Now, I understand all of the below is ill advised, I'm just curious as to the legality of it.

Unlike in the US, to my knowledge, the UK has no open container laws. It's perfectly legal for every person in the car bar the driver to be blind drunk and continuing to drink as long as they aren't causing a nuisance to the driver and are wearing a seatbelt etc.

The threshold for drink-driving in the UK is also based off of blood alcohol content and is reasonably high compared to other countries: one can be fairly sure that a reasonably sized person could have two beers and probably still be under the limit.

So, is it illegal to drink those two beers whilst driving as long as one's BAC remains below the legal limit?

2 Answers 2


As a driver, you are not permitted to do things that reasonably impact your ability to steer and react while driving. If it wouldn't be called out explicitly, then operating a phone would fall under this general provision. However, consuming any drink is not generally considered one of those acts... as long as you don't do so in a way that risks you losing control of the car. Any act that risks losing control would be negligent. For example, consumption of extra hot coffee from flimsy cups risks pouring hot coffee over your lap, and such has to be avoided. Similarly, using a bottle as a knob on the wheel is not allowed, because you could block the wheel and steer off the road.

Now, in general the allowed BAC at the wheel is 0.5 promille. That's not too bad. Yet that limit is when you do not engage in any act that might be considered endangering traffic. If you do, the limit falls to 0.3. If you are generally a bad driver, or the method of how you hold the beer impacts your driving in such a way... you have to deal with the lower limit. If you still manage? all ok.

But even if you don't break the 0.5/0.3 promille, and something happens, you are in for pain: the mere fact that you have consumed any alcohol can give you a partial fault for the accident.

Also remember, if you're below 21 or have had your driving license for less than a year, you have a 0.0 limit anyway.

  • Thank you for your input, but given that this answer is for Germany, it doesn't really answer my question Apr 17 at 9:28
  • @ScottishTapWater please read law.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1707/… - such answers are explicitly encouraged.
    – Trish
    Apr 17 at 10:03
  • My comment wasn't aimed at discouraging your answer, more trying to explain why I wasn't marking it as accepted Apr 17 at 10:12

You can also get punished if you have passengers that are so drunk that it is not safe to transport them in your own car, and they create a dangerous situation. And you can get punished if a court decides you were drunk enough not to be able to drive safely, even if you didn't exceed a legal limit.

I don't think it makes a difference legally where you drink alcohol, but if you have a bottle of beer and drunk half of it then it seems likely you will drink the other half as well, and police might stop you from driving with that half full bottle.

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