The rules are being strictly enforced and harsher penalties have been introduced. / tania sieira

Christmas 2022, the first since Spain's new traffic law came into force with its harsher penalties

Drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and those with electric scooters are advised to be aware of the new regulations to make sure their Christmas doesn't turn out to be miserable

JUAN ROIG VALOR MADRID.

This is the first festive season since Spain introduced its new Traffic and Road Safety law back in March, and drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and those with electric scooters are advised to be aware of the new regulations to make sure their Christmas doesn't turn out to be less happy than it should be.

The law includes several changes, including it now being an offence to exceed the speed limit when overtaking, and a reduction in the amount of permitted alcohol to 0.0 grammes per litre of blood in certain cases.

Whether or not these measures are effective in reducing the number of fatalities on the roads, which is their aim, remains to be seen, but the regulations are being strictly enforced.

The correlation between alcohol consumption and traffic accidents has been clearly proven – in 2020, 63.9% of the 597 drivers who were killed had been drinking – and although the new law officially allows drivers to consume a very small amount of alcohol, the official position of the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT) is that nobody should consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel and drive.

Before March this year, the authorities considered drivers to be in one of two groups: general and recently qualified drivers, and professionals. Those in the first category are permitted an alcohol limit of up to 0.5 grammes per litre of blood, while for those who drive for a living the limit is 0.3 grammes.

Zero alcohol for youngsters

However, the new law says that young drivers (ie under-18s) may not consume any alcohol at all before taking to the road, no matter whether they are on a motorcycle, electric scooter or bicycle.

The new Traffic Law also includes harsher penalties for dangerous behaviour such as drink-driving or being distracted behind the wheel, with fines of up to 1,000 euros depending on the severity of the offence.

Maximum fines will also be imposed if anyone refuses to take a breathalyser test, and if anyone tests positive for drink or drugs their vehicle will be immobilised, even if it is a bicycle or electric scooter.