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EXPLAINED: The ways you could lose your driving license in Switzerland

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: The ways you could lose your driving license in Switzerland
What things can cause you to lose your licence in Switzerland? Photo: Pasja1000 on Pixabay

Swiss traffic laws are not necessarily stricter than those in many other countries. But if you live here, you should be aware of the offences that can cause your driver’s license to be taken away.


For most ‘light’ road and traffic-related offences, such as leaving your car in a no-park zone, not paying for your parking, or minimally exceeding the speed limit, you will be slapped with a fine, the amount of which depends on your offence. 

However, if you are caught committing more serious offences, ones that potentially put other people’s safety and lives at risk, your license could be revoked.

So what specific acts could cause you to lose your driving privileges — and for how long?


Whether or not your license is withdrawn depends on how fast you drive and in what areas.

If you exceed the speed limit in residential, built-up areas — in other words, where people live and businesses like shops are located — by 21 to 24 km/hour, your license will be suspended for one month.

If you go 25 km/h or more over the limit, your license will be taken away for three months.


You have a bit more leeway outside of residential, built-up areas. By exceeding the speed limit there by 26 to 29 km /h you could have your license revoked for one month, while driving over 30 km/h means you could lose the license for three months.

On the motorway, going 31 to 34 km/h over the limit will result in a one-month license withdrawal, and it will be revoked for three months if you exceed the limit by 35 km/h.

But that’s not all: if you have already been caught speeding several times, you are likely to lose your licence for a much longer period of time, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Road trip

Photo by Hendrik Morkel on Unsplash

Driving while drunk

No country will look kindly on motorists who operate their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or other dangerous substances, and Switzerland is no different in this regard.

You are not permitted to drive if your blood alcohol level is over 0.05 percent. 

READ ALSO: How visitors to Switzerland can avoid driving penalties

If you are pulled over by police with over 0.08 percent alcohol level, your licence will be suspended for at least three months, and you will also receive a heavy fine; the exact amount will depend on how much you are over the limit.

In case this is a repeat offence, you also face a prison sentence of one to three years.

Causing an accident

If your inattentive driving causes a serious accident, and especially if someone was injured, your license will be suspended for a period of time that will be determined by police and courts.

And if you caused the accident while driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, you are also likely to face imprisonment and a hefty fine. 

By being drunk .... at home

In Switzerland, police can take away your license simply for drinking too much — even if you don't actually get behind the wheel.

One such case has been recently reported in the Swiss media: a man was celebrating the birth of his child with a friend in his own home and, by his own admission, drunk too much.

He ended up losing his licence.

While all this may seem extreme and uncalled for — since the man was not driving drunk — there is, in fact, a legal basis for this action: a ‘safety clause' to prevent people deemed to be unfit to drive, from doing so.

And as our story on the case revealed, he wasn't the only one who lost his licence for being drunk but not driving.

READ ALSO: What you should do if you have a car accident in Switzerland

How exactly is your driving license revoked?

Usually, you will get a registered letter informing you that your license has been suspended and for how long.

You then have a choice of when to send  your license to the local Roads Office: you get a several-month period within which you should give it up. It will then be sent back to you when the penalty period is over.


However, if you are caught driving dangerously fast and endangering others, police can confiscate your licence on the spot. You will also have to be assessed by a psychologist to see whether you are fit to drive at all.

And according to a government site, if you drive at excessive speed, that is, 40 km / h or more over the speed limit in built-up areas, 60km / h or more over the speed limit outside built-up areas, and 80 km / h or more over the speed limit on the motorway, you could lose your license for at least two years, and end up in prison for up to four years.

Additionally, your vehicle could be confiscated and sold.


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