On May 9th, 2014, a new wave of laws came into effect on Spain’s thousands of kilometers of roadways. From small adjustments to major overhauls in legislation, the new laws are outlined in the long-winded Ley 6/2014 modificando la Ley sobre Tráfico, Circulación de Vehículos a Motor y Seguridad Vial 339/1990.
Spain’s roads are controlled by the DGT, or Departamento General de Tráfico. All licensed drivers over the age of 18 are expected to know and comply with the rules of the road. If you want the long version, you can read the hefty document here.
COMO brings you the highlights of the new law, free of Spanish legalese, and digestible so that you can avoid fines and help save lives on the road:
- All bike riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet and small children (under 1.35m tall) may not ride in the front seat of a car or taxi. Children and babies under 15 kilos must be restrained in an approved car seat. The Guardia Civil has the right to seize any vehicle not in compliance.
- Radar detectors are now illegal, as they interfere with systems already in place. However there’s no reason to fret if your GPS incorporates a database of speed cameras and notifies you to slow down. In fact, on most major highways, zones with fixed radars are indicated by signs and the DGT themselves provide a downloadable APP to help you remember where they are!
- Drug use while or before driving is illegal, except in the case of prescription drugs. Any driver presumed to be under the influence will be required to undergo a roadside test. Offenders will be fined 1000 Euros if they are found under the influence of drugs or alcohol at twice the legal limit. Caught drunk driving double over the limit a second time in the same calendar year it doubles to a 2000 Euro fine.
- Speed limits may change slightly, pending approval in June. If passed the limits on some highways will be raised to 130km/h (others will remain at the previous limit of 120km/h). Also remember, surpassing this speed limit by 1 kilometer can result in fines or loss of points.
- However, don’t forget to pay your fines early! Spain offers a 50% discount for fines paid within 20 days, up from the previous 15-day period.
- The Guardia Civil has the absolute right to note a vehicle’s license plate number and prosecute without any other evidence or flagging over the vehicle if they suspect wrongdoing on the road.
- And finally, any vehicle caught committing any driving offense will be reported to the EU country where it is registered under the new EU Directive.
Remember that, as an American, your driver’s license is NOT valid in Spain. If you wish to own a car, you’ll have to get a Spanish driver’s license, or carné de conducir. COMO does not recommend driving without one (or a AAA International Driver’s Permit for those on their 3-month Shengen visa and simply traveling through Spain), as fines can be steep. Trust us, we’ve been there.
Have questions about Spanish roads or getting your driver’s license in Spain? COMO Consulting can help you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message!