Every breath you take

I don't know if is the case throughout Andalucia - perhaps you can let me know? - but there have been loads of roadblocks around here recently to breathalyse people. We were driving back from going out to lunch on Sunday a week ago, and at a roundabout between two towns, the Guardia were waiting with two patrol cars. Three drivers were sitting in their cars, looking extremely fed-up - I suppose they had been so over the limit that they were waiting for the police to take them down teh station to do a blood test, and for someone to come and collect their cars. My husband, who was driving at the time, hadn't had a drop of alcohol, so he was fine. This is quite a normal time for such a patrol to be out - it was the last Sunday of the holidays, just after Reyes, and many people (most, in fact) have a few beers or glasses of wine with their meal, and maybe a brandy or whisky afterwards. This is a habit hard to break for the Spanish, and the advent of tougher drink-driving laws hasn't made everyone change their ways. Last Christmas, I was breathalysed on my way home from a night out with the girls, and the sheer terror I felt was enough to make me take extreme caution when out. One glass of wine only. When I was out with some friends recently, one (English) girl didn't have even one glass of wine - and it was someone's birthday. Later, we met a Spanish girl who wasn't drinking either. This was a novelty to me - albeit a very welcome one. I'd seen a control just outside the centre of Seville when I was on my way in (I wasn't stopped), so that was enough for me to stop at my usual limit. Any more, and it's a taxi, which will cost more than all my tapas and drinks for the night combined. Then, this weekend, my husband was stopped at 10.30am on Sunday, at a roundabout outside a nearby village, with the two children in the back, and breathalysed again. For those not familiar with Andalucian drinking habits, it's quite normal to have a brandy with your coffee in the morning. If you've already got alcohol in your system form the previous night out, then you're just topping up and will easily be over the limit. We have a theory - that the Guardia have been given targets of money to collect from motorists (more than 0.5g/l is three points on your licence and, most importantly, a 302-602 euro fine; my husband, as someone who recently got his licence back, a novel, has just 0.3g/l - half a small glass of beer). This is a nice little earner for our cash-strapped government. Not that I have anything against stopping people to test them, and the deterrent that this creates; it's just interesting to note the increased amount, and bizarre timing, of controles lately. Do you have more Guardia stopping people where you live? Have you been breathalysed? Was it at a strange time of day? I'd love to hear your experiences, and thoughts on the subject.
Blog published on 17 January 2011