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Spanish Alcohol Laws

What are the legal consequences of being caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Spain and what happens after being arrested?

Especially when a criminal accusation could be made, there are certain details which are to be taken into account. Under Spanish alcohol laws, Criminal proceedings may follow in two cases, according to the Spanish Criminal law:

  1. In all cases when the breathalyser test rate exceeds 0.60 milligrams per litre;
  2. Secondly, when –  even if the rate is below 0.60 milligrams per litre (or in those cases when no test can be carried-out), the driver’s faculties are clearly affected by the ingestion of alcohol or drugs and it affects the driver´s ability to drive.

Most of these criminal proceedings end with the signing of an agreement with the Prosecutor, the driver admitting his fault and accepting a penalty with a reduction from the initial charge. The lawyer representing the driver would negotiate the best possible agreement, which would need to be ratified by the driver, with the assistance of a translator if necessary.

This does not mean that it is not possible to defend these kind of charges before the Court and to obtain a dismissal of the charges. For this purpose, it is essential that the lawyer in charge of the road traffic offence case has studied in depth the documentation included in the file: in most of these cases, formal defects committed by the Officers or the Court during the process could be the best option for the defence strategy. Those formal mistakes could affect the statements and formal report issued by the officers (called “atestado”), the revisions and certificate of the breathalyzer, or the Court notifications, amongst others.

Finally, it is important to underline that it is not recommended to refuse to take the breathalyzer test. If the driver refuses to complete the test, it would constitute an independent criminal offence, in addition to the previous one, causing further complications.

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Gary Bennett (Jun 09, 2021)

Road Traffic Offences

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1Who is this Service for?

One of the most common situations for English-speakers abroad is being stopped by the police for some type of infraction of the rules of the road.

Such offences range from speeding to death by dangerous driving, so the sentences that can result are equally varied.

Most important is having a lawyer who understands you and who will know how to mitigate any sentence that may be levied.

2What does this service consist of?

  • Discussion with an experienced English-speaking lawyer to determine the nature of the charges
  • Preparation of the defence/negotiation with the prosecutors
  • Representation in court – where required
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