Intensive controls to prevent alcohol and drug-related driving incidents

by Lorraine Williamson

In the midst of festive gatherings during this holiday season, where alcohol often takes centre stage, it is crucial to emphasise that when behind the wheel, the only safe blood alcohol concentration is 0.0%. As such, the DGT launched a campaign which will run until Sunday, December 17.

Alcohol consumption remains the second most frequent contributing factor in traffic accidents, having been involved in 3 out of every 10 fatal incidents in 2022. Shockingly, over half (51.9%) of the drivers who lost their lives on the roads in 2022 tested positive for alcohol, drugs, or psychotropic substances, either alone or in combination.

In light of the upcoming Christmas celebrations, marked by numerous social events where alcohol is prevalent, it is imperative to reiterate that, while driving, a 0.0% blood alcohol concentration is the only safe limit.

Drink and drugs driving campaign

To address this concern, Álvaro Gómez, the director of the National Road Safety Observatory, unveiled a new campaign in Madrid on Monday. Launched by the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT), this campaign will run until Sunday, December 17. It focuses on intensifying surveillance to combat the risks associated with the combination of alcohol or drug consumption and driving.

Gómez emphasised, “Alcohol and drug consumption must be tackled through comprehensive public health policies. In the realm of traffic and road safety, we will strengthen awareness and monitoring actions to reduce their impact on traffic accidents.”

To achieve this goal, the Traffic Group of the Civil Guard (ATGC) agents, along with local police forces participating in the campaign, will set up checkpoints on various types of roads and urban areas at any time of the day. The aim is to prevent people who have consumed alcohol or drugs from driving on the roads.

Risk factor

As reported by the DGT, alcohol consumption retained its status as the second most frequent concurrent cause of traffic accidents, being present in 14% of traffic incidents with victims in 2022 and as a contributing factor in 29% of those resulting in fatalities.

ASSSA - health insurance in Spain

According to the 2022 Toxicological Findings in Traffic Accident Victims report by the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences, in collaboration with the National Road Safety Observatory, over half (51.9%) of the drivers who died on the roads in 2022, subjected to autopsy and toxicological analysis, tested positive for alcohol, drugs, or psychotropic substances. This alarming figure represents a 2.5% increase compared to the previous year.

The report highlights that 72.6% of the 451 deceased drivers with positive results had a very high blood alcohol concentration, equal to or exceeding 1.2g/L, indicating severe intoxication.

The Spanish Road Safety Strategy 2030 identifies “Zero Tolerance for Risky Behaviours” as one of its strategic areas, identifying alcohol and drug consumption as behaviours contrary to road safety. Campaigns like this, which enhance surveillance impact through better planning and focus on high-risk behaviours using new technologies, are prioritised action lines.

Legislation on Alcohol and Drugs

As reiterated by the DGT, the only safe blood alcohol concentration is 0.0%, as even within legal limits, the risk of causing an accident may increase.

Moreover, the 0.0% limit, in both blood and breath, must be adhered to by drivers under the age of 18 following the implementation of the amendment to the Traffic and Road Safety Law. Chapter IV of Title XVII of the Penal Code classifies offenses against traffic safety and stipulates penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or toxic drugs, narcotics, or psychotropic substances. Notably, according to the 2022 Traffic Safety Prosecutor’s data, there was a surge in traffic-related crimes, resulting in 59,461 convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs—an all-time high since the 2007 Penal Code reform.

In summary, the year saw 105,078 charges, 104,660 convictions, and 137,406 legal proceedings initiated for offenses against road safety, indicating a 9.1% increase compared to the previous year. Additionally, since the introduction of the Points-Based Driving License, around 13% of sanctioned offenders and points deducted were associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the prescribed limit.

Also read: What is the legal blood alcohol limit in Spain

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