Drinking and Driving in Spain

Drinking and Driving in Spain. The laws on Drinking and Driving in Spain are stricter than the UK,  in Wales, Northern Ireland and England the drink-drive limit is 0.8 mg/ml of blood, and 0.5mg/ml of blood for Scotland. The generic maximum alcohol limit in Spain is 0.5 grams per litre of alcohol in the blood and 0.25 milligrams per litre of alcohol breathed out.

For new drivers, the maximum limits are 0.3 grams per litre of alcohol in the blood and 0.15 milligrams per litre of alcohol in the breath.

For professional drivers, throughout the Spanish territory, the limits are 0.3 grams per litre of alcohol in the blood and 0.15 milligrams per litre of alcohol in the breath.

Police remind people that cyclists, scooter riders and even pedestrians can be required to undertake an alcohol level test if involved in an accident, with penalties the same as car drivers if over the limit  (without points, of course).

Alcohol checks are frequent on the roads of Spain, normally conducted with a breathalyser at the roadside initially, although those findings can always be backed up with blood tests if needed.

By law, if you are asked to take a breathalyser test when requested and refuse the penalty is 1,000 euros , withdrawal of 6 points and you could even face up to 1 year of imprisonment.

It’s impossible to say exactly how many drinks this equals as it is different for each person and the way alcohol affects you depends on: your weight, age, sex, and metabolism (the rate your body uses energy), the type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking, what you’ve eaten recently even what your stress levels are at the time.

Remember, alcohol can have an immediate effect, but that effect can also linger, so even if you have left the car at home because you are going for a “heavy” night out, you may still be over the limit, and affected by alcohol, the morning after.

It is always best simply to not drink and drive full stop, but here are the acceptable limits:

The information below is supplied by the DGT.

For men typically weighing between 70 and 90 kilos the following levels are legally acceptable:

Beer—5% strength, one 33 cl or small beer “tercio”, a second one will take a driver close or over the limit

Wine—12% strength, two normal-sized glasses (100ml) is the maximum you can safely enjoy

Spirits—23% strength, two small glasses (45 ml) is your limit

For women typically weighing between 50 and 70 kg:

Beer—5% strength, one 33 cl or small beer “tercio”, a second one would result in a fine

Wine—12% strength, one and a half glasses (100ml) is your limit

Spirits—23% strength, just one will do you before taking the wheel.

Penalties for Drinking and Driving

Spain applies a points system to Spanish driving licences. Depending on the result you will get one of these penalties;

If the result of the test is between 0,25 and 0,50 mg/l. You will face a 500 euros fine and a loss of 4 points.

If the result of the test is over 0,50 mg/l, you will face a 1000 euros fine and a loss of 6 points.

If the result of the test is over 0,60 mg/l, you will have committed a criminal offence, therefore, there will be a trial and the judge will ban you from driving for a long period of time. Besides, there will be a heavy fine depending on the test result and the damage caused (in case of a traffic accident).

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.

Note -

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.

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