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Driving in Spain: The five new fines traffic authorities want to roll out in September

Spain’s DGT traffic authority is putting the finishing touches to a set of new fines for drivers in the country which could be approved in September 2021. 

Driving in Spain: The five new fines traffic authorities want to roll out in September
Spain's traffic authority is looking for approval from the Spanish Parliament to introduce five new fines from September 2021 onwards. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) is looking for approval from the Spanish parliament to introduce five new fines as well as other amendments to the country’s traffic code. 

One of the main purposes of these changes is to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of the 29.4 million vehicles in circulation in the country. 

Article 2 of Spain’s traffic code would therefore include as punishable offences actions considered of “unnecessary damage or inconvenience to the environment”, whereas the previous wording only addressed negligence towards humans and property. 

One of the new penalties that could come into force relates to this reinforced protection for the environment, although as we will see now, all other new fines (multas in Spanish) are focused primarily on improving road safety. 

Not switching off the engine when the vehicle is stationary or parked 

The DGT wants to prevent unnecessary emissions by requiring drivers to switch off their engine while the vehicle isn’t moving. 

After parking or temporarily stopping, drivers will have a maximum of two minutes in which they can keep their engines running if they want to avoid a €100 fine. 

This would apply even if the drivers and passengers remained inside the vehicle. 

The DGT hasn’t clarified yet if this new rule would apply when vehicles are stuck in traffic. 

Holding a mobile phone even if you’re not using it 

Spanish traffic authorities keep looking for ways to dissuade drivers from getting distracted by their mobile phones.

Last May, they announced their intention to start fining drivers who have their phones close to them even if they’re not technically using them.

The DGT now wants to widen the criteria of punishable mobile-related offences to include holding a mobile phone while driving, even if it’s not being looked at or used. 

The proposed penalty is the loss of 3 to 6 points off drivers’ licences, as well as €100 fine. 

This summer, drivers in Spain were warned by the DGT that using mobile devices (including GPSs and headphones) while driving is already considered a punishable offence which leads to a €200 fine and the loss of 3 points off one’s driving licence.  

Photo: StockSnap/Pixabay

Surpassing speed limit when overtaking on secondary roads 

This has been the plan by Spain’s DGT since it toughened penalties and speed limits in late 2020. 

Now it seems increasingly likely that from September, vehicles in Spain won’t be able to surpass the speed limit at all when overtaking on secondary roads, whereas currently it is still allowed by up to 20km/h when safe to do so.

Although the fines have not yet been mentioned, penalties for speeding on carreteras convencionales currently range from €100 for surpassing the limit by between 21 and 40km/h to €600 and the loss of 6 points for surpassing the speed by 71km/h. 

Carreteras convencionales, high-capacity single-carriageway roads which are a step down from motorways (with lanes in both directions, with or without separating barriers) are where 77 percent of fatal road accidents take place in Spain, according to DGT data. They often run parallel to the motorways and connect different urban areas.

Photo: Juanecd/Flickr

Back in May, DGT head Pere Navarro suggested that there will also be a speed limit drop on carreteras convencionales, the country’s secondary roads, where the current speed is 90km/h in most cases.

“It should be 70km/h on these roads, that would be the ideal speed,” Navarro said at the time, although there is no evidence this will be included in this latest proposal of new fines and changes to Spain’s traffic code.

Having a speed camera detector in your vehicle

It is already illegal to use a speed camera detector in your car in Spain, with fines of €6,000 and the loss of 6 driving licence points for those caught red handed. 

What the DGT is now proposing is that simply having one of these devices installed in your vehicle should be enough to be handed a fine, even if police don’t catch offenders in the act. 

The proposed penalty is the loss of 3 points of one’s licence and a €500 fine. 

Not wearing a helmet while riding an e-scooter

The proliferation of electric scooters and similar micro-mobility devices across Spain keeps forcing the DGT to keep adjusting its legislation for this new and still relatively unregulated means of transport to be accounted for. 

Photo: Juan MABROMATA/AFP

Since January 2021, e-scooter users have been banned from riding on the pavement, have a maximum speed limit of 25km/h and require a driving certificate, not that the evidence suggests that these measures are being policed properly across Spain. 

Now the DGT wants to make it compulsory for these e-riders to wear a helmet or face a penalty of €200.

Member comments

  1. Good intentions, no doubt. However, the problem is enforcement. Here in Marbella, speeding on AP-7 as well as on secondary roads is the norm. I have never seen police doing speed control. Driving while holding a mobile phone in one hand is common. Few drivers bother signalling when turning. Parking next to a no parking/stopping sign especially on roundabouts as well as double parking and blocking the lane is standard practice. Police often just pass by without bothering to issue tickets. Introducing new “punishable offences” is purely an academic exercise and looks good on paper but is pretty useless in practice.

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DRIVING IN SPAIN

Driving in rainy weather in Spain: Five reasons police can fine you

Rainy or stormy weather involves even more cautious driving than usual, but there are certain driving mishaps in wet weather than can result in stiff fines and the loss of points for drivers in Spain.

Driving in rainy weather in Spain: Five reasons police can fine you

It’s not always sunny and dry in Spain. In fact, some parts of the country get quite a lot of rainfall throughout the year. 

As a result, some drivers in Spain may forget that they need to drive differently when the roads are wet.

Running a red light, not respecting zebra crossings or speeding are of course immediate fines whatever the weather, but there are certain mistakes that apply when there’s rainy or stormy weather. For all the latest news and information for drivers in Spain, check out The Local’s Driving in Spain section.

Splashing pedestrians when speeding through a puddle

Let’s face it – there are some drivers who secretly enjoy soaking pedestrians as they drive past them, but they could be in for a nasty surprise as they face a €600 fine if caught.

Spain’s traffic laws specify that road users must behave in such a way that they do not hinder traffic circulation, inconvenience people or damage property. If the police believe that you’re doing any of the above by speeding through puddles and splashing passers-by, then you could receive a hefty fine.

Not respecting the safety distance

A safe distance must always be kept between cars, but on a rainy or foggy day, the distance doubles as braking can take longer and skidding and sliding can occur more easily. You should keep a minimum distance of 100 metres or four seconds between you and the car in front. New rules also came into force this year to say that when overtaking cyclists or motorbikes, drivers must keep a safe distance of at least 1.5 metres. 

Some drivers tend to be cautious on wet roads, slowing down more than usual, but this will annoy other drivers who are in a hurry, overtaking and getting too close, forgetting to respect the necessary distance. Not sticking to the right safety distance can cost you a fine of €200 and you could lose four points off your licence.

Having a broken or damaged windshield wiper

While you may not have much rain for a while in your part of Spain, it’s still important to make sure that the parts of a car that deal with the rain are in good working order, such as the windshield wipers.

If your windows are fogged up or there are too many raindrops on your windscreen for you to see out properly and your wipers aren’t working, you can be fined up to €200.

Not keeping your lights on

In adverse weather conditions, such as rain, lights are essential, even if it’s during the day. In rainy weather, you should have your dipped headlights on (luces de cruce). If there’s persistent and thick fog, you should have the fog lights on.  If you are caught without these on you can be fined €200.

Your tyres are in poor condition

Tyre condition is even more important in wet weather as your wheels need to have enough grip for driving, braking and turning when it’s slippery. The tyre thread cannot be worn down or be below 1.6mm or you could incur a fine of €200 for each wheel, totalling €800.

READ ALSO: The new driving rules and fines in force in Spain since March 2022

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