THE FOLLOWING ARE MANDATORY WHEN DRIVING IN SPAIN AND MUST BE CARRIED IN THE VEHICLE AT ALL TIMES:
* VEHICLE REGISTRATION DOCUMENT
* LETTER OF AUTHORITY TO DRIVE, IF YOU ARE NOT THE OWNER OF THE VEHICLE
* CURRENT M.O.T. CERTIFICATE
* CURRENT CERTIFICATE OF INSURANCE (MULTI-LINGUAL ON REVERSE)
* PHOTOCARD DRIVING LICENCE OR INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT, IF YOUR DRIVING LICENCE DOES NOT HAVE A PHOTOGRAPH, A PASSPORT IS NEEDED TO VALIDATE THE DRIVING LICENCE.
* SPARE BULB KIT
* 2 WARNING TRIANGLES
* FIRST AID KIT
* INTERNATIONAL ACCIDENT DECLARATION FORM
* HIGH-VISABILITY VEST - A high viability vest MUST be carried inside the vehicle for EVERY POTENTIAL passenger; they MUST NOT be in the boot of the vehicle. THIS MEANS IF YOU CAR HAS A SEATING CAPACITY OF SEVEN (7) YOU MUST HAVE SEVEN VESTS. Failure to comply will result in a heavy fine.
Children in cars:
Children under 12 cannot travel in the front unless using a suitable restraint system.
Dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility.
Drinking and Driving:
Our advise is don't drink & drive, any reading over 0.5% and the penalty could be anything from a severe fine, withdrawal of your licence, up to imprisonment. New drivers are effectively forbidden to drink and drive, with a very low 0.1 mg/l limit. Drivers of any commercial vehicle now have a limit of 0.3%; please note that this includes ANY vehicle with more than 8 seats including the driver.
These are sections of Spanish legislation:
Any person who is found driving a motor vehicle under the influence of toxic drugs, psychotropic substances, narcotic substances or alcoholic beverages will be sentenced from 8 to 12 weekends arrest or a fine from three to eight months and, in all cases, a driving licence suspension from one to four years.
Any person who, upon request by a police officer, refuses to submit to legally established tests for the purpose of verifying the facts of the preceding article would be charged with an offence of grave disobedience, contemplated in article 556 of this Act.
Any person who driving a motor vehicle with blatant carelessness causes a serious danger to the lives of people will be sentenced from six months to two years, and a driving licence suspension from one to six years.
Those persons who, not qualifying for the offence contemplated in article 550, oppose the authority or its agents, or disobey them gravely, will be sentenced from six months to one-year imprisonment.
What to do if caught drunk while driving:
If you are required to take a breath test, you should behave appropriately and appear to be as sober as possible. Let the officers do their job and show respect. Your actions will be mentioned in any court appearance.
Your lawyer will analyse issues such as procedural defects, suppressed evidence, checking thing such as calibration and maintenance records for the breath test machine, have blood samples independently analysed (if that is the case), negotiate for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtain expert witnesses for trial, contest the administrative licence suspension, etc.
If unfortunately you have been arrested and taken before a judge, here are some key questions your lawyer should ask you to improve your position on a further hearing. The accused should be aware that he has the right not to give evidence against himself, since perjury/false testimony is not applicable to a confession. In other words, and as a judge once put it, the accused has the right to lie as much as he pleases. This should, however, not preclude a lawyer from asking questions connected to the offence the accused is being pursued for.
These are now compulsory if you need to walk on a motorway. In theory, it's now compulsory to carry them, but if you breakdown on the motorway you will be breaking the law if you walk to an emergency phone without one. We strongly advise carrying them at all times. A suitable high visibility vest should be bought, but make sure it complies with BS EN471: 1994 Class 2.
Please remember that speeding and other motoring offences are subject to on the spot fines are issued. Ensure the officer collecting the fine issues an official receipt. Fines imposed for speeding are calculated at 6€ per kilometre over the speed limit. Fines for other offences are calculated on the severity of the offence and on the whim of the police officer.
These are rigorously enforced. Radar traps are frequent. Speeding fines range from 92€ - 301€ and are payable ON THE SPOT.
Autopistas/autovias = 120km/h
Dual carriageways = 100 km/h
Country Roads = 90 km/h
Towns = 50 km/h
Residential Areas = 20 km/h
The law operating in Spain regarding the use of indicators on Autopistas is being strictly enforced. You will 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.
Any gadgets that distract the driver such as TV screens, DVD players, GPS instruments etc are banned.
It is to your advantage not to park where the pavement is painted yellow or a no-parking sign is displayed. In most Spanish towns and cities is difficult to find unmetered on-street parking, but there are spaces marked out in blue, using these requires you to buy a ticket from the attendant or a machine. Also you should remember that these spaces are for short-term parking (maximum 2 hours), should you overstay the penalty can be very expensive. With a foreign registered vehicle you are more than likely going to attract the attention of the "grua" (local tow truck). Getting your car back is a lot of aggravation and about £50 -60 in fines and fees. Believe us, we found out the hard way. Wherever possible try to find underground parking with security, it costs a bit more but is worth it in the long run.
You will notice in your travels that the Spanish will park wherever their car happens to come to a halt, even on crossings, pavements and roundabouts! Do not even consider following suit, it will cost you money.
Should you wear spectacles, you must carry a spare pair in the car at all times.
What if I am involved in an accident?
Here is some advice. Do not sign the accident report. Simply print your name in the space provided for signature. It often happens that the Spanish policeman and the other driver, if he is Spanish, will fill in the details in Spanish in a way different from your version. If your insurance company has a 24-hour emergency number, with an English-speaking person on duty, call them and have them talk directly to the policeman. This may save you problems later if your Spanish is not fluent.
Some other things to take into consideration:
Always expect the unexpected; you need eyes in the back of your head. The Spanish will do things with a car that you have never even thought of in the whole of your life. Stray dogs, children and old ladies think they have a greater right to the road than you. Beware traffic lights are often 20 feet in the air and hard to see in the sun. Don't ever sit at a green light for more than a second, you to be honked. Watch out for pedestrian crossings - especially if you are the pedestrian, they don't mean much to the Spanish motorist except to decorate the road. On dual carriageways, vehicles may overtake on whichever side they feel like and some cars may not show lights (or have any) when it's dark. Watch out for mopeds - especially the ones with the whole family and the dog on board. You may be lucky enough to spot a moped with a new furniture purchase on board. (We've seen TV's, chairs and more). Lastly, a friend, who lives in Spain, explained the local traffic light system to us, GREEN mean GO, AMBER means GO, RED means GO WITH CAUTION.