Filed under : Criminal Law

Sadly the Christmas season is not complete without stories of drink/driving and increasingly of drivers who are banned or fined for driving while under the influence of drink or of drugs such as cannabis or cocaine. As some of you are aware, Spain has rather strict drink driving laws, allowing a mere 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood.
This is less than some European countries but estimating the amount of alcohol it represents is not possible. This is because it depends on many factors such as whether you have eaten and your weight, height etc. The limit is even lower for those who are professional or newly qualified drivers. A very high percentage of drivers caught drinking and driving have had little or nothing to eat for many hours before being stopped.
One thing that is certain is that if you have been drinking alcohol you will not know if you are over the limit until you are stopped and breathalysed. If you have had a small amount of alcohol and are within the range of 0,25 to 0,50 there is still a sanction of 500€ and 4 points are taken from your licence. For those caught with a level of more than 1,2 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood there can be prison sentences or community service sentences passed and the driving licence can be removed for 1 to 4 years.
More serious offences can lead to much higher fines and even permanent removal of your licence. Statistics for 2013 to 2014 for Spain taken from the DGT website show some 20,000 drivers lost their licences in a one year period for losing all of their points and some 50,000 drivers had their licences temporarily suspended.
There is now a central record for those whose licence has been removed and both the United Kingdom and Spain are exchanging information digitally so anyone found guilty of driving whilst banned faces an even heavier penalty.
Challenging a relatively small fine and deduction of points might not be worthwhile. However each case should be treated on its merits and a lawyer may need to represent your particular case in court where the consequences are more serious. There may be circumstances where the particular facts need to be presented to the court and there might be evidence from CCTV cameras or witnesses. A lawyer – abogado – experienced in these cases should be instructed as in Spain it is not possible to represent yourself in more serious cases. You need a lawyer and a court procurator to act for you and if you do not speak Spanish you will be entitled to an interpreter in court.
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