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Drinking and Driving:

The very high death rates in Spain (in the top 3 in the EU) have made Spain impose very strict drunk driving laws. Do not drink and drive! The legal drink-drive limit is currently 0,5 grams per liter of air using a breathalyzer. The penalties are very high including losing your license on the spot, boosted by the new 'rapid justice' Courts, as are heavy on-the-spot fines for traffic offences. You will not be allowed to leave the area until you have paid any fine or appeared in Court, including spending time in the cells if you cannot pay in cash. New drivers are effectively forbidden to drink and drive, with a very low 0.1 mg/l limit.

Seat Belts:

It is compulsory for all in the car to wear seat belts, both front and rear where fitted. The driver is responsible for any fines where passengers are not wearing an approved belt. Children under 12 years of age are not allowed in the front seats (unless they are over 150 cm or 4 ft. 9 ins, then they can unofficially get away with it. It apparently has to do with being secure in the safety belt). Also, if seated in the back, the belt must fit correctly, or a special 'raising seat' must be fitted. Animals must be restrained when in the passenger section and not allowed to jump around.

Cell Phones:

The use of cell phones while driving is prohibited. Hands-free kits are permitted, but they are not allowed to have earpiece attachments. (Astonishingly, 98% of Spaniards don't know this!) Even at the side of the road. You have to pull off the road completely away from any traffic. You may also not have any device in your ears to listen to music or your mobile phone etc., only allowed is something for enhancing your hearing, i.e. a deaf-aid. Sadly, you still see erratic driving where a mobile is in use, but penalty points and fines can now be awarded. Those who break the law face fines of up to 300€.

Navigation Aids and DVD's, etc:

This is a grey area of the law. Some say these aids are illegal, yet they are now commonplace. The driver must not use any screen based aid to navigation (or entertainment) while on the road. You must pull completely off away from traffic. (It makes sense really; after all, you are not allowed to drive down the road with a map on the steering wheel). DVD players and screen based devices other than those directly needed to operate the car must be positioned so the driver cannot see them. However, in reality, the police rarely have anything to do with this law.

Speed Trap Detectors:

You are not allowed to have a radar speed detector in your vehicle, let alone use one.

Driving Age:

To drive in Spain you must be aged 18 or over. To rent a vehicle you must be 21 or over. Many companies also require you to have held your driver's license for a minimum of one or two years. Remember that you will also require a credit card to rent a vehicle.

Using Indicators:

The law operating in Spain regarding the use of indicators on motorways is being strictly enforced. You risk being fined for not indicating before overtaking and again before pulling back to the nearside lane after overtaking. Also, ensure you do not cross the solid white line as you enter the motorway from a slip road, but wait until the line is broken.


Overtaking can only be done on the left side of the car that you wish to pass. Take care when overtaking - allow more space between you and the car in front so you can see further down the road ahead.


When approaching a roundabout give way to traffic already on the roundabout, on your left, unless signed otherwise.


Dipped headlights should be used in poor daytime visibility. Motorcycles must use dipped headlights during the day at all times.

Good Samaritan:

There is also a little known rule obliging a motorist to stop at the scene of an accident and give assistance as necessary (bare minimum is to call 112, where it is possible to obtain an English speaking operator); although there was in the past an obligation to ferry an injured person to the nearest first aid post, current best practice advises against this owing to likelihood of spinal injuries etc. However, failure to assist a person in danger is a criminal offence.

Losing Your License:

If you are stopped by the police or interviewed at the scene of an accident and you are showing signs of being incapable of driving the vehicle for any reason, the police are empowered to immediately take away your driving license and you could lose it if found in breach of the Law. There are laws affecting penalty points that are different (more restrictive) for new drivers. The Spanish government is determined to reduce the high accident rates on the roads. NEW LAWS dictate that if you are caught driving without a license it is classed as a criminal offence and not a driving offence and you will face an immediate 6 months in jail.

Fines for Motoring Offences in Spain:

New fine rates have recently been published, and over set limits in each location (autopista, town, etc.) you can be arrested on the spot. Speed traps are becoming quite frequent but not as bad as in the UK with cameras. Fines imposed for speeding are calculated at 6€ per kilometer over the speed limit and are payable on the spot.

There are fines for not carrying the right documentation also so make sure you have all your details with you and drive carefully. A common fine currently being issued is for not having lights on when it's raining. The fine is around 200€. Fines for other offences are calculated on the severity of the offence and there is a table for the guidance of the police and Courts.

If you are a tourist without assets in Spain, all fines are payable in cash 'on the spot'. Ensure an official receipt is issued by the officer collecting the fine.


It is prohibited to carry children in your arms.
No one less than 12 years of age can sit in the front, unless they use a device approved for this purpose.
Children under three years must use an approved restraint system suitable for their height and weight and must always be placed in the back seat.
Any person over three years of age with a height less than one and a half meters must use a restraint system adapted to their size and weight.
These instructions also apply to taxis, so if you want to travel with a baby in a taxi, you must carry an approved restraint system


If you are involved in a minor accident you and the other driver can sort it out yourselves. Otherwise call the Police on 112. Get the license number, name and insurance company of the other driver. Then contact the rental car company and/or your insurance company. Should you have a crash, don't argue with the police and refer to them politely as Senor or Senorita.