If you are looking to move to Spain to live, or are indeed already resident here, you must be familiar with traffic fines and how to deal with them once issued.
Whether it's a Spanish speeding fine, a ticket for parking illegally or some other minor infringement, most of us fall foul of the law at one time or another.
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:
You can also be fined when filling up at the petrol station. If you are smoking, using a mobile or have left the radio or lights on, you can be fined up to 200 Euros and have 3 points added to your licence.
You will also want to make sure that your vehicle is clean as a dirty number plate can also mean a fine of 80 Euros.
Another lesser-known offence is to wash your car in the street. You may do this in the UK, but in Spain, it is forbidden and you will receive a fine if caught doing it.
Want to give someone driving lessons? Uh Uh! This is also an offence in Spain as to is driving with your arm hanging out of the window.
How Are Fines Issued?
This will depend on several things including whether you are a resident or non-resident in Spain.
If you are a resident in Spain, a recent story will highlight the importance of why you need to provide the DGT with your correct address details if you move home. In a recent case, a driver moved to Benalmadena but failed to tell the DGT about his change of address.
He then proceeded to rack up 52 speeding tickets on the A7 in Mijas amounting to over 6,000 Euros. As all of the notifications had been sent to his old address, his bank account was then embargoed and he had to go to court to settle things.
If you are a non-resident, Spanish speeding 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 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 a non-resident in Spain and are using a rental car when you are caught speeding, 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 of 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 on our page EU Introduces New Cross-Border Traffic Law To Make Drivers Pay-Up.
How can I check for any outstanding driving fines?
In general, when a traffic violation occurs on any Spanish road, provided that your information is accurate and current in the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) database, you can expect to receive the corresponding notification at your address via postal mail, in the form of a letter.
For this reason, you must make an effort to keep your data up to date. However, in the event of an error, you can check to see if any recent traffic violation fines have been issued against you at the DGT electronic office.
How Much Are Spanish Speeding Fines?
The level of the fines in terms of cost and points on your licence is determined by the severity of the offence. Parking penalties will end up with a smaller fine, unlike a speeding violation which could cost you between 100 to 600 Euro and up to six points off your driving licence. You can also be fined 200 Euros if you have an invalid driving licence.
If you are found to be driving while over the drink-drive limit or under the influence of drugs fines can range between 500 - 1,000 Euros with four to six points.
There is also a fine of 200 Euros and a three-point penalty if caught using a mobile phone while driving and the same for not wearing a crash helmet for motorcyclists.
Adults not wearing a seatbelt and if a child is not restrained correctly, a 200 Euro and a three-point penalty can be imposed.
Not keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front can result in a fine of 200 Euros and a four-point penalty.
You can see a table of the most common sanctionable offences here.
The cost of the fines may also vary slightly from region to region.
Another thing to note is that if you are caught exceeding 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.
The following table highlights the current penalties for speeding in Spain.
Image Credit: https://sede.dgt.gob.es/es/
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 where 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 several reports of Police who are not permitted to issue on-the-spot fines doing the opposite, do not fall victim to this growing problem.
Local Police can, however, report you for any driving offences on urban roads which may result in a fine and/or penalty points being issued.
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 in any other country. Every new driver starts with 12 points and can have points deducted depending on the severity of the 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. Once the licence has been recovered you will then restart with eight points.
As a rule of thumb, the following may apply.
Do You Get a Discount For Early Payment?
All fines must be paid within 45 days. If you pay the fine within 20 days of receipt, you will usually be given a discount of around 50%.
If the fine is not paid within 45 days, it will then be pursued via the State Tax Administration Agency which will add a 20% surcharge to the fine.
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 several ways to pay a traffic fine in Spain. They are:-
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.
If you do not have a clave pin set up, you can pay via credit/debit card at the following official address.
If you do not reside in Spain and have received a sanction, you can pay this via bank transfer directly to the DGT.
You need to make sure that you include the sanction/fine identification number as the reference. It is important to get this right otherwise the fine will be considered unpaid.
If you do not agree with the fine, you may appeal within 20 days providing any evidence that you think is appropriate.
Learn more about appealing a traffic fine in Spain.
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
If you do appeal any fine, you will waive your right to the 50% reduction for early payment.
Learn more about disputing your fine here.
Contacting the Traffic Violations Department
If you have any questions about a fine that you have received or any other relevant questions, you can speak to the traffic violations department via telephone or in writing. Their details are
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?
As mentioned previously, your bank account may also be embargoed
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 are looking to move to Spain and bring your vehicle with you, you must read our article Driving Your UK Registered Car In Spain.
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Image credit: paulalanputnam / 123RF Stock Photo
Updated: January 22, 2024 CET