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Drunk driving menace? Not under UAE’s watch.

uae drunk driving

If you think the UAE’s drunk driving laws are severe, think again. Priyanka Pradhan takes a look at the more severe repercussions of drunk driving around the globe.

June 10, 2012 5:57 by

“Three years in jail, a fine between Dh20,000 and Dh30,000, confiscation of your vehicle for two months, confiscation of your driving license for three months and possible deportation.”

Nope, this is not a sentence for culpable homicide. It is the list of consequences one faces for drunk driving, in the UAE. However, for someone who has just moved to Dubai from a city best known for its hearty disregard for traffic rules (Mumbai, India, of course), it seems a tad extreme.

A recent survey conducted by 999 Magazine reveals that 90 per cent or 9 out of 10 UAE residents consider drunk driving as a major road safety concern, with nearly 50 percent of the respondents considering it as a “widespread problem” in the country. Also, more than a quarter of the respondents want a harsher punishment for the offenders(!).

After I quickly jotted this down in the list of totally-scary-things-about-UAE in my diary, I stopped to think if I’m the one who’s wrong here. Zero tolerance towards drunk driving should be a priority for any country and maybe the punishment befits the crime.
I found myself wondering that perhaps I’m the one in need of a reality check. A quick google search for ‘Penalty for drunk driving’ provided some perspective. Consider the following:

Upto 11 months in jail, fine of $1500, License Suspension for one year, Ignition Interlock Device in the vehicle and even litter pick-up for three eight-hour shifts!

A fine of $5000 or 6 months imprisonment and your license revoked. (The fine can be increased upto 5 times for repeat offenders).

Since consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the Kingdom, it is not only considered a traffic offence, but a criminal one. Penalty for drunk driving include fines, imprisonment and even public flogging.


No fines! If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you simply lose your driving license for life, even if you’re a first time offender.

 If you are interested in these fines, have a look at this website. It says in Poland, If you’re caught driving drunk, you will be forced to attend political lectures after coughing up a hefty fine and serving jail time. It gets worse in Australia- The names of the drivers are sent to the local newspapers and are printed under the heading “He’s Drunk and in Jail”. But I guess Malaysia takes the cake when it comes to an effective punishment- not only is the offending driver jailed, but if he’s married, his wife will be jailed with him. Now that’s just diabolical.

In hindsight, UAE’s Zero tolerance policy towards drunk driving doesn’t seem as severe. As long as there is no public flogging, newspaper announcements or the prospect of cooling your heels in jail with your spouse, UAE’s traffic laws are rather acceptable. What do you think? Are the UAE’s laws on drunk driving too stringent? Let us know in the comments section below.



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  1. Bensie Dorien on June 11, 2012 8:32 am

    So all countries are making strict rules for drunk & drive….

    Bensie Dorien

  2. Brenda on June 11, 2012 8:42 am

    Your comment “Nope, this is not a sentence for culpable homicide” is rather unintelligent and melodramatic – what would be the ramifications if a drunk driver killed someone while under the influence? Zero tolerance for alcohol is the way to go and people should either live it, or leave! But thanks for reminding everyone what the punishments are.

  3. Andrew on June 12, 2012 12:58 pm

    The laws themselves are mostly irreleveant, it’s their enforcement. And like with most laws in the UAE, enforcement is poor and consistency is haphazard at best.

  4. Andrew on June 12, 2012 1:00 pm

    Brenda, bit of perspective please.

    Whilst I won’t condone drink driving, I do appreciate that charges and penalties are mostly there to befit the crime that has happened, not might.

    If someone is killed, they’d be charged with culpable homocide/manslaughter and the penalty if convicted is deserved.

    I appreciate the deterrent value, but I don’t think it makes any sense to punish someone for what they might have done.


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