SPAIN'S traffic authorities are considering reducing the alcohol limit to zero for new and young drivers and those who do so professionally, including road-haulage and taxi drivers.
Head of the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) Gregorio Serrano says the move will 'remove potential killers from Spain's roads' and recalls that in some countries, the zero rule already applies.
Already, in Spain, the alcohol limit is one of the lowest in Europe – less than a small glass of wine on a full stomach for a woman of average build – but even after the recent deaths of three cyclists in Oliva (Valencia province) hit national news, reports have continued to flood in of drivers caught between three and six times over the limit.
This said, none of those caught so far and reported on are young or new drivers, or professionals – in fact, the woman who killed three members of Jávea (Alicante provine) triathlon team in Oliva is aged 28.
At present, the alcohol limit of 0.25 milligrams per litre of breath – barely a small glass of wine – is reduced by 40% for new and professional drivers, to 0.15.
This is less than half a glass of wine, so there is no point in there being a limit at all as it effectively means that even a couple of mouthfuls of an alcoholic drink would render a driver illegal, thus precluding him or her from ordering a glass at all.
Drink- and drug-drivers who reoffend will lose their licence altogether following medical checks, Serrano says.
“People who persistently drink and drive do not have an 'awareness problem'; they know they're not supposed to do it. What they have is a drink problem,” he states.
New drivers of any age may be affected by the new 'zero' rule, although it is largely aimed at younger adults.
In Spain, a person has to be aged 18 at least before starting to learn to drive and, until they pass their test, are not allowed behind the wheel even off-road except in a driving-school car with a registered instructor.
Many Spanish adults do not start learning until they are in their early 20s, typically waiting until they have finished university, and a 'young driver' for insurance purposes is considered to be aged 26 or under.