18th April 2024
Guardia Civil traffic
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The new driving rules and fines of Spain’s updated Road Traffic Act

New traffic laws and penalties came into force in Spain last Monday, which the government says are intended to adapt ‘to new times’ as far as changes taking place in ‘personal mobility vehicles’ and for cyclists, and to ‘continue advancing in improving road safety in Spain’. The new laws include changes to overtaking, mobile phone distractions, electric scooters and alcohol limits.

With the new regulations, the number of points to be deducted for certain infractions is increased, yet without increasing the financial penalties. The changes affect the essential elements of road safety such as distractions (using or holding a mobile phone whilst driving), speed, alcohol, not wearing a seat belt and overtaking.

The penalties

  • Distractions/mobile phones. An increase from three to six points to be deducted from the driving license for holding a mobile phone whilst driving. The fine remains at €200 as well as the loss of three points if the driver uses their mobile phone 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, but not keep a mobile phone lodged between the helmet and head whilst driving.
  • Safety belt and protection elements. Sanctions increase from three to four points for not using, or not using properly, the seat belt, child restraint systems, helmet and other mandatory protection elements. The fine is also €200.
  • Speed. The ability for passenger cars and motorcycles to exceed the speed limits on ‘secondary roads’ by 20 kmh when overtaking other vehicles is now cancelled. ‘Secondary roads’ in Spain are single-carriageway roads which are a step down from motorways (with lanes in both directions, with or without separating barriers).
  • Alcohol. People under the age of 18 in Spain are not allowed to use an e-scooter or moped if they have drunk any alcohol at all. Despite the legal drinking age in Spain officially being 18, up to now minors were included in the same categories as adults, for whom the limit is 0.25 milligrammes of alcohol. There is a €500 fine for infractions.
  • Overtaking cyclists or mopeds. The safety of cyclists is increased by making it compulsory, on roads with more than one lane in each direction, to completely change lanes when overtaking cyclists or mopeds. In addition, the points to be deducted if endangering or hindering cyclists without leaving the mandatory minimum space of 1.5 metres when overtaking are increased from four to six points. Stopping or parking in bike lanes or on cycle paths is also prohibited. Fines are €200.
  • Recovering license points. If for two years a driver doesn’t commit any further driving offences, they can now recover all 12 points automatically. Previously there was a three-year wait for serious driving offences. It is now also possible to recover two points by carrying out a driving safety course. 
  • Objects on the road. Throwing objects on the road or in its vicinity that can cause accidents or fires becomes a very serious offence. This penalty is now six points and a €500 fine.
  • No e-scooters on pavements, helmets required. Electric scooters, segways and similar devices now have a special category in Spain’s traffic laws. It is now compulsory for users to wear a helmet and it is forbidden to ride on the pavement, motorways or highways. A €200 fine is in place.

Other changes

  • Low Emission Zones. A new serious infraction is introduced, with a €200 fine for not respecting the traffic restrictions of low emission zones. The Spanish Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition requires municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants to establish Low Emission Zones before 1 January 2023.
  • Fraud in driving license tests. Using unauthorised intercommunication devices during the theory or practical test in Spain now carries a €500 fine and a 6 month ban from resitting the driving exams. 
  • Anti-start breathalyser. From 6 July 2022, drivers of vehicles intended for the transport of passengers by road that have anti-start breathalysers, will be obliged to use these devices.

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