Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is personal view of Spain and Spanish life as seen by a Briton living in a small village in Alicante province.
The other tabs link to similar blogs when I have lived in other places. The TIM magazine is an English language magazine I write articles for.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Me pones una sin alcohol, por favor

I was just in town so I went for a drink. I had a non alcoholic beer and as I sat at the bar I noticed that of the eight other people having a drink three were on the beer flavoured pop too. It's a very common drink possibly because, once it's in the glass, nobody is going to know it's not the real thing and try to force lots of beer on you. It's to do with drink driving of course. The limits here are 0.5mg/ml as against 0.8 in the UK and there are even more stringent levels for new and professional drivers.

Nonetheless Spaniards drink and drive. I've always thought that drivers aged 50 plus were likely to be the worst offenders. After all to have a couple of glasses of beer during the morning, a glass or two of wine with lunch and then a brandy to top it all off before jumping into the Audi and zipping off to the office would be absolutely normal behaviour. So, if it's been OK for years why change the habits of a lifetime? And, until recently I think that was true but with random breath tests, points on licences, the possibility of prison or community service plus heavy fines the older Spaniards have realised that they have something to lose.

I've just been trying to hunt down the statistics for drink driving in Spain and I've found it really difficult to find anything definite. For instance it seems that alcohol related traffic offences have been falling steadily year on year but with some reading between the lines that may not be true for 2009. The figures seem to be being presented differently with a different emphasis - my guess is that with doing lots more random tests and by changing the patterns of where they test the Guardia and Police have actually caught more people. Locally, there is circumstantial evidence of that. I know lots of Britons who have a skinful and then travel home on very minor roads and tracks. A friend of ours, a non drinker, was pulled over on one such road at around 1am in the morning. I suppose that if Britons do it then Spaniards will too so those controls may be catching a disproportionately high number of people. I also tried to find out whether my personal take on the age profile of drink drivers was right. It doesn't seem to be in that the "Minister of Transport" avoided the question but said that it was neither the very young nor the older drivers who were the drinkers. He said that over 50% of the prosecutions are for 20 to 40 year olds. No mention though of the distribution of the other nearly 50%.

Anyway, it's definitely true about the non alcoholic beers.

1 comment:

Jim said...

We did just thre opposite and went to Belgo's, a Belgian restaurant in Covent Garden, with the family. There wasn't a beer under 8%. So I had a couple of those with my moules frites, and slept through most of the show we had gone down to see.
It's an age thing.