Norwegian Language Blog

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Don’t drink and drive in Norway Posted by on Nov 7, 2008 in Uncategorized

Not that I encourage driving while intoxicated here in the United States, or anywhere for that matter, but be extra careful if you are out having a good time in Norway and you are the driver.  Norwegian law states that an individual with a BAC (blood alcohol content) at or over .02% is over the legal limit.  In the United States, any number equal to or greater than .08 is considered over the limit.  As you can see, Norway is much stricter when it comes to drinking and driving.  Many countries in the world have a legal limit of .08, but the only country greater than that is Swaziland (0.1).

In the United States, a DUI or DWI (depending on the circumstances-speed, other cars involved, etc.) usually merits a ticket, a fine, and a court hearing.  An individual can get multiple DUIs and not ever go to jail.  In Norway, on the other hand, every offender goes to jail for a minimum of 3 weeks if he/she is caught driving with a BAC above .02.  There is a prison in the small village of Ilseng (near Hamar, which is in the southeastern part of the country) where drunk driving offenders spend time.

I personally think that Norway has done it right once again.  Norway has very few problems with drinking and driving compared to the U.S.  Despite the fact that there are much fewer people in Norway and fewer people driving cars because of the excellent public transportation, the low instance of drinking and driving in Norway can be greatly attributed to the strict legal limit and the serious consequences.

When I was in Norway, people were very considerate of this law.  Very seldom did I know about someone driving after they had had more than one beer.  It’s pretty cool how much people respect it.  Friends simply take turns being designated drivers.  So when you’re in Norway in a similar situation, remember to be smart and take turns driving sober.  Don’t want to get stuck in jail for 3 weeks!

And now for some related Norwegian vocabulary…

å drikke= to drink             drikker = drinks         drakk = drank

alkohol = alcohol               øl = beer                     vin = wine

brennevin =  the general term for distilled spirits-literally means “burnwine”

full = drunk               bakfull = hungover (apparently not in my dictionary, but Norwegians use this)

brus = pop (if you are the designated driver)

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Norwegian:

    fyllesyk (or fyllesjuk) can also be used instead of bakfull

  2. Mark Mcgreevey:

    We have a big time drunk driving story here in San franvisco. It is the granddaughter of Iver Nyche, son of a big Norwegian shipping company who came to the USA in 1920’s.

    Kirsten Anderek is an unemployed 30 year old, trained as a teacher, driving with a B AC of .16 at 8:30 in the morning. She hit two boys and one is still in critical condition a week later. She is out on bail $200,100.

    Imagine if she were in Norway! Chaingang roadwork in Lapland!