Updated 2 February 2007
Penalty points for traffic violations - effective July 1st 2006.
The Details including fines and appeals procedures.
This newly introduced system ONLY applies if you drive in Spain using a Spanish driving licence. If with a foreign driving licence, depending on the severity of the offence, you may be fined if you can prove Spanish residence (nearest cash point, if not) or your driving licence confiscated on the spot if the offence is serious enough.
However, from March 2007, the EU has approved the transferring of fines and sentences, including penalty point’s losses between participating EU States, the UK, Ireland and Spain included, where the sentences will apply in the country where the driving licence is issued as well as the whole of the EU. However, like all good intentions, it will take time to set up the administration, especially in many of the newer EU States.
How many points does each driver have?
If you have had a driving licence for three years plus, you are credited with 12points.
If less than three years, or if you have got your licence back after being banned for having lost all your points, you start with eight points.
After three years of "no penalty points loss" driving, you will receive an extra two points to your credit. After that, each three years you will receive one point up to a maximum of 15.
What happens when you lose all your points?
You automatically lose your licence starting within the periods stated below. You will be able to obtain a new one after successfully completing a course and a theory test organised by the provincial traffic department (Jefatura de Trafico). The courses have been arranged at about 200 driving schools around Spain, and the offender has to pay the costs. Your new licence will then have eight points credit.
If you do not lose any more points in the following two years you will recover the full 12 points. If you lost your licence due to very serious offences (incurring the loss of six point penalties) you will have to wait three years to recover the 12 points.
In addition, if you commit serious or very serious offences you could have your licence taken away regardless of the number of points left on it as was, and still is, the law before the new system started.
How long until you recover your licence?
In the case of professional drivers, after three months the first time and after six the second time.
In other cases six months the first time and twelve the second.
In all cases, drivers will have to attend a special course that may be tailored for the offence and pass a new driving test depending on the sentence.
Are points lost on the spot?
No. Points are lost when the punishment has been fixed (Sanción firme) this is:
When you do not appeal against it (Recurso Administrativo) to the issuing authority, e.g. Guardia Civil, Policia Local, etc, or the Provincial Trafico Office within 15 days of being notified of the offence – if you appeal, then you are notified if the appeal has been approved or denied (Notificación de Resolución). If you appeal, you then have first the "Body" to whom the defence has been submitted who will study the evidence and either allow the defence, in which case the charge will be cancelled, or reject the evidence in which case the full reasons must be given in writing to the claimant driver.
The advice (resolution) must state whether the appeal has been finalised, meaning that is the end of the matter and you are either guilty or innocent, or whether you may be allowed to go further to Court to contest the charges. The notice with all information justifying your defence may be sent by registered post or submitted by hand in which case you are advised to get an official dated receipt. It is best to use a lawyer (abogado) at this stage.
The bodies (Guardia Civil, etc) authorised to issue fines and sentences, must do so within:
- Minor (leve) offences . 3 months.
- Serious (grave). 6 months
- Very Serious (muy grave). 12 months.
-- from the day of the alleged offence. If they have not been issued within these time scales, they automatically are withdrawn or expired. However, these terms can be extended by such administrative actions as, for example, locating the offending driver due to the address on the Trafico (or foreign EU records such as the UK-DVLA) computer system not being correct.
However, if during such an extension, a period of six months elapses, the charges will be expired, although left on file, except if due to:
- The driver is responsible for the delays.
- The process is suspended pending the case being transferred to a Court hearing for any reason.
The issuing authority or Trafico has one year then to demand the completion of the sentence or any payment, licence confiscation, etc.
In respect of any charges made by the issuing authority, the charged may apply to the Ministerio del Interior (MDI) with a “recurso de alzada, and the MDI will then use their influence to settle any dispute that the charged may have with Trafico. Note that Trafico is a department of the Ministerio Del Interior. This must be done within one month of the sentence. The decision then is final and it ends the administration stage of the offence, but there is one last action that can be made, called the recurso de reposición against the issuing office which must be made within one month of sentence, or a recurso contencioso-administrativo directly against the issuing administration including the office of the mayor or town hall if applicable, I.e. the authority is a policia local.
The fines for penalty notices are not to be paid until they are made final after all the appeals mentioned above. This is important as to do so before can mean an admission of guilt.
Where to pay (include a copy of the multa/sentence form):
- The collection office of the issuing authority.
- Trafico, either by registered post or by hand.
- A participating Bank where collections are made on behalf of the issuing authority.
If paid within 15 working-days of the first charge, a 30% discount applies. This then assumes admission of guilt.
If paid within 15 work-days of the final resolution date (after the appeals have been rejected), then a 15% discount applies.
If not paid within the above time period, then a procedimiento de apremio will begin where personal goods will be valued and recorded ready for their seizing in lieu of the debt amount which will then be advised at that time. This amount will include all the costs associated with the procedure.
As well as the seizing of personal goods, bank accounts may also be seized plus any pending tax rebates.
If the sentence included suspension of your driving licence this must also be handed over until the payment of fines, or any period of loss of the licence has been satisfied as described in this article.
Can I find out how many points I may have?
The DGT website (www.dgt.es) will have a section allowing you to do so at:
How can I recover points or my licence?
In both cases, a course at an officially appointed centre (200 driving schools nationally) is compulsory. Its cost must be covered by the driver and lessons are given by specialised personnel depending on the nature of the offence, e.g. driving with excess alcohol.
Partial recovery of points: the 12-hour awareness course can be carried out once every two years (once a year for professional drivers) and a maximum of four points can be obtained. It costs €170 at time of writing this advice.
Recovery of driving licence after losing all points: a 24-hour course costing €320 must be attended and a test taken at the Jefatura de Trafico.
The course includes common subjects regarding driving and safety regulations, encouraging group debates and reflection, and specific subjects that affect each driver individually
Special measures for professional drivers.
The law considers a professional (or vocational as described in the UK) driver anyone who, with the necessary driving licences, is employed to drive a transport vehicle, being either for passengers or goods.
The law establishes special benefits for these drivers, mainly reducing by half the licence recovery period as their livelihood is affected.
What happens if I lose pointS?
You can partially recover a maximum of four points if you pass a special course that you can only take once every two years.
WHEN YOU LOSE POINTS:
Stopping or parking on bends, brow of a hill, tunnels, under bridge cross-roads or any other area considered hazardous to traffic flow or pedestrians.
- Stopping or parking on bus lanes or in areas where paint on the road designates no stopping or parking.
- Using radar speed camera detectors (that sense up radar beams), but not the GPS navigation systems that advise the location of cameras.
- Driving without lights when they are necessary in poor visibility or for example on a three lane road where the centre lane is used for overtaking.
- Riding a motorbike or moped with a passenger under the age of twelve.
- Changing of direction against traffic signs or road markings.
- Driving and using a mobile phone manually, headphones, earphones or any other device that could distract driving concentration.
- Not maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
- Driving without a seatbelt, riding a motorcycle without a helmet and/or other compulsory safety devices.
- Driving on motorways or highways with vehicles that are forbidden access.
- Driving a vehicle with 50% or more passengers than the maximum allowed for its category, except buses and coaches.
- Driving a vehicle without a licence for its category.
- Throwing objects on the road or nearby areas that may cause a fire or accidents.
- Negligent driving creating danger for other vehicles.
- Exceeding speed limits by over 40kph providing it is not also 50% above the limit. If the excess is between 30 and 40kph, this will be punished with three points and two points if it is between 20 and 30kph.
- Not respecting the right of way, ignoring a red traffic light or not stopping at a STOP sign. (Note the police regard a STOP where the wheels are stationary for four seconds.)
- Breaking overtaking rules, being a hazard to oncoming vehicles or overtaking in low visibility areas or circumstances.
- Endangering or blocking the way of cyclists when passing them.
- Causing a hazard by illegal parking/waiting on a motorway or highway.
- Ignoring the signals or instructions of a traffic officer.
- Accelerating or carrying out other manoeuvres that hinder overtaking vehicles.
- Drink driving if the alcohol level found in breathalysing tests is above 0.50mg% (0.30mg% for new or professional drivers) If the level is between 0.25 and 0.50 (0.15 to 0.30 for professional or new drivers) the loss will be four points.
- Driving under the influence of drugs, stimulants and similar substances.
- Reckless driving, driving in the wrong lane or taking part in illegal races.
- Refusing to undergo tests for alcohol, drugs, stimulants and other substances.
- Driving at more than 50% over the maximum speed limit, providing this is at least 30kph above that limit.
- Professional drivers who exceed by more than 50% the maximum permitted time at the wheel, or reduce the obligatory rest times by more than 50%.
A table as used by the police/Guardia Civil for the speeding penalties is available in this web site -
It may be printed out from the web site. It has been translated into English by the author.
Note that the authority issuing the charge for any listed offence can, in addition to debiting penalty points, also issue a fine, and the table gives the limits as a guide in the two right hand columns.