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 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. You may want to share, bookmark or save this page for future reference in case you receive a fine.
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
- Not having a valid driving licence
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 rental car, you may receive the fine via the hire car 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. You can also be fined 200 Euros if you are in possession of an invalid driving licence.
The cost of the fines may also vary slightly from region to region.
Another thing to note is that if you exceed the speed limit by more than 60 Kph on an urban road or 80 Kph on a major road, the offence is then classed as a criminal offence and can result in a prison sentence of between six and twelve months or community service, loss of your licence for up to four years and a large fine. Further details here.
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 have a number of ways to pay a traffic fine in Spain. They are:-
- Debit or Credit Card via the DGT Website here
- Bank Transfer to the DGT bank account
- In Person at your provincial traffic office (Debit or Credit Card)
- At a Caixa Bank - You can pay in cash.
Go to the following official web address in English to see all of the choices including bank account numbers to send your payment to and your nearest provincial traffic office.
Can You Dispute a Fine?
Yes you can and have up to 20 days to do so in writing or via fax to the traffic authorities. Send any proof or evidence you may have to
- Fax: 0034 902512151
- Post: CTDA – Post Office Box 505 – León 24080 SPAIN.
If you do appeal any fine, you will waiver your right to to the 50% reduction for early payment.
Contacting the Traffic Violations Department
If you have any questions about a fine that you have received or any other relevant question, you can speak to the traffic violations department via telephone or in writing. Their details are
- Telephone - 0034 902 508 686 (Monday - Friday 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, Saturday 8:00 am to 3:00 pm)
- Fax - 0034 902 512151
- In Writing: CTDA - Apartado de Correos 505 - CP 24080 - LEON
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?
You may also want to read our related posts about Car Road Tax in Spain, How To Deal With A Road Traffic Accident, Spanish Driving Licences and Expats In Spain Must Renew Driving Licences After 2 Years.
If you enjoyed reading this article, please share using the buttons below or why not join us on Facebook by clicking the image below?
Private Health Insurance in Spain
If you are an expat living in Spain, take a look at our range of Sanitas health insurance policies starting from only €13 per month.
Image credit: paulalanputnam / 123RF Stock Photo