What are the risks of drink driving in Poland

Drink driving is extremely irresponsible and very dangerous. Drunk drivers are a threat to themselves, passengers, pedestrians and other road users. With new imposed legislation it will also be more expensive. Although we know that drinking and driving is dangerous. It is important to be aware of the full range of consequences that we may incur. What are the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or other forms of intoxication after the changes to the amendment of the Polish Highway Code in 2022 (click)? The new road law came into force on the January 1st 2022, although some of the changes will not come into force until September 2022. Let’s start without further ado.

State after using alcohol and intoxication.

What is the alcohol content in the blood?

Before we talk about the fines of drink driving in Poland. Let’s first refer to the two states defined by Polish law, we can distinguish the state after the use of alcohol and intoxication on the base of BAC.

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the percentage of alcohol that’s in your bloodstream after you’ve been drinking. Your BAC, rather than the exact amount of alcohol you’ve consumed, will determine the effects the alcohol will have on you.


To calculate BAC, the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is measured in milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 milliliters (ml) of blood. It is usually expressed as a decimal such as 0.08 or 0.15. For example, a BAC of 0.10% means that an individual’s blood supply contains one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood.

Source: verywellmind.com
  • state after using alcohol (offence). From 0.2 to 0.5 mg of alcohol in the blood (from 0.1 to 0.25 mg of alcohol per litre of exhaled air);
  • state of intoxication (crime). More than 0.5 mg of alcohol in the blood (more than 0.25 mg of alcohol in a litre of exhaled air).

What is the penalty for drink driving in Poland?

As noted above, driving under the influence of alcohol, if the alcohol level does not exceed 0.5 mg, is considered a violation offence. This means, that you can be punished with a 30-day detention. However in a majority of cases it is just a fine. Nevertheless, we should be prepared for a serious fine. The amount of such a fine after the amendment to the regulations equals PLN 2,500 and 10 penalty points. It is worth noting one more thing. Namely, from 1st January 2022 due to the new Highway Code 2022 regulation’s, the maximum fine amount that can be imposed by the court has increased by six times. Currently, it is as much as 30,000 zł. This is just the beginning.

A lot will change from 17th September 2022. From that day on, as much as 15 penalty points (currently 10 points) will be added to our licence for driving in a drunk state. If you re-offend within a 2 year period with the same or similar offence (driving under alcohol or other similarly acting substances), the minimum fine will doubled to PLN 5,000. However, the provision concerning the prohibition of driving motor vehicles does not change. It is still a period from 6 months to 3 years.

Drink driving while under the influence of alcohol

At least so far, not much has changed for drivers caught driving while being intoxicated. If you drive a car under the influence of alcohol and your blood content exceeds 0.5 per mg, then it is considered a crime (!) for which you will be punished with:

  • a fine depending on income (from 10 to 540 zlotys daily rate; to 10 to 2,000 zlotys daily rate), restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to 2 years;
  • a driving ban for a period of 3 to 15 years;
  • PLN 5,000 to PLN 60,000 for the Victims Aid Fund and Post-penitentiary Assistance.

Of course, it cannot be ruled out that the sanctions for drink driving will also be tightened. In addition, you should bear in mind that not only driving under the influence, but also other road offences will affect the amount of the obligatory liability (OC) insurance policy. These changes will enter into force on September 17, 2022. The more penalty points we have on our licence, the higher rate of civil liability will be. Of course, taking into consideration other important factors. For example age of the driver, driving license time, insurance history, engine capacity, etc.).

Driving a car under the influence of alcohol or other substances and causing an accident

Drink Driving in Poland - Prison
Drink Driving in Poland – Prison

Understandably, these are the highest penalties for causing an accident under the influence. The consequences vary depending on whether there are any fatalities in the accident, i.e .:

  • no fatalities – imprisonment up to 4.5 years; driving ban from 3 to 15 years; financial sanction in the amount of PLN 10,000 to 60,000;
  • with damage to health or causing death – imprisonment from 2 to 12 years; lifetime driving ban; financial sanction in the amount of PLN 10,000 to 60,000;
  • with fatalities – imprisonment from 3 to 12 years; lifetime driving ban; financial sanction in the amount of PLN 10,000 to 60,000.

In addition, if we cause an accident under the influence in which another person/persons are injured or we have destroyed another vehicle, the insurance company and the Insurance Guarantee Fund may apply for the reimbursement of amounts paid to the injured parties (the so-called recourse).

Will there be a confiscation of the car for drink driving?

Drink Driving in Poland Car confiscation
Drink Driving in Poland – Car confiscation

As we can see, we have a lot of a changes, especially in the area of ​​driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs. However, at least for the time being, we do not have any regulations stating that driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs will be subject to confiscation of the vehicle (yet). Perhaps such a law will not come into force at all. Nevertheless, the act has to go through the legislative process first. Why am I mentioning it? Originally, it was assumed that the vehicle would be picked up when the person driving the vehicle had at least 1.5 per mg of alcohol in their blood. If, on the other hand, he was driving someone else’s vehicle, he would have to return the equivalent of such a car to the state treasury.

Summary of drink driving in Poland

In conclusion, it is certainly not worth getting behind the wheel if you are uncertain of the amount of alcohol still in your body. In case of doubt, if possible, conduct the sobriety test with a good, calibrated breathalyzer, the day after the party, before getting behind the wheel.

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Special thanks to Eamon Gosney, who has helped with proofreading of this article.

gdynia.policja.pl; autobaza.pl; verywellmind.com



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