Drunk Driving Laws & Limits in Spain 2023: How Much Alcohol Can You Drink and Drive?

Drinking and driving in Spain

Spain prohibits individuals from driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.05% (50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 blood milliliters) or higher. Novice and professional drivers, including bus and coach drivers, are considered to have violated the BAC limit if their level is 0.03% or higher. Those who breach the set BAC limits may face punishment and penalties.

Drinking one to two standard alcoholic beverages may result in a BAC of 0.05%, depending on a person’s features, such as weight and gender.

This article aims to educate and raise awareness about drunk driving in Spain. This website does not advocate or endorse drunk driving in any state or region.

According to the ETSC (European Transport Safety Council), alcohol was a factor in 25% of fatal events and 13% of all injury collisions in Spain in 2019.

Traffic law enforcement played a significant role in increasing road safety in Spain. Civil Guard drink-driving checks rose from 5.5 million in 2018 to 6.5 million in 2019.

Driving under the influence of alcohol poses significant safety risks. It’s advisable to avoid driving altogether after consuming alcohol. If driving is necessary, it’s best to utilize designated driver services, cabs, or other transportation options.

In Spain, adhering to drunk driving laws is crucial. If driving is unavoidable, measuring your BAC level before getting behind the wheel is essential. An alcohol breathalyzer is a reliable tool for accurately determining your BAC level.

We recommend checking ETSC’s official website for more information about drunk driving restrictions in Spain.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Spain

After the first drink, signs of alcohol intoxication may appear, impairing rational thinking and potentially causing individuals to engage in actions they would not normally engage in when sober.

It usually takes 30 minutes to 2 hours for alcohol to enter your system after consumption. As a result, your respiratory rate may slow, making it difficult to think coherently.

Alcohol consumption can lead to delayed reaction times, reduced reflexes, and distorted perceptions of distance and speed. These effects can manifest even if you don’t feel or seem intoxicated.

Even though the legal BAC limit in Spain is 0.05%, keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to alcohol, and various factors can cause a person’s BAC to increase.

The following factors influence blood alcohol concentration:

  • gender,
  • weight,
  • hunger,
  • stress levels,
  • level of alcohol consumption, and
  • medicine consumption

Before going behind the wheel, it is best to check your blood alcohol level. Despite appearing sober, some people’s driving abilities may already be impaired by alcohol. After a few bottles of alcoholic beverages, some people may experience trembling or even faintness.

While a BAC calculator and BAC chart can help estimate the amount of alcohol you can consume before driving, it’s important to note that these tools may not be universally practical or applicable since people’s reactions to alcohol can vary.

Using a certified alcohol breathalyzer to establish your BAC is the most accurate method.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Spain

BAC levels between 0.010% to 0.029% are unlikely to cause significant impairment, and individuals with this BAC level may appear sober. However, as BAC levels increase, the signs of alcohol-related impairment become increasingly noticeable.

Drunk driving regulations differ from country to country. Assess your blood alcohol level before driving to avoid fines and penalties.

The consequences of drinking and driving in Spain are outlined below.

BAC Level of 0.025% to 0.050% 

  • Fines: €500 
  • Penalty Points: 4 out of 15

BAC Level 0.050% 0.120%

  • Fines: €1,000
  • Penalty Points: 6 out of 15

BAC Level of 0.120% And Above

  • Fines: Spain employs a day-fine system, which may result in penalties ranging from 6 to 12 months
  • Driving ban: One to four years of suspension of driving privileges
  • Jail Time: Between 3 and 6 months in prison or 90 days of community service

Refusal of Test

  • Fines: €2,000
  • Driving ban: One to four years of driving ban
  • Jail Time: Six months up to one-year imprisonment

When Can You Drink and Drive in Spain?

Several factors influence a person’s BAC, including gender, significantly impacting BAC levels. According to studies, males and females have different BAC thresholds.

Men have much higher levels of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) than women. ADH enzymes regulate alcohol metabolism, allowing men to absorb alcohol more quickly than women.

The data below can help you calculate the alcohol you can drink before driving in Spain. However, individual reactions to alcohol can vary, and thus the recommended alcohol intake may not be suited to everyone, despite being based on research.

How Many Beer Bottles Can You Drink and Drive in Spain?

According to BAC charts, individuals with lower body weights tend to have higher BAC levels. 

For instance, a male weighing 72 kilograms (160 lbs) who drinks a 350 ml (12-ounce) beer can reach a BAC of 0.02%. In contrast, a female of the same weight and drinking the same amount of beer may have a BAC of 0.03%, underscoring the impact of gender on alcohol metabolism.

Given this example, limiting beer consumption to one or two bottles is advisable if you plan to drive afterward.

How Many Wine Glasses Can You Consume and Drive in Spain?

Drinking wine and drive in Spain

A standard wine glass, with a volume of 142 milliliters (5 ounces), typically contains 12% ABV.

As demonstrated in the previous example, a male weighing 72 kilograms (160 pounds) who drinks one glass of wine can have a BAC level of 0.02%. 

It’s important to note that BAC levels may be affected by factors such as stress, an empty stomach, and medication use. Therefore, limiting wine consumption to one or two glasses is advisable.

How Many Shots of Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Spain?

Vodka and whiskey are distilled alcoholic beverages with a typical 40% ABV. For example, a male weighing 72 kilos (160 pounds) can reach a BAC of 0.02% after drinking one shot of vodka or whiskey.

In contrast, a female of the same weight and drinking pattern may have a BAC of 0.03%, indicating the impact of gender on alcohol metabolism. However, BAC levels may vary depending on various factors.

If you plan to drive after drinking whiskey or vodka, it’s recommended to limit yourself to one or two shots.

Sticking to Drink and Drive Laws in Spain

Alcohol or drug-impaired driving is hazardous. Intoxication can result in losing control over oneself and the vehicle, posing a risk to both the driver and others on the road. Drivers must understand the perils of drunk driving and take all necessary precautions to prevent it.

Even if you have only had a few glasses or bottles of alcohol, you must be cautious about your BAC and driving ability. Instead of driving, alternate modes of transportation should be considered.

If you can’t avoid driving after drinking, ensure your ability isn’t hindered. Before driving, use a certified alcohol breathalyzer to establish your blood alcohol level.

For the most up-to-date information on drink-driving legislation, visit the official website of the European Traffic Safety Council.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.