As in other countries, you can expect to be fined in Spain for a number of infractions of the traffic code. Speeding, parking where you shouldn’t, not having the right paper work in the car, all carry traffic fines in Spain – some substantial.
An unusual system operates whereby if you pay the fine within a specified amount of time you only have to pay half of the total amount. This makes a terrific difference if you are talking about paying 60€ rather than 120€ and can make the initial fine seem extortionate if you don’t pay on time.
You might receive your fine in different ways depending on what it’s for. Although speed cameras aren’t used as extensively in Spain as they are in some countries, they do exist. There is usually warning of them and if you break the limit you are likely to receive notification in the post.
Other fines might be delivered directly by police officers. It is a matter of routine here in Spain for cars to be stopped and checked. You should make sure that you carry the correct paper work with you including your insurance documents, driving licence, car registration details and that your latest ITV (MO) sticker is displayed if yours is an older car.
You can pay on the spot if you like or can keep your ticket and pay it at a local post office or in some branches of Santander. You can also call 060 to pay or enter the DGT website (Dirección General de Tráfico). If you do decide to pay online you will need a credit or debit card but do not need a digital certificate.
If you don’t pay
The system here in Spain is rather different from many other countries. You will not usually be chased for the payment of a traffic fine. This does not mean that they have forgotten it took place. An unpaid ‘multa’ or fine can still be registered against your car or bike and will need settling before selling or taking your vehicle off the road. In some cases non-payment might even lead to your bank account being embargoed.
If you feel you have been unfairly charged then you can appeal within 20 days in writing. However, by doing this you lose your entitlement to the 50% reduction in fine. In most cases it is probably best to pay the original fine.
Points on your licence
As a driver with less than three years experience in Spain you will have 8 points. Everyone else starts with 12. You can then lose points for various traffic offences – these can be deducted in blocks of anything from 2 to 6 points.
You can accrue more points for ‘good behaviour’. If you don’t lose any points during a two-year period you can get an extra 2 points and in three years you get an extra point. The maximum number you can have is 15.
You can have your licence taken off you if you lose all your points or the offence is severe, such as drink driving. You will then have to complete a short course after you have lost your licence. This course will be conducted in Spanish and you will need to take a translator with you if you are not fluent in the language. At the end you will receive a certificate.
Know the rules
Of course, the best course of action is to try not to break the rules in the first place. Whether you are driving in Spain for a short period of time or live here, you are advised to check what the laws are on the road. They may well be very different from those you are used to.
For example, in some countries it is customary to drive around a roundabout in the middle lane and pull into the outside lane when you are ready to leave the roundabout. In Spain it is usual to drive around the roundabout in the outside lane, whatever your exit point is. The inside lane is for overtaking only.
Making yourself familiar with these different rules will ensure that you drive safely and save yourself some money at the same time.