Drinking and Driving Laws in Dubai or UAE: Drivers Must Comply with the Law to avoid Strict Punishment

Drinking and Driving Laws in Dubai or UAE and How to Avoid being Punished

It’s a crime for anyone to drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, anything that affects the person’s motor ability. The penalties are severe and can even include imprisonment. Since this is a complex subject, we’ve prepared a series of articles on this topic. This article covers the basics of what you need to know about drinking and driving laws in Dubai or UAE. If you drink and drive, you risk injury or death to yourself and innocent people who share the road with you.

There are strict rules when it comes to drinking and driving under the influence in Dubai or UAE. However, that does not mean you cannot drink liquor or alcohol in Dubai. There are regulations to the ways of drinking, which apply to both residents and tourists in Dubai or UAE.

Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations

Driving under the influence or intoxication in Dubai is a crime. Drunk driving is a crime because alcohol could affect your judgment, coordination, and ability to drive. How drunk or high you depend on the following conditions:

  • How much have you drunk
  • The amount of food consumed before drinking
  • How long you have been drinking
  • Bodyweight
  • Gender

The fastest way to get sober is by letting your body absorb the alcohol to decrease your level of intoxication. The body absorbs alcohol at an average rate of one drink per hour.


Alcohol is served in various licensed restaurants and bars linked to hotels as well as designated stores. Public drinking is also prohibited, and one needs to have a drinking license to purchase alcohol. However, in specific restaurants and bars, you can drink without an alcohol license. But it is wise to have one.

An alcohol license is essential because you can get arrested outside the approved places for drinking if reported or found drunk and behaving disorderly in a public area. Most culprits are caught when they are involved in a car accident or ask for assistance from authorities when under the influence. It is important to remember that you are liable to punishment if caught drunk in public places, even with an alcohol license. The license is your ticket to buying alcohol and not a free get-out-of-jail card for breaking the laws.

Drinking and Driving Laws in Dubai and the UAE

This article revolves around UAE Traffic Laws related to driving under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or any other drug and the penalties.

Federal Law governs UAE Traffic Laws No. 21 of 1995 as amended by Federal Law No. 12/2007 “Concerning Traffic.” This law also specifies the penalties for traffic crimes and procedures related to it.
Under Article No. 10.6 of the Traffic Law, drivers are to abstain from driving any vehicle under the influence of alcohol or narcotic substance. This is independent of whether the consumption of alcohol or narcotic substance is legal or illegal.

There is zero tolerance for drunk driving with regards to UAE legal practice. Do not drink and drive. It is believed that the driver is incapable of controlling the car properly, and there is a high risk of a car accident.
Article-No. 10.6 of the Traffic Law provides in toto: “the driver of any vehicle shall refrain from driving while under the influence of wine, alcohol, narcotic substance or anything of the like.”

Punishment for drinking and driving in Dubai or UAE

Under Article No. 49 of the Traffic Law: the punishment for any driver caught drinking and driving includes; imprisonment and a minimum fine of AED 25,000. The penalty is subject to the fact that the person was driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver may also be arrested under the charges of Article No. 59.3.

The court may impose additional penalties. They include, among others:
Suspension of driver’s license for a period not less than three months and not exceeding two years. The driver is also restrained from getting a new license for a further period after the expiry date of the suspended license under Article 58.1 of the Traffic Laws.

If the lawbreaker has been convicted by the court and judgment passed, a copy of the judgment is required. This is meant to verify punishment, but at no cost can the term exceed the outlined penalty as per the law.
Regardless of campaigns conducted and warnings issued, there is still an alarming number of people who still drink and drive. Why? Well, most people think they can manage their drinking while behind the wheels. Others believe they are good judges as to whether or not they can drive or not.

As for others, they may vow not to drive after drinking, but under the influence of alcohol or narcotic substances, they make the wrong decisions. The other lot of people are carefree of what happens and the risks they will face if they are driving intoxicated. They are overconfident with their driving skills and think they are untouchable.
The consequences of drunk driving are not good and attribute to 14% of the deadly road accidents in a year.

The number of drunk drivers has been gradually rising over the decade, and with the holiday season around the corner, the number may skyrocket. If you are reading this, you are one of the many concerned people worried about their friends and relatives who drink and drive.


To aid in deterring drinking while driving, the UAE government promulgated laws regulating and sanctioning alcohol consumption and possession. It is still illegal in the UAE to drink alcohol without a license, but the rules significantly changed on November 7, 2020. Consumption of alcohol by both residents and tourists is no longer a criminal offense if done in private. However, a person must still be at least 21 years old to legally drink in the UAE.
However, an alcohol license is still required for tourists and expatriates for venues such as hotels or private clubs. Nevertheless, drinking on the street or public area is prohibited. Also, for expatriates, the purchase of alcohol must still be made through specializes stores.Drinking and Driving in the UAE

What you can do:

During the holiday season, you can socialize together with friends and relatives and after that hire a cab. Alternatively, you can have your own designated driver or instead drink in a residential home where you can rest after that as the alcohol levels dropdown. When morning comes, everyone can go home safe and sound.

If not, try a ‘dry’ night out where everyone limits themselves on how much they will be drinking. You can try planning fun interactive games where everyone could participate. For holiday plans, you can book a hotel or restaurant where alcohol is not sold and, in case of events, hold parties that do not involve drinking.

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