5th December 2023
With the Festive Season soon upon us, many of us will be celebrating and going to parties. With this in mind, it is important to be aware of the Drink Driving Rules in Spain. The rules differ from the UK and many European countries. If in doubt, it is better to abstain, appoint a designated driver, use public transport or arrange for a taxi.
Number of Drinks and Blood Alcohol Level:
For Women (weighing 50-70kg):
Beer: Only one 330ml bottle of beer is considered safe, while two or more exceed the limit.
Wine: One 100ml glass of wine is acceptable.
Vermouth: One 70ml glass of vermouth is safe, but a second glass approaches the limit, and a third exceeds it.
Liquor: Drinking one 45ml glass of liquor is permitted, but a second glass may exceed the limit.
Mixed Drinks: Even one mixed drink containing 50ml of alcohol, such as a gin and tonic, can potentially surpass the legal limit.
For Men (weighing between 70-90kg):
Beer: One 330ml beer is considered safe, but a second beer brings you closer to the limit and a third exceeds it.
Wine: Two 100ml glasses are permissible, but a third glass approaches the limit. Similar guidelines apply to vermouth.
Liquor: Two 45ml glasses are acceptable, except for brandy, where one glass is safe, but a second pushes you near the limit.
Mixed Drinks: One 50ml glass of a mixed drink, such as gin and tonic or rum and coke, is deemed safe, but additional consumption may exceed the limit.
Factors Affecting Blood Alcohol Level:
Drink Type: The type of alcoholic beverage affects blood alcohol level, with fermented drinks like beer or wine being absorbed more slowly than distilled spirits like gin, rum, or whiskey. Mixing alcohol with fizzy mixers can accelerate alcohol absorption.
Age: Alcohol tends to affect individuals below 18 and those over 65 years of age more, so they should either consume less or refrain entirely from driving after drinking. New drivers, regardless of age, are also at higher risk.
Drinking with or without Food: Drinking on an empty stomach is discouraged, and it is advised to consume food alongside alcohol.
Time of Day: Elimination of alcohol from the bloodstream is slower during sleep, so consuming alcohol right before bed can lead to a positive breathalyser test the following morning.
Personal Circumstances: Factors such as fatigue, anxiety, stress, or illness can affect blood alcohol levels when consuming alcohol.
Fines and Penalties:
Blood alcohol levels between 0.25mg/l and 0.50mg/l result in a 500 euro fine and the deduction of four points from the driver’s licence.
Blood alcohol level between 0.50mg/l and 60mg/l incurs a penalty of 1,000 euros and a deduction of six points from the driver’s licence.
Blood alcohol levels over 60mg/l may lead to imprisonment for three to six months, one year of community service, and a licence suspension ranging from one to four years.
Repeat offenders with blood alcohol levels below 60mg/l are fined 1,000 euros and have four or six points deducted from their licence, depending on the level.
Refusal to take a breathalyser test can result in a prison sentence of six to twelve months and a licence suspension of one to four years.
Popular myths such as consuming coffee, oil, exercising, chewing gum, or smoking excessively do not effectively reduce blood alcohol levels, as stated by the DGT.
If in doubt, it is better to abstain, appoint a designated driver, use public transport or arrange for a taxi. Don’t take the risk!
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