When driving a hire car or rental car in Spain, it is wise to be aware that fines for traffic offences are strictly enforced in Spain. It is compulsory for non-residents to pay the traffic fines on the spot unless they can present a Spanish bail bond or an address in Spain or company who will guarantee payment of the fine. If the fine cannot be paid or guaranteed, the vehicle will be impounded. Normally there is a discount of 30 percent for immediate settlement.
Any traffic ticket issued on imposing the traffic fine must contain the following items:
- Description of the vehicle’s offender (plate number…).
- Details of the offender.
- Description of the offence.
- The police agent identification number.
- The term for appealing and for informing traffic authorities who was the driver at the time of the offence.
Who is responsible for committing the traffic offence?
- The vehicle’s owner is responsible for those infractions referring to the vehicle’s documentation, the vehicle’s safety conditions and non-fulfilment of the mandatory vehicle inspection (ITV).
- The driver is always responsible for the traffic violation, regardless who is the owner of the vehicle. First step upon receiving a traffic fine, is informing the police who is the offender.
- If the offender is under 18 years of age, either his parents, tutors, or those persons in charge of the minor guardianship, will be jointly responsible for the economic fine he is been imposed.
How can you contest the fine to the traffic authorities?
If you want to dispute the charge you have been imposed with, you have 15 working days to file a written dispute before the traffic authorities.. You should have previously provided an address in Spain for such purposes.
Spanish traffic authorities may not accept it, their resolution may be appealed (recurso de alzada) within one month since their refusal. You may also appeal against the second resolution of Spanish traffic authorities before Spanish courts. You will do well to have a Spanish Lawyer disputing your traffic fines.
Driving related crimes in Spain
Some traffic offences may entail the commission of a crime:
- Driving a motor vehicle in Spain under the influence of alcohol over the level of 0.60 mg% is penalized with either imprisonment or a fine or social works, and with deprivation of the driving licence for up to 4 years.
- Speeding exceeding 80 km/h over the legal limit in motorways, or exceeding 60 km/h over the legal limit in city roads will be penalized with the punishments aforementioned.
- Refusal to cooperate to take a breathlizer test to analyse the amount of alcohol in their blood will be treated as disobedience, punishable by a term of imprisonment of 6 months up to 1 year and deprivation of the driving license.
- Rash driving endangering other people may be punishable by a term of imprisonment of 6 months to 2 years and deprivation of driving licence for a term of 1 to 6 years.
Seizure of your vehicle in Spain
Spanish police may seize your vehicle in any of the following circumstances:
- In the event of an accident, when the vehicle cannot continue moving.
- If the vehicle is believed to be abandoned.
- If the vehicle is illegally parked.
- If the foreigner non-resident refuses to pay the fine he is being imposed.
The car may be released after paying the corresponding fees. The owner is entitled to recover any fees paid from the individual who was responsible for the car accident.
There is a system of points loss (a driver starts up with a total of 12 points, 8 points for new drivers-up to three years) to punish traffic infractions, which applies along with the monetary fines. Once a driver has lost all of his points, his driving licence is revoked. For instance, driving along roads with a prohibited vehicle for that road may imply a loss of 4 points, as well as driving without the relevant permit. Using a mobile or hearphones while driving may imply a loss of 3 points, etc.
Which other traffic infractions can make you lose your points? Among others:
- Drink driving if the alcohol level found in breathalysing tests is above 0.25mg%.
- Driving ubder the influence of drugs.
- Rash driving endangering other people.
- Exceeding the number of persons permitted to ride in a vehicle. These shall not exceed 50% the maximum approved for the specific vehicle.
- Not respecting the right of way, ignoring a red traffic light or not stopping at a STOP sign
- Exceeding maximum lawful speeds; at least 20 kph over the speed limits.
- It is mandatory for Spanish cars to be fitted with seat-belts. It is required for all occupants, whether in the front or back seat of a car using the vehicle safety belt. You can be fined for not fastening it.
- The offender may get up to a 30% fine reduction if he pays within the legal term before the Traffic administrative authorities have passed a definite resolution about the traffic infraction.
If you lose all your points, you can recover some of them (up to four) if you pass a driving re-education course that you can carry out only once every two years.
These are only general guidelines and not definitive statements of the law, all questions about the law’s applications to individual cases shall be directed to a Spanish lawyer.