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Driving in Spain: The new rules and fines in force from March 21st

A new set of traffic laws and fines come into force in Spain on Monday March 21st 2022, including changes to overtaking, electric scooters and alcohol limits.

Driving in Spain: The new rules and fines in force from March 21st
Spain's traffic authority has toughened exisiting rules and introduced new ones in a bid to reduce road deaths in the country caused by speeding, distractions and other road infractions. Photo: Alina Lelikova/Pixabay

Using or holding a mobile phone 

Spain’s DGT traffic authority is trying to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents caused by distractions at the wheel, the reason for road deaths in 31 percent of cases in the country. 

Driving while holding your mobile phone in your hand now results in the loss of six points from your driving licence, three more than previously. 

As for the fine,  it’s still €200 as well as the loss of three points if the driver uses their mobile but doesn’t have it in their hand.

It remains legal to use wireless or other approved devices if they don’t involve the use of hands or helmets or headphones.

Motorcyclists can have such devices on their helmets for communication or navigation purposes, as long as they’re not a safety risk. However, this doesn’t include keeping a mobile phone device lodged between the helmet and your head while driving, an offence which carries the loss of three points.

Littering

Throwing objects on the road such as cigarette butts will carry a penalty of 6 points and a €200 to €500 fine, instead of the previous 4 points.

Not wearing a seatbelt

Not using your seat belt or doing it incorrectly will be punished with a €200 fine and the loss of 4 points; one more than previously.

According to the DGT, one in four deaths in traffic accidents in Spain are people who were not wearing a seatbelt.

Overtaking bicycles and mopeds

It will be mandatory to change lanes when overtaking cyclists or moped users on roads with more than one lane in each direction.

Endangering or hindering cyclists when overtaking or without leaving the mandatory minimum separation of 1.5 metres will now result in the loss of six points from one’s driving licence rather than four. The fine will continue to be €200. 

Stopping or parking your vehicle in a bus lane or a cycle path will now also be considered a serious violation and could result in the same penalty as for not overtaking cyclists properly.

Half of the 1,370 people who died in traffic accidents in Spain in 2020 were pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists. 

Overtaking on secondary roads

It is no longer possible to surpass the speed limit of carreteras convencionales (secondary roads) by up to 20km/h when overtaking other vehicles. 

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).

From March 21st 2022, anyone who surpasses the speed limit of a carretera convencional will be penalised and fined according to their excess of speed.

The DGT has reported that in 2019, 239 drivers died in road accidents in Spain as a result of these overtaking manoeuvres. 

No drink-driving by minors 

People under the age of 18 in Spain will not be allowed to use an e-scooter or moped if they have drunk any alcohol at all. 

Even though the legal drinking age in Spain is 18, up to now minors were included in the same categories as adults, for whom the limit is 0.25 milligrammes of alcohol.  

No e-scooters on the pavement 

For the first time, personal mobility vehicles such as electric scooters, segways and similar devices have a special category in Spain’s traffic laws, which also apply to bicycles. 

The new rules that come into force on March 21st 2022 include two important changes for users of these devices that are becoming increasingly prevalent across Spain. 

It is now mandatory for users to wear a helmet and it is expressly forbidden to ride on the pavement, motorways or highways.

Either of these infractions will be punishable with a €200 fine. 

The legal framework for stricter rules for personal mobility vehicles to soon be adopted have also been introduced, namely that by July 2022 new devices will have to include a breathalyser for users to be able to use them. 

Recovering lost points 

If you’ve lost points off your licence, there’s a positive change that is now in force. If for two years you don’t commit any further driving offences, you can now recover all 12 points automatically. 

Previously there was a three-year wait for those who had committed a serious driving offence.

It will also now be possible to recover two points by carrying out a driving safety course. 

READ ALSO: Electric scooters in Spain – What are the rules and latest changes?

Cheating in driving exams 

Using unauthorised intercommunication devices (cheating, in other words) during the theory or practical test in Spain now carries a €500 fine and a six-month ban from resitting the driving exams. 

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WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

July sees the start of the summer holidays in Spain and brings with it new crisis handouts, VAT cuts on energy bills, travel chaos and a possible deal on UK driving licences. Join The Local Spain as a member to find out about this and plenty more.

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

€200 crisis payment available in July 

As part of their new draft of measures to help those struggling with the rising cost of living, the Spanish government announced they would give a one-off €200 handout to the most vulnerable individuals.

The payment plan is set to be activated this month and you can find out who is eligible and how to apply for it here.

According to Spain’s Tax Minister María Jesús Montero, approximately 2.7 million people in Spain will be able to benefit from the scheme. Individuals can request the €200 payment, as can families, but only one payment per household is allowed.

VAT on electricity bills cut by half 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez recently announced that the government would apply a further reduction in VAT on electricity bills, which has now been approved by the cabinet. This means that a VAT reduction, from 10 to five percent, will be applied to electricity bills from July onwards.  

Find out how much you could save on your electricity bill with the new VAT discount here

Travel chaos continues

In the lead-up to the summer holidays, there has been travel chaos across Europe, including in Spain, due to flight cancellations, staff shortages and strikes. Unfortunately, the travel misery is only set to continue into July as several Spain-based cabin crew, including those from easyJet, Ryanair and Lufthansa have announced strikes.

EasyJet staff are scheduled to go on a nine-day strike on July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 15th, 16th, 17th, 29th, 30th and 31st. Meanwhile, the Ryanair strike, which started on June 24th will continue on July 1st and 2nd. Over 54 flights have already been cancelled by the low-cost airline and more than 300 have been delayed.

German carrier Lufthansa and its budget airline brand, Eurowings are also planning to cancel more than 3,000 flights this summer due to both staff shortages and strikes. This is expected to affect flights from the hubs of Frankfurt and Munich to Spain, among others. 

Could there finally be a deal on UK driving licences?

The British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott recently shared his latest update on the driving licence negotiations between the UK and Spain, indicating a possible agreement to have affected drivers back on the road by the end of July 2022.

“The UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement,” he explained.

This will be a great relief for many British residents in Spain who were unable to exchange their licence for a Spanish one and haven’t been allowed on the roads since May 1st 2022.

Scorching weather returns to Spain in July

After a brief respite from the mid-June heatwaves, the hot weather is set to return in July. According to the weather site Meteored, the first week of July will see storms and unpredictable weather in the north of the country, while temperatures could reach over 40°C in the south of the country around Córdoba and Seville.

The middle of the month from July 11th to 17th is set to see temperatures rise again. It’s likely that much of Extremadura and Andalusia will experience temperatures around 40°C, while it could also reach 38°C in Bilbao and Madrid.

The last two weeks of July will get even hotter with Meteored predicting the hottest temperatures of the whole year. Temperatures are expected to be above normal in all regions apart from along the Cantabrian coast and in the Canary Islands.

Summer sales go into full throttle

July 1st sees the official start of the summer sales throughout much of Spain, although many stores have started even earlier. With rising costs due to inflation, this is the time of year to benefit from some of the biggest discounts.

Amazon has two days scheduled for its sales from July 12th-13th, while H&M and all the retail stores belonging to Spanish clothing giant Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull & Bear and Stradivarius) are also due to have their sales this month.

After the start of the sales, you’ll see signs for “segundas rebajas” (second sales), then “terceras rebajas” and finally “remate final” (final push), where discounts progressively go from 30 percent to 40, then 50 and finally down to an incredible 70 percent price reduction. 

Imserso holiday scheme for pensioners kicks off 

Imserso is a social scheme offering holidays to the elderly, which aim to offer subsidised trips to pensioners. Applications for the vacation scheme this year are open from June 27th to July 19th and usually run during the low season from October. Find out how to apply here.

Depending on the dates you go and the type of accommodation you stay in, you will usually have to pay between €115 and €405 for the trip.

Vehicles in Spain need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance

New cars sold in Spain and across the EU must have automatic Intelligent Speed Assistance technology from July 6th as part of the General Safety Regulation.

All newly launched models will need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance systems installed as standard. The idea is to limit speeds and warn drivers to slow down if they’re over the legal speed limit.

Festivals in Spain in July

July sees a whole host of festivals and celebrations across the country. Most famous are the San Fermín Running of the Bulls, held in Pamplona from July 6th – 14th and the Fiestas de Santiago Apóstol, held in the Galician city on July 25th.

Other festivities taking place in July include Bilbao’s BBK music festival from the 7th to the 9th and the Moors and Christians parades in Villajoyosa from the 23rd to 24th, commemorating the battle of 1538.

Pride celebrations are also set to return in July. Madrid’s LGBTIQ+ festival will take place from July 1st to 10th throughout many areas of the city but concentrated around Chueca.

New law to improve rights of domestic workers

A new law could be approved this month to improve the rights of domestic workers so that they have the same rights as other workers, such as the right to unemployment benefits and proper wages.

A third of the 536,100 domestics (mostly women) who work in Spain are not signed up to Spain’s social security system, according to the country’s Labour Force Survey. Two out of every three have earnings around the minimum wage bracket.

Early last year the Spanish government sent out letters to Spanish households who employ workers to warn them of their obligations.

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