While drinking and driving anywhere usually attracts strict penalties, drunk driving laws, including punishments, vary by country. Even though Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have a zero-tolerance policy on drunk driving, many visitors, including expatriate workers, are unaware of the UAE Drink and Drive Laws.
UAE Drink and Drive Offence in the UAE
For some visitors, the allure of Dubai and UAE’s lively nightlife quickly becomes a nightmare when they are arrested for drinking and driving. A drunk driving offence in the UAE can have adverse implications, including imprisonment, hefty fines, driving license suspension, and confiscation of your vehicle. Whether you are a resident or a visitor (tourist), there are many reasons why you should not drink and drive in the UAE.
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 them.
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 regard 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 or causing injury to another.
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.”
Alcohol or Drug-Related Driving 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 are depends on the following conditions:
- How much have you drunk
- The amount of food consumed before drinking
- How long have you been drinking
- Your Bodyweight
- Your 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.
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 offence if done in private. However, a person must still be at least 21 years old to drink in the UAE legally.
UAE’s Law On Drinking And Driving
While it is not a crime to consume alcohol in the UAE, the country has some stringent laws on drinking in general, especially drunk driving. For instance, it is illegal to drink in public, including on the street or without a license. You should also be at least 21 years old to consume alcohol in the UAE.
As a tourist or an expatriate, you still need a license to drink alcohol, even in venues like hotels and private clubs. Additionally, you should only purchase alcohol from specialized and licensed liquor stores. Generally, UAE’s strict drinking laws are meant to deter drunk driving.
With drunk drivers causing approximately 14% of all road accidents in the UAE, the country has very strict Traffic Laws. With drunk drivers threatening their safety and other road users, strict laws, including severe penalties, help curb the destructive habit. Under UAE’s Federal Law No. 21 of 1995, drunk driving is a punishable criminal offence.
Accordingly, the law requires individuals to avoid driving any vehicle when drunk or under the influence of alcohol or any other narcotic substances. The individual should abstain from driving regardless of whether the consumed substance is legal or illegal.
Additionally, the UAE regularly amend its traffic laws to reduce traffic casualties on its roads. Drivers Must Comply with the Law to avoid Strict Punishment.
Penalty For Drunk Driving In The UAE
According to Article No.49 of the UAE Traffic Law, a drinking and driving offender is subject to:
- Imprisonment, and or
- A fine of not less than Dh25,000
A police officer can also arrest a driver according to Article No.59.3 of the Traffic Laws if they suspect or find the driver is guilty of:
- Causing death or injuring another person as a result of drunk driving
- Reckless or improper driving
- Losing control of a vehicle as a result of driving while under the influence of alcohol or any other narcotic substance
Additionally, the court can also suspend the driving license of a drunk driving offender for a period of between three months and two years, depending on the severity and nature of the offence. Under Article No.58.1 of the Traffic Laws, the court can deny the individual the chance to get a new license even after the expiry of the suspended one.
Regardless of the strict penalties and ongoing campaigns, many people in the UAE, especially non-nationals, still drink and drive. However, it is in your best interest to avoid driving while drunk. Besides the obvious dangers, UAE severely punishes drunk driving offenders.
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 the 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 wheel. 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 in their driving skills and think they are untouchable.
You also risk making your UAE stay extremely hard as you can lose your driving privileges once you have been convicted of drunk driving. Call us now for an urgent appointment to have a legal consultation at +971506531334 +971558018669
Before a Case of Drink-and-Drive arises, be careful
Like many people living in the UAE, you probably relocated to the country due to its excellent business and employment opportunities. The country’s warm weather and exceptional living standards were perhaps the other attractions. However, a drunk driving conviction can jeopardize your dream and turn your stay into a nightmare. There are serious consequences of drunk driving in the UAE.
Besides fines and imprisonment, having your driving license suspended or your vehicle confiscated can adversely affect your life, including business endeavours. You also risk losing your current job. Whether an expatriate worker or a resident, a drunk driving conviction also reduces your job options. For instance, it might be hard to get a job in some industries, including the hospitality industry.
Accordingly, you should consider hiring a cab or having a designated driver every time you go out to drink with your friends or relatives. Alternatively, you should consider drinking in a residential setting, including your home, where you do not need to drive after a night of drinking. You can also consider limiting your drinking or stopping drinking altogether.
Typically, a night of drinking and driving should not jeopardize your UAE dreams, especially as a tourist, an expatriate worker, or a businessman.
What is the punishment for driving without a license in UAE?
According to the new rules in the UAE, driving without a license can result in a fine of 50,000 dirhams or up to 3 months in jail. Repeat offenders face harsher penalties, such as increased fines and longer jail time.
Driving without a license is a serious offence, and those found guilty may also have their vehicle impounded until they can take their driving test and obtain a valid license.
In an official tweet, the Public Prosecution said that according to Article 51 of Federal Law No. 21 of 1995 regarding traffic and its amendments, those who drive without a licence could be liable to a fine of Dh6000 up to Dh50,000 and/or up to three months in jail.
What are the traffic fines related to driving licenses in Dubai?
- Allowing others to drive a vehicle for which they are unlicensed (Dhs 500)
- Violating the terms of the driving license (Dhs 300)
- Driving a taxi without a required license (Dhs 200, 4 Black Points)
- Driving with an expired driving license (Dhs 200, 3 Black Points)
- Driving an unlicensed vehicle (Dhs 200, Vehicle confiscated for 7 days)
- Not showing driving license when required (Dhs 200)
- Not carrying a driving license while driving (Dhs 100)
Drivers Must Comply with the Law to Avoid Strict Punishment
It’s a crime for anyone to drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or anything that affects the person’s driving ability. The penalties are severe and can even include imprisonment. 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.
If you are facing a Drink-Drive Charge in Dubai, Hire a Lawyer
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the major causes of road accidents in the UAE. DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) are common charges, especially in the UAE. We specialize in handling cases of drunk driving, speeding and other types of traffic violations. The penalties for violating the UAE’s laws regulating the use of alcohol and driving can be steep and affect your reputation, work, and even family.
At Amal Khamis Advocates & Legal Consultants, we help people who have been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.
We provide legal assistance for DUI and DWI cases in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, and all over the United Arab Emirates. We are one of the best legal consultancy firms in Dubai, providing legal consultancy for criminal cases, family, real estate, and litigation matters.
With extensive experience and knowledge of all aspects of Dubai drink and drive laws, our drink and drive lawyers have a thorough understanding of them.