Spain took longer than most other European countries to introduce strict drink drive laws, but they are now firmly in place and made stricter from time to time, so imbibers beware! Couple these rules with the fact that many Andalusian roads require your undivided attention, and you can be sure that drink driving is no joke in these parts.
It's a well-known fact that when it comes to alcohol, everyone has their own particular level of tolerance, although - given their smaller frame and slower metabolic rate - women often come off worse. And you don't need to have been drinking all night to trigger a positive response if you're "breathalysed". A shared bottle of wine with your dinner, followed by 'one for the road' in a piano bar, and you could only too easily find yourself over the limit.
In fact, if you're driving home at 3am on a Sunday morning, even if your traffic skills are exemplary, it's not unlikely that the Guardia Civil will pull you over as a matter of course and ask you to take a breath test. If it proves positive, retribution - though not swift - is certain!
Alcohol Driving Limits
Spain's drink driving laws are stricter than the UK. In Spain the legal limit is 0.5mg of alcohol per ml of blood. In the UK, the limit is 0.8mg. Spanish rules also dictate that new drivers have to adhere to lower levels. In March 2022 limits were revised slightle. They are
- Newly-qualified drivers: 0.3 grams of alcohol per litre of blood and 0.15 milligrams per litre of exhaled air.
- Professional drivers: 0.3 grams of alcohol per litre of blood and 0.15 milligrams per litre of exhaled air.
- Other drivers: 0.5 grams of alcohol per litre of blood and 0.25 milligrams per litre of exhaled air.
The fine for exceding these limits is 500 euros and the loss of four points from driving licence. If a driver is caught for the second time in a year, the fine is 1,000 euros.
The fine for exceding 0.50 mg/l in exhaled air (0.30 mg/l for newly qualified drivers and professionals) is 1.000 euros and the loss of six points from driving licence.
It may take six months before you receive a registered letter informing you that you have 15 days in which to pay a fine of maybe 750 Euros (reduced by 30% for swift payment). During this time you are allowed to continue driving. Your Lawyer or Gestor may be able to represent you, but if not, and if you don't speak Spanish, it is advisable to take an interpreter with you when you go to the Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico.
When you receive notification of your fine, you will also probably be informed that your driving license will be suspended for a month. If having a car is vital to you, perhaps because of your job, you can plead your case in writing - substantiated by as much legal documentation as possible - when perhaps three months later you receive another registered letter in connection with the suspension.
Another three months or so, and you'll receive a further notification informing you of the outcome of your plea. Although the one-month ban is not negotiable, you may be able to divide it into two 15-day periods, or even four 7-day periods (you can choose the dates to suit you best), but you'll have to forfeit two additional days for the privilege.
The period(s) during which you are not permitted to drive will be noted on the back of your driving license, but once your penance is complete, you can take a new set of photographs to the Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico and they will issue you with a 'clean' replacement license.
Driving while banned will result in a fine of between 500 and 3.000 Euros , together with a further suspension for one year. And if you are foolish enough to try to get away with it a second time, your driving license will be permanently withdrawn… definitely not a risk worth taking.