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Driving in Spain: the new rules and fines in 2022

Holding a mobile phone while driving even if you're not technically using it will result in the loss of 6 points off your licence in Spain in 2022.
Holding a mobile phone while driving even if you're not technically using it will result in the loss of 6 points off your licence in Spain in 2022. Photo: SplitShire/Pixabay
The Spanish government has recently published the country's new traffic laws which are due to mainly come into effect on March 21st 2022. Here's a rundown of the major changes and fines, from the new rules for overtaking to the stiff penalties for holding a phone at the wheel.

Using (or holding) a phone while driving

One big rule change that’s now been approved after months in the pipeline is that driving while holding a mobile phone (you don’t have to be talking, typing or reading on the phone) will now cost you six points off your driving license (three more than before), although the fine for those caught remains at €200.

READ MORE: Spain eyes fines for drivers distracted by phones, even if they’re not using them

Overtaking cyclists 

Drivers who overtake cyclists without maintaining a safe distance of at least 1.5 metres will also lose six points off their licences. Previously in 2021 it had been agreed that this would incur a loss of three points, but the amount has since been doubled.

The period without committing driving infractions is increased to two years, and the full 12 points can be recovered so long as they have not all been lost. In the event that you don’t have any points left, a recovery course becomes necessary to get them back.

Belt, helmet and child seats

Not using or improperly using the seat belt, helmet or the Child Restraint System (CRS) increases from a three to a four-point penalty from drivers’ licences from March 2022. 

More serious fines

Throwing objects onto the road that could cause fires or accidents, such as cigarette butts or coffee cups, will now earn offending drivers a hefty €500 fine, as will using unauthorised intercommunication devices (cheating, in other words) in the theory or practical test.

The improper use of immobilizer breathalyzers could also cost you €500 as part of the new rules, as could not following the rules on roadside assistance operation following an accident.

Roadside assistance must be carried out in the safest possible way, never on the side adjacent to the flow of traffic, with some kind of identifying lights or reflectors, and must be communicated to the Traffic authorities.

Failure to stop and assist at an accident if you are the first on the scene is a crime in Spain’s Penal Code, and is punishable by fines and even time in prison, depending on the severity of the incident.

READ MORE: What you need to know if you are in a road traffic accident in Spain

 

Stopping or parking on a bike path

Stopping or parking on cycle lanes now brings a €200 fine, as does carrying in the vehicle detection mechanisms of radars or kinemometers.

 

Light fines for cyclists

Cyclists haven’t escaped the new rules. Those on two wheels who fail to comply with road safety regulations that are not considered “serious or very serious” can face small fines up to €100.

READ ALSO: Cycling in Spain – 12 fines you need to watch out for

Goodbye to the margin of 20 km/h to overtake

One major change in the new rules is the rule on overtaking on carreteras convencionales, which up until now has been a 20km/h margin above the speed limit of 90km/h.

Carreteras convencionales are high-capacity single-carriageway roads in Spain which are a step down from motorways (with lanes in both directions, with or without separating barriers).

Spain’s Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) has pushed the national government to scrap overtaking on said roads, arguing that Spain is the only country in the EU which allowed surpassing the speed limit of 90km/h on these roads and that 77 percent of fatal road accidents in Spain take place on secondary roads, often as a result of overtaking manoeuvres where there’s one lane in each direction and two vehicles collide head on.

In October, Spain’s Council of Ministers decided to not support the proposed ban on overtaking but on December 3rd the DGT traffic authority managed to incorporate this prohibition on surpassing the speed limit to overtake on secondary roads into law.

The new rule, which continues to be controversial as many drivers argue the 20km/h margin is a safety precaution when needing to act quickly, is due to come into force in March 2022.

Changing lanes when overtaking

In addition, car drivers must completely change lanes when the road has more than one lane in each direction when overtaking.

Helmets and tougher rules for scooters, bikes and motorcycles

All cyclists, moped, motorbike and scooter drivers in Spain will be required by law to wear helmets from March 2022.

The new rules also prohibit scooters on pavements and other pedestrian areas, and states that the popular scooters have no right of way at crossings but also not on the pavement and other pedestrian areas.

 

‘Alcolock’ on buses

Anti-snatch breathalysers will be mandatory in transport vehicles (coaches and buses) from July 6th, 2022, and alcohol and drug controls for professional drivers in logistics and haulage are expected sometime in the next year.

No drunk riding

There is now a zero alcohol tolerance rate for people under the age of 18 – minors must have a zero alcohol level as drivers of any vehicle.

The legal age to drive a car is 18 in Spain, so this law is directed primarily at teen users of electric scooters, who will now be legally liable if they drink and ride. 

What will happen to cars with a DGT label in 2022?

Vehicles with the C environmental mark are all passenger cars and vans powered by gasoline engines, registered since January 2006 and diesel since 2014. Vehicles dedicated to the transport of goods, gasoline or diesel, registered since 2014, are also included in this category. There are some slight changes in 2022 for these vehicles, depending where you drive:

Low Emissions Zone – Downtown District – Madrid

As indicated in the new Ordenanza de Movilidad Sostenible approved by the Madrid City Council last September, vehicles with a C label may access Madrid’s Special Protection Low Emissions Zone as long as they go to a parking, private garage or non-subsidised parking reservation. Only vehicles with an ECO or 0 emissions label can now park in the street, and the fine for not respecting this rule is €90. The Madrid city council has created a consultation portal that allows you to check whether your vehicles are affected by the change.

Low Emissions Zone – Barcelona

In Barcelona however, vehicles with the C environmental label will not face any restrictions to access in the metropolitan area, for now, and can drive around ​​the 95 square kilometers metro area with no problems.


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