Drink Driving In Singapore: A Law Firm’s Guide

Written by Team Farallon

  • Farallon Law Corporation
  • February 4, 2022


Drink driving is the act of driving while intoxicated. Alcohol inhibits a driver’s ability to discern danger and retain full control of the vehicle, thus posing a danger to himself and other road users. In Singapore, an average of one person is killed each month due to drink driving.

With alcohol impairing the judgment of drivers, Singapore has in place various laws concerning drink driving.

What is the Offence of Drink Driving in Singapore?

Under Section 67 of the Road Traffic Act, you are guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol if you:

  • Are unfit to drive under the influence of alcohol to the extent that you are incapable of retaining proper control of the vehicle; or
  • Exceed the legal alcohol limit

Under the drink-driving laws in Singapore, the legal alcohol limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath or 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

First Time Offenders

First-time offenders of drink driving can generally expect a fine between $2,000 and $10,000 and disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving license for at least 2 years.

In the event that a first-time offender for drink driving gets into an accident and causes physical injury and/or property damage, an imprisonment term not exceeding 12 months will usually be imposed. In addition, they can be charged with another offence of:

  1. Reckless or dangerous driving under Section 64(1) of the RTA; or
  2. Driving without due care or reasonable consideration under Section 65(1) of the RTA.

Repeated Offenders

Repeated offenders will face a compulsory jail term of up to two years in addition to a fine amounting to between $5,000 to $20,000. The offender will also be banned from driving for a minimum of five years.

What are the Maximum Offences of Drink Driving?

If you are convicted of drink-driving for the first time, you face a fine of $2,000 to $10,000 and/or up-to one year in prison. Repeat offenders face fines ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, as well as up to two years in prison.

For at least two years, offenders will be prohibited from holding or getting a driver’s license (or at least 5 years for repeat offenders), unless the court finds that there are compelling reasons to order a shorter period of disqualification (or no disqualification at all). If the offender has also been convicted of risky or careless driving, the period of disqualification may be extended.

What are some considerations before deciding on the appropriate penalty?

The Court takes two key factors into consideration when assigning the penalty to the convicted offender.

  1. The nature and degree of actual/potential harm that has resulted from the offence.
  2. The guilt of the offender who committed the offence.

The nature and degree of actual/potential harm that has resulted from the offence

The court will look into the degree of harm. There are 4 main categories: Slight, Moderate, Serious and Very Serious.

  • Slight harm constitutes having no hospitalization or medical leave required for minor or moderate property damage and/or minor physical harm.
  • Moderate harm is characterised by serious property damage and/or moderate personal injury requiring hospitalization or medical leave, but no fractures or long-term injuries.
  • Serious harm means that there are fractures involved, inclusive of injuries that are permanent in nature and may require surgical procedures.
  • Very serious harm means there is a loss of limbs, sight or hearing or life. It also includes paralysis.

The culpability of the offender

The culpability of the offender is determined by two main factors:

  1. The extent to which the offender exceeded the prescribed legal limit of alcohol intake by.
  2. The manner of the offender’s driving.

There are 3 levels of culpability:

  • Low culpability is equivalent to a low alcohol level (35 – 54 microgrammes per 100ml of breath) and there is no evidence of dangerous driving behaviour.
  • Medium culpability is defined by a moderate to high alcohol level (55 – 69 microgrammes per 100ml of breath) or there is evidence of dangerous driving behaviour.
  • High culpability is equivalent to a high alcohol level (>70 microgrammes per 100ml of breath) and exhibited dangerous driving behaviour by the offender.

What are the defences to a Drink Driving Offence in Singapore?

The accused can be considered not guilty under Section 71A of the Road Traffic Act if he can prove that he had consumed alcohol only after he had stopped driving or stopped attempting to drive.

Another defence is to contest the result of the Breath Evidential Analyser (BEA), which is done after failing the initial breathalyzer test. The offender will be required to demonstrate, using expert evidence, that:

  • The breathalyzer findings were tainted by the inhalant or medication he used (Note that driving under the influence of medication can be an offence)
  • The BEA machine was not well-maintained, calibrated, or working properly.

A problem with this defence is that the trial might take months, if not years, following the arrest, and the machine could have been calibrated or repaired in the interim.

Frequently Asked Questions

Must I give a blood or breath sample if asked by the Police?

It is required by law to do so. If the individual, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with the authority’s request, they will be treated as having committed the offence of driving while drunk according to Section 70 (4) of the Road Traffic Act.

I was not driving. The car is parked but why was I arrested by the Police?

Even if you are not the driver of the vehicle, you may still be considered guilty If you are in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

According to Section 68 of the Road Traffic Act, any person who is in control of a vehicle on the road or in a public place, but is not driving the vehicle, is guilty of an offence if:

  • The person is unsuitable to drive because he is too inebriated to effectively control the car or because his blood or breath alcohol level exceeds the legal limit.

It is worth noting, nevertheless, that a person isn’t deemed in charge of a vehicle if:

  • The person had not driven the car between the time hhe became unfit to drive; and
  • At the time of arrest, there was no possibility that he would drive the vehicle.


Drink driving is a dangerous act, posing danger to the driver and road users around him. There should be travel arrangements made in case the driver is intoxicated such as booking a Grab. It is possible to consult a legal expert on legalities relating to drink driving.

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