Spanish government proposes prison sentences for driving offences

The Spanish parliament has passed a bill this week proposing that the Penal Code should be reformed to include people who drink and drive and drivers who break the speed limit. The bill was passed with 296 votes in favour, 2 abstentions but with no votes against it. However, the Royal Automobile Club for Spain (RACE) has criticised this measure saying that prison sentences for drivers should only be used as a last resort and that it was more important to move towards preventative policies.

According to the RACE the driving licence points system has already become less effective in the space of just one year. It attributes this loss of effectiveness to three motives: the lack of agents whose job it is to look out for driving infractions on the roads, slow and inefficient administration and the lack of collaboration between a lot of town halls, some of which do not follow procedures for taking away driving licence points. RACE claims that sending drivers to prison is not a viable solution and the penal code should only be used as the last resort.

The results of a survey carried out by RACE show that 32% of drivers say that they haven’t modified their behaviour because of the threat of driving licence points while 27% say they have reduced the speed at which they drive.

The bill approved this week could become law before the end of the year. It fixes new limits which if broken could result in a driver being sentenced to between 3 to 6 months in prison. These are driving over 200 km p/h on the motorway, driving over 180 km p/h on a dual carriageway and driving over 110 km p/h in an urban area. The same applies to a driver who is found to have more than 1.2 grams of alcohol in their blood per litre.

During the parliamentary debate on Tuesday, Socialist MP Victorino Mayoral said that “those cowboys who think they are the only drivers on the road should not be able to impose their own laws” and reminded parliament of the declarations made by José María Aznar, the former Spanish Prime Minister, who several weeks ago said that he didn’t like anyone telling him how fast to drive or how much alcohol to drink.

On the other hand the PP spokesperson for road safety, Federico Subirón asked the government to develop real policies to improve road safety.

Related: New driving laws in Spain
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