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Drinking and Driving:

The blood alcohol content limit in Italy is set at 0.05%. Not only do police have the option of requesting that a driver take a breathalyzer test, they can also request that medical services conduct their own tests to determine intoxication by either alcohol or narcotics. Fines, vehicle confiscation, license bans and imprisonment can all be used to punish drivers who drive impaired.

Seat Belts:

Seat belts must be worn by drivers and passengers, whether they are sitting in the front or back seats. Allowances are made for pregnant women who can present a note from their obstetrician-gynecologist on their official letterhead, and for people who have a note from their doctor on their official letterhead indicating that wearing a seat belt will cause a contraindication in their medical care.

Cell Phones:

Telephones are only allowed to be used hands-free. Headsets and Bluetooth capability through car speakers are both acceptable. You are not allowed to dial a number or otherwise look at your phone while driving; you must be pulled over or parked in a parking space.

Navigation Aids

Navigation aids such as GPS are legal in Italy, and many car rental companies offer the rental of GPS software with your car. Keep in mind that you must be parked to input addresses on the GPS; you cannot access the GPS to select options or input addresses while driving. The definition of `while driving` includes times when you are idling in traffic. You can be cited by a traffic cop if you are caught, and made to pay a fine.

Speed Trap Detectors:

Radar detectors are illegal in Italy, but you will find that GPS technology notes the presence of police on the roads, which is legal.

Driving Age:

To drive in Italy, you must be over the age of 18. Most car rental companies bar anyone under the age of 21 from renting a car. A few will make exceptions for drivers 18-20 as long as they have held their driver`s license for at least twelve months. Note that people under the age of 25 renting cars will incur a surcharge.

Using Indicators:

Turn signals are necessary to use in Italy. Keep your turn signal on until the turn or overtaking is completed. Unlike in the U.S., Italians use turn signals to indicate intent, meaning that they are not asking permission to change lanes when using the turn signal, they`re telling you they`re going to do it just before they complete the action. Italians will take turn signals into account as actions about to be performed, so don`t turn the signal on too early.


Overtaking is done in a left lane, with the car being overtaken on the right. On roads with just three lanes, overtaking can only occur when there is no car coming from the other direction already occupying the middle lane. You cannot overtake a vehicle that is in the process of overtaking another vehicle, nor can you overtake a vehicle that has stopped to permit pedestrians to cross. You can`t overtake when approaching a railroad crossing, when at road bends, at the top of hills, at intersections, at junctions, or where visibility is limited. If a road is too narrow for two cars to pass safely, the smaller car must reverse. While on a mountain road that may be narrow, the descending car must reverse to allow the ascending vehicle to pass safely.


When approaching a roundabout give way to traffic already on the roundabout, on your left, unless signs indicate otherwise. Keep in the interior lane until your turn is immediate. Practice defensive driving as many drivers enter the roundabout with urgency and perhaps low regard for others.


Dipped headlights must be used on all roads with two or more lanes, including during the day. Dipped headlights must be used during times of poor visibility on all roads.

Good Samaritan:

Italy`s Good Samaritan Law is referred to as `omission of relief` and means you can be charged with a crime under the Italian Penal Code if you do not alert the authorities and wait for help to arrive if you are in a car accident, whether the other party is injured or not. Dial 112 for police or 118 for ambulances.

Losing Your License:

If you lose your home license, its translation, or your International Driving Permit, you will not be permitted to drive in Italy.

Fines for Motoring Offenses in Italy:

It is most common to receive fines for speeding, parking in a non-designated area, or driving in a pedestrian-only area. Italian police are very aggressive about collecting fines, and have a year to issue fines. This means you can, and in many cases will, receive fines months after you return from your trip. With Italian bureaucracy being very slow, you might notice an extra charge on your credit card bill levied by the car rental company long before you will receive a fine notice in the mail. Don`t think Italian police won`t send you a fine notice to your American address long after you have left Italy. You have 60 days from receiving the fine notice or 30 business days from receiving the credit card charge to resolve the fine, whichever comes first. Ignoring the fine is not advisable, because the fine will double and the credit card company will find a way to extract the money from you, even if you go as far as to cancel your card. In short, take fines and fine notices seriously even if you have long returned from Italy, and even if you don`t plan on returning to Italy any time soon.


Special restraints must be used for children who are under 97 pounds (36 kg) or under 4 feet 9 inches (150 cm) in height. If the child is under 48.5 pounds (18 kg), he or she must be placed in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. Children larger than that but under 97 pounds must use a booster seat in conjunction with seat belts.


If you are in an accident, be sure to put on your reflective vest before exiting onto a motorway. Place the warning triangle behind your car at least 50 feet away from the accident, preferably closer to 100 feet. Call 112 for police and 118 for an ambulance if you need medical assistance. Take pictures of the accident scene if possible, and exchange insurance information with the driver of the other vehicle. The police will arrive and will take statements from both parties. Read the official report the police file before signing it. You may request a copy of the report for insurance purposes. In the event that the car accident only results in damage of property and not harm to either party, both parties may sign an insurance form called a CAI. Do not sign a CAI if you and the other party do not agree to the sequence of events. A lawsuit must be filed within three months of the date of the accident should you choose that avenue of resolution.