DRINKING AND DRIVING IN SPAIN
Spain has strict drink driving laws, these are stricter than the UK where the limit is 0.8. In Spain, you’re no longer considered fit to drive when your blood/alcohol concentration exceeds 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (or 30mg for drivers with less than two years’ experience and professional drivers).
The amount you can drink and remain below the limit depends on how much you normally drink, your sex and your weight.
Penalties for Drink Driving
Spain applies a points system to driving licences. Spanish residents (including non-Spanish nationals who hold an NIE number) are issued with 12 points initially. If a driving offence is committed, points are deducted from the licence according to the severity of the offence. When no points remain, the licence is cancelled and the holder must go through a re-education process to get it reissued.
The Spanish authorities cannot deduct points from a non-Spanish EU licence. For this reason, they may insist on a licence exchange in order to deduct points from a licence when the holder has committed an offence.
The penalties for driving with a blood alcohol level of over 0.5 g/l can include:
- A fine of between 301 and 600 euros
- Deduction of six points from the driving licence
- Suspension of driving licence for three months
A minimum fine of 1000 euros applies if a person:
- Is more than double the drink drive limit
- Is a reoffending drink driver
- refuses to take a breathalyser test
- Is found driving while under the influence of drugs
The penalties for driving with a blood alcohol level of over 1.2 g/l can include:
- A prison sentence of between three and six months or
- A fine and between 31 and 91 days of community service
- Suspension of driving licence for between one and four years
To maintain the safety of other road-users, police will confiscate the vehicle of a driver who has been found under the influence of alcohol. An exception is made if a passenger holds a valid driving licence and is able to take control of the vehicle. If the police confiscate a vehicle, the driver is liable for the costs of towing and storage. These costs must be paid before the vehicle is released.
It is compulsory for non-residents to pay fines immediately, in cash. If this is not possible, the vehicle will be confiscated.
Payment of Fines
Fines are payable through the Traffic Department (Dirección General de Tráfico, DGT) website, by telephone (by credit or debit card), in some banks and at post offices (Correos). Additional fees may be charged to cover administrative costs. Fines paid within 20 days of issue benefit from a reduction of 50 percent.
Refusing to co-operate is also a criminal offense - Drivers who refuse to take a breath test are liable to a prison sentence of 6 to 12 months and a loss of six points. Note that the same regulations apply to cyclists, although they don’t lose any points!
A blood test is only available after the breath test if you disagree with the result.
If you have an accident while under the influence of alcohol, your car and health insurance could be nullified. This means that you must pay your own and any third party’s car repairs, medical expenses and other damages, which could run to millions of euros.