Benidorm’s new approach to drink driving

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BENIDORM has seen a 30 per cent increase in the figures for drivers arrested for road incidents this summer, as compared with last year.

Sounds startling, but the increase has been attributed not to some massive ailing in driving standards over the last twelve months, but rather the strengthening of traffic controls and checks, according to the Department of Traffic.

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The effect in the short term may be to cause an increase in the statistics, but they point out that in the long term, the educational and deterrent aspect of such traffic checks should result in a decrease in delinquency.

The profile of the offenders is predictable: 92 per cent male, average age 32 years, and at least 10 of the 67 arrested over the summer had been drinking excessively.

EWN recently reported on the two pedestrians seriously injured when a car leaving the discos area of the Rincon left the road and mounted the pavement causing injury. The driver fled the scene, and was found to have been drunk, and it is this behaviour that the authorities are hoping to cut down on with hteir high profile campaign.

Of the 67 arrested, two were prosecuted for reckless driving and 8 for not having a licence. Although the figure state than only 10 were prosecuted for being over the limit, the true figure is very likely higher.

One encouraging statistic is that the number of drivers involved in traffic accidents who tested positive in a breath test has declined compared to other years, which, according to the traffic authorities is a sign that their anti drink-drive is already having a positive effect.

With Spain’s stiffening attitude towards road safety, errant drivers can now be punished with imprisonment of three to six months, or a fine, and community service work from 31 to 90 days, together with loss of licence for up to four years. the community Work Despite what the law says, not always the drivers who have committed a crime against road safety serving their sentence.

Benidorm has been particularly advanced in its treatment of offenders, veering towards the community service aspect and away from the more traditional criminal courts.

This is not some misguided attempt at leniency on the part of the Ayuntamiento, but rather a pragmatic approach given the backlog in the penal system. The town has its own agent monitoring the work designated to offenders, and there is no backlog in bringing them to book and starting them on community service.

Unlike the standard penal system approach where trials have been known to be delayed for years, for no other reason other than too many trials in the queue and too few courts to deal with them.

EWN has reported on this before, and on the increasing squeeze on the judiciary’s budget which has resulted in courts that are open not being operated full time, and planned new court buildings simply not being built. It is a question of funding, as with every other government department, from schools to health centres.

To highlight the problem facing the overburdened courts. The hit and run mentioned above, which resulted in serious injury, by drunks, where they fled the scene, changed their licence plates in an attempt to evade capture and left two pedestrians who urgently needed hospital treatment, still has not yet come before the courts.

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