Many of the basic rules of the road in Spain are very similar to those across the rest of Europe. Spain has recently begun imposing severe penalties on those not adhering to these regulations.

Rules & Regulations

In Spain the legal age for driving is 18. It is compulsory to wear a seat belt (el cinturón de seguridad) including in the back seats if belts are fitted, and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers wear their belts; in fact, a driver may be fined if passengers are not belted. In addition all dogs must be restrained in a moving car.

Children under 12 years may not travel in the front seats, unless they are over 150cm tall and motorbike drivers may not carry passengers under the age of 12.

Headlights must always be used in tunnels and it is illegal to pass on the right (to “undertake”) in free-flowing traffic. It is illegal to drive with headphones connected to a sound device and mobile cellular telephones may only be used with a “handsfree” system and it is forbidden to carry devices to evade police vigilance (radar detectors, for example).

What to carry in the car

The following documents, or copies certified with an official stamp (fotocopia compulsada), must always be carried in the car:

A valid driving licence, Residence Card/identity card or passport, vehicle registration document (permiso de circulación, vehicle log book), roadworthiness certificate (ITV, or MOT inspection certificate) and proof of vehicle insurance must all be carried. Note: Photocopies of documents can be certified at the local town hall.

The following items must also be carried in a car at all times and not having these can result in a fine if pulled over by the police, or failure of the vehicle roadworthiness test, the ITV (Inspección técnica de Vehículos).

A yellow, orange or red reflective vest which must be accessible without leaving the car, two red warning triangles, spare bulbs and the tools required to fit them, a spare wheel that is inflated and the tools necessary to change it and drivers that need corrective glasses must keep a spare pair in the car. Approved child seats must be correctly fitted and used by children under 12 and/or 150cm.

Driving & Drinking

A driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.5 grams per litre (or a blood alcohol level of 0.15 grams per litre in the case of a driver who has had a licence for two years or less), will be considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol. The amount of alcohol in the system will vary according to weight, sex, normal alcohol consumption and the amount of food in the system.

The police have the power to carry out random alcohol tests on drivers at anytime. Testing is more common around Christmas/New Year and in the main holiday period of July/August. Drivers involved in accidents or who are not driving in a suitable manner will be subjected to automatic testing and the police will confiscate the driving license of a person caught driving over the legal limit.

Failure of a drink drive test has serious implications: the vehicle and driving licence will be confiscated, a hefty fine will be imposed, the driver may even be imprisoned and a driver’s Insurance is void if they cause an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Note: The same strict rules regarding driving while drunk also apply to cyclists.

This article is an extract from an AngloINFO INFOrmation sheet

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Bill Boyd

Director AngloINFO Costa Calida

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