Healthplan Spain


What's The Drink Drive Limit In Spain? Expat Tips

In Spain, a country renowned for its vibrant culture and spirited festivities, there exists a sobering issue that poses a significant threat to public safety: drink driving. Each year, countless lives are tragically lost or irrevocably altered due to the reckless decision of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. Despite the implementation of rigorous legal measures, alcohol remains one of the predominant risk factors frequently associated with traffic accidents in Spain. According to a report by the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT), approximately 30 to 50 percent of fatal incidents involved drunk drivers.

With its rich social fabric and diverse regional traditions, Spain has long celebrated conviviality and revelry. However, the amalgamation of Spain's cultural penchant for festivity and the misuse of alcohol has contributed to a disconcerting upsurge in drink-driving incidents across the nation. This dangerous behaviour not only endangers the lives of those who partake in it but also puts innocent pedestrians, passengers, and other road users at grave risk.

According to the DGT, the risk of an accident escalates proportionally with an individual's blood alcohol concentration. As the alcohol content in the bloodstream rises, so does the likelihood of a collision. For instance, at a blood alcohol level of 0.5 grammes of ethanol per litre of blood, the risk of a crash doubles, while at 0.8 g/l, it increases fivefold. This risk is further compounded in young drivers or those with limited driving experience, exacerbating the potential dangers on the road.

To tackle the issue, Spanish authorities have implemented stringent legislation and enforcement measures. Striving to strike a balance between prevention and deterrence, Spain has set legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits and implemented regular police checkpoints to detect and deter drunk driving. However, despite these efforts, statistics continue to reveal an alarming number of incidents, highlighting the need for a multifaceted approach to effectively combat this menace.

In this article, we aim to give you all the information you need about the legal limits.

Legal Alcohol Limits:

  • The legal limit for alcohol in Spain is 0.5 grammes of alcohol per litre of blood (equivalent to 0.25 milligrammes of alcohol per litre of exhaled air).
  • For drivers with less than two years of driving experience or professional drivers, the limit is reduced to 0.4 grammes of alcohol per litre of blood (0.15 milligrammes per litre of exhaled air).
  • Individuals under the age of 18 are prohibited from using e-scooters or mopeds if they have consumed any amount of alcohol.
  • The Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT) emphasises that even below the legal limit, the risk of an accident may still be increased, and the only truly safe limit is 0.0 grams per litre.

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.