Don’t Drink Drive! Christmas Drivers Beware

Filed under : Criminal Law

Owing to the high mortality rate on our roads in Spain and with the objective of reducing the number of traffic accident victims, the
criminal law has been modified and the penalties increased. This is
specifically relevant to us all at this time of year. Spain used to be notorious for its lax road safety laws and people abused this fact.
This is not true anymore.

 The penal law code has identified new traffic safety
offences and has made the consequences of a breach of these laws more severe.

The new regulations appear in articles 379 – 385 of the
Penal Code. The main changes encompass:

Breaking the speed limit:

With the new regulations it is a criminal offence to exceed
the maximum speed limit permitted of 60km on a city road (suburban streets) or
of 80km on an out of town road (streets between urbanised areas).

The penalty can be up to 6 months imprisonment. Evidence
must be however, provided by radar.

Excess alcohol:

The maximum permitted is 0.60 mg of alcohol per litre of
breath. It is not necessary to demonstrate the influence of alcohol when the
test has proved an excess 0.60mg.

However, if the level of alcohol recorded is between 0.25
and 0.60 mg per litre of breath, that can still be an offence but the police
would have to prove the influence of alcohol on an individual’s driving.  

It is impossible to say how many units of alcohol are safe
to consume before driving as there are a lot of factors that affect each person
differently. These factors include:

your age,

your weight,

your metabolism (the way your body breaks down alcohol),

the amount you have eaten, and

the type of alcohol you've had to drink.

Even one unit of alcohol (such as half a pint of lager or a
small glass of wine) could take you over the legal limit, even though you might
feel unaffected.

So, the “just one drink” may be a real problem for drivers
and road safety, so the best advice is not to drink any alcohol at all before
you drive.

The sentences dictated according to the penal law code can
be up to 1 year in prison. And the refusal to take an alcohol test results in
the same consequences as testing positive.

It is important to remember that once it is proved that the
driver is over the limit of 0.60mg the Guardia Civil (Civil Guards Force) will
proceed to arrest the driver and place them under a judicial disposition. The
driver would then be brought before the court, within the maximum time of 72
hours. It is possible, though, that you could find yourself in a cell if the
arrest takes place at the weekend.

 It really is best to book a taxi or take the bus or arrange
a lift with a non-drinker.

 Reckless driving:

That is, those who drive recklessly and therefore
consciously or knowingly putting another road user’s life in danger. The most
serious form of recklessness, if convicted, will lead to a maximum prison
sentence of 5 years together with a suspension of the driver’s licence for 10

These are just some of the new traffic offences that we wish
to emphasise and bring to your attention. We recommend that you exercise caution
and common sense on the roads of

Spain & the islands and apply fully the now old adage “Don’t drink and drive.”

 However we recognise that anyone can make a mistake and if
you find you have any traffic problems De Cotta McKenna y Santafé will be able
to assist you in a professional and effective way.

The team of lawyers at De Cotta McKenna y Santafé has 25
years of experience of helping the English speaking communities in Spain with their legal matters in Spain.

For more information on this subject, or to make an appointment for a
private consultation, please contact us at De
Cotta McKenna & Santafé

Tel.: +34 952 931 781
Fax: +34 952 933 547