Spanish tough traffic laws see 27,000 convicted
About 27,000 drivers have been found guilty of drunk driving, speeding and driving without a valid licence since December 2007.29 July 2008
MADRID - Almost 27,000 drivers have become convicted felons in Spain since 2 December 2007 when new rules were enacted classifying drunk driving and extreme speeding as criminal offenses.
By the end of this year, prosecutors expect the number of people convicted of traffic crimes to reach 60,000, Bartolomé Vargas, the chief road safety prosecutor, said Monday at the presentation of a report on the effects of the changes to the Penal Code.
Of the 26,820 people convicted under the new legislation, 21,761 were arrested for drunk driving, which can carry a prison sentence of between three and six months, besides a hefty fine and a ban from driving of between one and four years.
Another 36 people have been convicted for driving under the influence of drugs after police recently began testing drivers for substances other than alcohol.
Since May, when it became a criminal offense to drive without a licence, a further 4,849 people have been convicted of that offense, which carries similar sentences.
In the case of most drivers who have a clean criminal record, prison sentences were commuted to fines and community service, Vargas noted.
However, 100 people did end up serving time in prison, in most cases because they had a prior criminal record.
[El Pais / Expatica]