

If you are caught driving in the UK with more than the legal limit of alcohol in your blood, you will be charged and taken to court. If found guilty you could receive a:

  • 6 month prison sentence
  • A minimum 1 year driving ban
  • An unlimited fine
  • A minimum of 3 penalty points on your licence (if special reasons are found)

As drink driving is classed as a criminal offence, you will also get a criminal record, with the severity of the sentence depending upon how far over the legal limit you are. Causing a death while your driving is impaired by drink carries much harsher penalties.

Patrick Campbell comments:

"Ms Hadzialic fell afoul of the law because she believed the alcohol she'd consumed was out of her system by the time she came to drive."

"This is a common problem here in the UK, with many drivers getting caught out the morning after a drinking session, believing a night's sleep is enough to clear the alcohol from their system. Although they feel fine to drive, they end up getting pulled over, breathalysed and find they are still over the limit."

"Nearly 1 in 6 drivers convicted of being above the legal limit are caught the morning after. On average it takes your body 3 hours to break down the alcohol in a 250ml glass of wine, and 2 hours for a pint of beer. But even this can vary depending upon a variety of factors, including the individual‘s ability to break down alcohol and the strength of the drink."

"Should you find yourself in this situation we would always urge you to seek specialist legal advice. The implications of a potential disqualification can have devastating effects on both your personal and professional life. At Simpson Millar we adopt a non-judgemental, professional approach and can provide swift and clear answers to any questions."

"Ultimately, if in any doubt, you should leave the car at home, as the penalties for getting caught far outweigh the inconvenience of ordering a taxi or using public transport."

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