Driving in Spain: The 12 things that could land you in trouble with the law

Driving in Spain: The 12 things that could land you in trouble with the law
Photo by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash
There are certain things that are illegal to do in Spain when at the wheel of a car that could result in a fine and points on your licence, such as speeding or talking on your mobile phone.

But there are also a whole host of things that aren’t strictly illegal but COULD result in a fine if you are caught by a Guardia Civil traffic unit.

The following infractions are not expressly forbidden by law but fall under Articles 17 and 18  of the driving code which states that  the driver must be in control of the vehicle and all those within it at all times. “The driver of a vehicle is obliged to maintain freedom of movement, clear field of vision and full attention, to guarantee the driver’s own safety plus the occupants in the car and other road users.”


Here’s a list of those activities that are dependent on the officer’s discretion as to whether in doing them, the driver is posing a danger on a road.

Wear flip flops

Driving while wearing flip flops is considered ill-advised when driving in Spain, supposedly because flip flops could get stuck under the pedal therefore causing you to lose concentration or even provoke the direct loss of control of the vehicle.

If caught doing so, you could be fined up to €200 and earn 2 points on your licence. Likewise if you are barefoot or wearing other footwear deemed unsuitable by a traffic cop, such as stilettos.

Put on make-up or shave.

Photo: Asim Bharwani/Flickr

Not surprisingly, if you are caught shaving at the wheel or attempting to apply mascara, or any kind of make-up while driving, then expect a fine and 2 points docked from your licence.

Playing loud music

Driving with the volume up so high that you might not be aware of sirens could also earn you a fine. So too is driving with music blasting out when in an urban area or close to a hospital.

Eat,  drink or light a cigarette

Photo by Gil Ribeiro on Unsplash

Eating behind the wheel, and even drinking from a bottle of water could result a penalty if a traffic officer catches you and considers that you are risking distraction. You could be fined €200 and receive 2 points on your licence. Likewise lighting a cigarette can be considered a distraction and is subject to a penalty.

Tossing a cigarette butt out a vehicle’s window is illegal, punishable with a minimum €200 fine and the loss of 4 points off one’s driver’s license.

Hang your arm out of the window

Driving with your arm hanging out of the window, gesticulating out the window without cause or even sticking your elbow out could result in a fine of up to €80.

Not being properly dressed

Driving without a shirt on could also result in a fine of €200. This is because in the case of an accident injury could be sustained through skin contact with the airbag or seat belt, for example.

Use a sat-nav

Having a sat-nav attached to the interior of your windscreen could be considered a distraction if it affects visibility of the road ahead. So to is fiddling around with it while driving the car. Pull over of face a fine-

Argue with a passenger

Anything that night be considered a distraction while at the wheel is subject to a penalty and that includes having an argument with a passenger. So no gesticulating wildly or shouting uncontrollably, and certainly no turning round to jab your finger at a passenger in the back seat.

Unjustified use of the horn

This might surprise regular drivers in Spain, but beeping the horn without good reason can apparently land you with a fine of €80. Justified use of the horn includes alerting someone to avoid an accident. It isn’t considered justified to beep at your neighbour to attract his attention so you can wave at him. Nor is it justified to sound the horn if the driver in front is slow pulling away on a green light, but tell that to every single Spanish driver, ever.

Drive through a traffic light on amber

It seems like everyone in Spain does this, but the guidelines state that if you can come to a stop in time on an amber light without risking someone running into the back of you, then you should stop. Or face a €80 fine.

Wear a hat

Hats or caps aren’t outright banned but if a hat comes too low over your eyes and is considered to be detrimental to the vision of the driver or covers the ears and could limit the ability to hear well, then the driver could be pulled over and fined.

Put feet on the dashboard

Photo by Victoria Bilsborough on Unsplash

We trust that there isn’t a driver stupid enough to attempt to drive a car while putting his feet up, but the driver could be liable for a fine even if the front seat passenger sits back with their feet on the dashboard.

Drivers could also get in trouble if they fail to have pets secured properly, if there are objects that could pose a hazard that are not secured properly or if passengers themselves are not wearing a seat belt.

What’s more, there a list of things you can’t do at a gas station which includes, smoking, talking on a mobile phone, leaving the lights or the radio on while filling up.


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