The controversial law banning drinking alcohol in public, considered by many a part of Spanish life, came into operation midnight last night. The Drug Dependency and Addictive Disorders Law outlaws drinking on the street, popularly called the "botellon" in Spain. Those in breach of the law can be fined by municipal police.

Also under the law, stores and bars which sell liquor to minors who then consume the drinks on the street can also be fined while the young offenders could be given community service sentences.

The new law, which has received a mixed response, follows rising public and political concern over underage drinking and a perceived shift away from Spain's relatively moderate alcohol consumption patterns.