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According to the information provided by the traffic authorities ‘Dirección General de Tráfico’, in only the first 13 days of July more than 5,149 drivers gave positive readings in the breath tests conducted. A third of fatal vehicle accidents are caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Within the last 12 months more than 20,000 drivers have been detained for these offences.

What is the blood alcohol level?

It is the concentration of alcohol in blood or in exhaled air and this is the amount of grams or milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood or air, respectively.  The maximum concentration in blood is reached within 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion. It is true that the effect of alcohol and/or drugs varies depending on the individual, due to age, sex, weight etc.

What are the limits in Spain?

Generally speaking the limit is 0.25mg per litre of air and 0.5g per litre of blood, although novice drivers and professional drivers are limited to 0.15mg per litre of air and 0.3g per litre in blood.

What are the sanctions?

This depends on the amount of alcohol, if the level is more than 0.60mg per litre of air exhaled, the police or the civil guard will inform the Court, so that legal action can be begun against the accused driver.  Driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be penalised with either 8 to 12 weekends of arrest or a similar fine and suspension of driving from 1 to 4 years.

Penal Sanctions: The offence and the penalty imposed are regulated under the article 379 of the penal code which states: “Whoever drives a motor vehicle or a motorcycle while under the influence of toxic drugs, narcotics, psychotropic substances or alcoholic beverages will be punished with imprisonment of three to six months or a fine of six to twelve months (each day fined with a certain amount to be determined at court)   and if necessary community work from 31 to 90 days, in all cases the deprivation of the right to drive motor vehicles and motorcycles for a period of more than one year and up to four years.”

The breath test is an essential part of the penal procedure, although the Police and Civil Guard reports from the agents present at the time of the offence are also an important factor, as they will explain their actions and the driver’s appearance at that time.

You should bear in mind that both the amount of the fine, the prison term and the time that your license is taken away from you are variable, the court will take into consideration the circumstances of each case.  It is essential that from the moment that you have the test results that you contact your lawyer who will advise you of your rights and assist you in the trial that will be held soon after the incident.

Administrative sanctions: The fine can be up to 601.01€ with your license being taken away for a period of between 3 to 6 months when the offense is considered as serious.

If you have received a penal sanction for conduct, this will not be imposed with the administrative sanction; therefore only in cases where the penal matter is closed without a criminal conviction or where the driver is declared innocent, can the authorities then impose the pertinent administrative sanctions.
Traffic infractions can be constituted as a crime and the offender may have to pay damages for any injury caused regardless of any legal punishment that he may be charged with.

Dangerous driving can also be punishable with imprisonment for between 6 months and 4 years and your license being taken away from 1 to 10 years.

The test

The refusal to submit to a blood or breath test is an offense under article 380 of the Penal Code (in cases where the driver who is involved in a traffic accident refuses the test or where the driver has obvious symptoms of intoxication).

If the breath test is positive the driver has the right to a second test ten minutes after the first. He can equally request that the results obtained from a breath test be verified with a blood test.

The penalty is imprisonment from 6 months to one year and your driving license being taken away for between 1 to 4 years.  As far as the administrative fine for the refusal to take the test, the fine is from 300.51 euros to 601.01 euros, plus the suspension of driving for up to six months.

Our recommendation is to always avoid alcohol in situations where you have to drive, and if you are required to take the test by a law enforcement officer, to do so following his instructions.