If you are looking to move to Spain to live, or are indeed already resident here, it's important that you are familiar with traffic fines in Spain and how to deal with them once issued.
Whether it's for speeding, parking illegally or some other minor offence, most of us fall foul of the law at one time or another.
It's a fact that the local authorities here in Spain are a little strapped for cash due to the financial crisis. This means that the police will undoubtedly look for any excuse to fine you for even the smallest of driving related infractions.
Read our brief guide below where we attempt to answer some of the most common traffic fine related questions.
What Can You Receive Fines For?
As in almost any country, traffic fines can be issued for any number of offences ranging from the very minor to the very serious. These include:
- Not wearing seat belts
- Double parking
- Illegally parking
- Drink driving
- Reckless driving
- Not giving way
- Having too many passengers
- Driving through a red light
- Not stopping at a stop sign
- Driving under the influence of drugs
How Are Fines Issued?
This will depend on a number of things including whether you are resident or non-resident in Spain.
If you are a non-resident, fines usually have to be paid on the spot. The police also have the right to escort you to a hotel or holiday accommodation you are staying in or even a cash machine in order to collect payment.
If it is a speeding fine from one of the many speed cameras, you will receive your fine in the post.
If you are non-resident in Spain and are using a hire car, you may receive the fine via the car hire company or the car hire company may charge you an admin fee and pass on your details to the police. You will then receive a penalty notice from them directly. This can then be paid online via the DGT website (See further below).
Important Update: Under a new EU cross-border agreement (2015/413), each Member State of the European Union will have the power to track down and identify a driver regardless as to whether they are resident or not. They will then be able to contact the driver, issue and pursue any outstanding penalty fines. The new directive came into force on the 6th of May 2015. Further information can be found at our page EU Introduces New Cross-Border Traffic Law To Make Drivers Pay-Up.
How Much Are The Fines?
The level of the fines in terms of cost and points on your licence are determined by the severity of the offence. Parking penalties will end up with a smaller fine unlike a speeding violation which could cost you up to 600 Euro's and up to six points on your driving licence.
The cost of the fines may also vary slightly from region to region.
Who Can Issue Traffic Fines in Spain?
According to current Spanish traffic laws and jurisdiction only Guardia Civil police officers wearing the famous luminous yellow jackets (see image at top) with the insignia "TRAFICO" are allowed to issue on the Spot fines. If you find yourself in a situation whereby the local or national police ask for money then refuse to give it. Instead, ask for the fine to be processed and signed by the accompanying officer on the scene.
There have been a number of reports of Police who are not permitted to issue on the spot fines doing the opposite, do not fall victim to this growing problem.
You may want to read the following article on How To Identify An Unmarked Spanish Police Car.
Penalty Points System
In Spain, there is a penalty points system just like any other country. Every new driver starts with 12 points and can have points deducted depending on the severity of motoring offence. If you have not lost any points after three years you are awarded an extra two points and after four years another one point is added giving you a maximum of 15 points.
Once a driver loses all of their points, they then lose their licence and will have to take a 30 hour driving course and sit the driving test again.
As a rule of thumb the following may apply.
- Six-point deduction – drink driving (over 50mg per 100ml); refusing to take a breath test; driving at more than 150 per cent of the speed limit (e.g. over 75kph in a 50kph zone); dangerous driving.
- Four-point deduction – driving at more than 40kph over the limit (unless this is over 150 per cent of the limit, in which case you incur a six-point deduction); drunk driving (over 25mg per 100ml); jumping a 'give way' or 'stop' sign or a red light; throwing rubbish out of the car; dangerous overtaking; putting a cyclist in danger when overtaking him.
- Three-point deduction – failing to maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front; driving between 30 and 40kph over the limit; driving without lights in poor visibility; using a hand-held mobile phone or wearing headphones while driving; not wearing a seatbelt (or helmet when riding a motorcycle).
- Two-point deduction – stopping on a bend or in a tunnel; driving between 20 and 30kph over the limit.
Do You Get a Discount For Early Payment?
All fines must be paid within 60 days. If you pay the fine within 20 days of receipt, you will usually be given a discount of around 50%.
If you do not receive a fine within three months of a minor offence the fine is revoked. For more serious offences a fine is cancelled after six months.
How Can You Pay the Fines?
So you've been silly and got yourself a Spanish speeding fine or been booked for some other similar offence, but how do you go about paying it?
You can either pay the fine at a local bank or you can pay it online via the DGT website. To pay via the website do the following:
- Go to: www.dgt.es
- Under Tramitas y Multas click "Ha recibido una multa de trafico".
- Click: Pago de Multas
- Click: Pago de Multas sin Certificado Digital
You will then be presented with a form which will ask for certain information such as your passport number, surname and record number. All of this information should be self explanatory. The record number can be found on the penalty notice and is normally entered without the hyphens.
Can You Dispute a Fine?
Yes you can and have up to 15 days to do so in writing to the traffic authorities.
What Happens if you Don't Pay the Fines?
If you don't pay your traffic fines in Spain your vehicle could be impounded and eventually crushed. This means that you may have to pay even more money to get your vehicle back.
So rather than go through all of this hassle, why not stick to the laws of the road in the first place?
WATCH OUT! - Advice From the CAB Forums
As of the 17th March 2015, the DGT/Trafico will be commencing their vigilance plan for secondary roads. In the first two months of 2015, over 88% of fatal accidents were recorded on these secondary roads.
If you are caught speeding, you may also be subjected to alcohol and drugs tests as well as a document and vehicle inspection. The DGT will be undertaking this using around 1800 Guardia Civil patrol Units and 12 helicopters using speed radars. So watch your speed. You have been warned!
Please check out the Citizen's Advice Spain Forums for information on this and other important info for expats in Spain. https://www.citizensadvice.org.es/
If you enjoyed reading this article, please share using the buttons below or why not join us on Facebook by clicking the image below?
Image credit: paulalanputnam / 123RF Stock Photo