Spain has taken longer than most other European countries to introduce a drink drive law, but it is now in place, 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.
Routine TestIn fact, if you're driving home at 3am on a Sunday morning, even if your traffic skills are exemplary, it's more likely than not 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!
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 450 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.
Driving BanWhen you receive notification of your fine, you will also probably be informed that your driving license will be suspended for a month. If having wheels 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.
Replacement LicenseThe 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 94 and 1,503 Euros (year 2003 examples), 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.