Make sure you know the rules when it comes to drinking and driving, and what penalties a driver might suffer…
In Spain, driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence and measures are taken to ensure that all drivers adhere to the rules. The legal maximum limits are:
- A blood alcohol level of 0.5 grams per litre
- A breath alcohol level of 0.25 miligrams per litre
- A blood alcohol level of 0.3 grams per litre, if the driver has been in possession of a licence for less than two years
- A breath alcohol level of 0.15 miligrams per litre, if the driver has been in possession of a licence for less than two years
Drivers are obliged to submit to a breathalyser test when requested by a police officer:
- If the vehicle was involved in an accident
- If the driver is suspected to be under the influence of alcohol or other substances
- If the driver has broken a law, such as speeding
- At a random control point (control de alcholemia) set up by the police.
The breathalyser test provides an analysis of how much alcohol is in a person’s blood and breath. Refusal to provide a sample for a breathalyser test can result in a fine (multa) and the deduction of six licence points.
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.
While EU driving licences are valid in Spain, 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.