This week, there will be an intensified safety campaign on the roads of Spain, focusing on one of the main contributors to vehicle incidents, alcohol and drugs.
The campaign will run from Monday through to Sunday with Guardia Civil officers out in force on the roads, carrying out random spot checks, as well as creating special drug and alcohol checkpoints.
According to statistics from the DGT, alcohol is present as a concurrent or triggering factor in a third of all fatal accidents. Their presence can multiply the risk of an incident by up to 15 times.
There has been a significant decrease in the percentage of positive tests between 2001 and 2013, down from 5% to 1.7% in that time, although the aim is to reach a figure of below 1% of drivers at the checkpoints. In 2014 there were 46,000 more tests conducted than the previous year, with a 13.6% reduction in positive results.
Drug use on the other hand had seen an increase, although new legislation has meant harsher penalties, and so the impact on reducing the use of drugs by drivers is starting to improve, with figures showing some 11% of drivers tested were on some kind of banned substance, with cannabis and cocaine the two substances most frequently found.
Regardless of the effect on drivers, alcohol and drugs also pose a risk to pedestrians, mainly in urban areas, which makes the participation of all municipalities in this Special Campaign of extraordinary importance.
Spain has one of the lowest permitted alcohol rates in Europe, significantly lower than the UK for example, although the only real safe amount of alcohol to consume before driving is zero.
The legal alcohol limit is in general 0.25 mg/l (or 0.15 mg/l if you are a learner driver / professional drivers). If the amount of alcohol exceeds this limit, the driver will be heavily fined and lose several points.
In the event such amount of the breathalyzer exceeds 0.60 mg/l, the driver becomes subject to a criminal proceeding and will be arrested.
A blood test is only available when you have completed the standard test and you disagree with the result. Refusal to co-operate is also considered a criminal offence.
Remember, the responsibility for alcohol and drug consumption lies with the driver and the only safe limit is zero.
The fines for being caught are significant, but the worst result for driving after consuming alcohol or drugs is death, not only of the driver, but the passengers and other road users as well.