Weary-eyed and tired, a man wanders home from a wedding party in the balmy city of Barcelona, Spain. Opting to avoid driving following an evening of festive inebriation, the tipsy traveler saunters down the sidewalk with a mellow glow, content with his decision to spare himself a cab fee. Besides, the weather is warm and provides a comfortable venue for a late-night stroll through the otherwise empty streets.
All seems to be at peace until the silence is suddenly broken by the screech of squealing tires; the man reels around to see a car swerve off course, narrowly missing a stray cat and colliding with a parked car just a few feet away. Luckily, no one is injured in the accident and our haphazard witness sticks around to provide a statement, unwary of his potential implication in the incident. The police arrive and proceed to breathalyze everyone on scene, including the otherwise uninvolved pedestrians, and within the hour, our innocent partygoer finds himself facing possible sanctions and fines for being inebriated at the scene of an accident.
Guilty by Drunken Association
While seemingly exaggerated and contrived, situations like these are coming closer and closer to being a reality for residents and those that visit Spain. Hidden amongst a proposal that includes much more reasonable suggestions for tougher drunk driving penalties and improved driver education, Spain's Directorate General of Traffic has recently proffered new laws that will regulate and prosecute those traveling on foot along the same guidelines as motor vehicle operators.
The logic behind the change contends that pedestrians are "users of the road" just the same as car operators, and therefore, should abide by the same standards of mental clarity, even if the only vehicles they're operating are their shoes. The newly recommended measures have been forwarded as a "tool to foster better relations and coexistence between pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and vehicles." But government advisors for Spain have already dubbed it a blatant violation of rights.
The ordinance reaches beyond the scope of public intoxication, too, seeking measures to control even the speed at which pedestrians walk. A limit on pace would be purportedly set to "not surpassing that of a normal stride", spurning disillusioned Spaniards to quip the restriction as a "ban on jogging". One of the Spanish government's top advisory councils, the Council of State, urged a veto of the unreasonable caveats in a press release: "[Spaniards] could possibly abstain from fiestas or from attending weddings and celebrations where alcohol is consumed, since they could be subject to an alcohol test if a vehicle near them is involved in an accident." The actual implementation of the new laws is still up for debate, though, so Spaniards still might have to think twice about strapping on their walking shoes after they've been indulging in alcohol in the future.
The Rest of Europe Gets More Lax on Libations
In a shift contrasting the ludicrous recent precedents in Spain, the Irish government has begun reconsidering a long-standing drinking ban preventing the consumption of alcohol in pubs on Good Friday. The annual one-day prohibition has been in effect since 1927 in the country of Ireland and, after 88 years, two national organizations are finally consummating an effort to have the archaic law nullified.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland and the Licensed Vintners Association represent a prolific group of political activists affectionately dubbed "publicans", who have been fighting to preserve pub culture in the country. The production, purveyance, and export of alcoholic beverages is an important part of the Irish economy and heritage, with Scottish whiskey accounting for more than 25% of food and drink exports throughout the United Kingdom and the alcohol industry supporting tens of thousands of jobs nationally.
Publicans contend that the Good Friday drinking ban is outdated and detrimental to tourism, as it has conflicted with several major sporting events over the years and is scheduled to conflict with the centenary celebration of the 1916 Irish uprising from English rule next year. Although the legislation still remains active, though, promising developments have been made in recent meetings between the Irish Minister for Justice and the two publican organizations. The ban was already once lifted in an isolated exception several years ago for a rugby match in Limerick and citizens have high hopes for further relaxing of the regulations in years to come.
Travel Smart and Enjoy a Safe Trip
Regardless of how silly or fruitless local rules and regulations may seem, as a foreigner it is always important to obey applicable laws while adventuring abroad. Whether you explore Dublin on a pub crawl or admire the resplendent Spanish architecture while you tour Madrid, be sure to respect the local culture and remember that Auto Europe has you covered with whatever type of travel transportation you may need. Had a few too many pints or a bit too much sangria during a night out on the town? Get back to your cozy accommodations responsibly while staying in style with a private chauffeur service or plan ahead using one of our Europe travel guides to ensure that you always drive sober and arrive at your destination safely. We here at Auto Europe are dedicated to helping you make your next holiday a breeze while saving you money with the best rates in the industry, so begin planning your next fantastic vacation with us today!