Mexico Drinking & Driving Laws

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The age limit for drinking is lower in Mexico, but the consequences are similar.
The age limit for drinking is lower in Mexico, but the consequences are similar. (Image: mexico city general view image by apeschi from Fotolia.com)

The legal drinking age in Mexico is lower than it is in the United States, but that doesn’t mean the enforcement of drunken driving is any less strict. Since 2007, a new driving points system and police checkpoints have increased the punishment for drunken driving in Mexico.

Legality

In Mexico, one is legally allowed to drink at 18 years old and the legal level of intoxication is having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent. Also, if a non-Mexican citizen attempts to enter the country after a recent conviction of driving under the influence, he might be refused entry because Mexico’s Immigration Act considers a DUI on par with a felony.

Penalties

Being arrested for driving while drunk can result in jail time of at least 24 hours and fines up to $2,500. In Mexico City, police set up roadside checkpoints decked with cameras so all interactions are recorded on central computers. Should a drunken driver be caught, besides jail time and applicable fines, up to three points are taken from the person’s driving record. Two offenses within a year are punishable with at least a three-year license suspension.

Alcohol Regulations

It is permissible to transport alcohol in a car. Passengers can also drink alcohol as long as the driver does not. U.S. citizens must carry a driving license at all times, and only the owner of a car or the renter is legally allowed to drive it at any time. Excessive drinking is also illegal on sidewalks and other public spaces.

Safety

Should you be driving in Mexico, even if you are obeying the law and not driving drunk, there is no guarantee that the drivers around you are following the same code of conduct. Be careful during night because many people drive without their lights on. And if you are driving through a city, be especially aware of drivers and pedestrians near bars or liquor stores.

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