Spain has new DGT regulations, applicable from March 2022. At Yellowcar we want to summarise the main changes in both the rules and the penalties for traffic fines, how the updated points system works and answer questions about what happens if you don’t pay a fine.

New DGT regulations

The new Traffic and Road Safety Act came into force on 21 March. This law will henceforth regulate the circulation of all vehicles, including not only motor vehicles but also bicycles.

This update, among other changes, modifies the current penalty system in order to penalise more those behaviours that generate greater risk in driving.

In addition, legal coverage is given to the accreditation of driving licences in digital format, through the MIDGT app or the use of Variable Message Signs or other technological means to give orders or instructions for traffic regulation.

Basically, this new law increases the number of points to be deducted in certain precepts, while creating new rules for new means of transport, such as shared mobility and electric scooters.

Point deduction offences

Type of infringement Loss of points / Financial penalty
Distractions: Hand-held use of mobile phone devices while driving. 6 points
Seat belts and protective equipment: Failure to use or inadequate use of seat belts, child restraints, helmets and other mandatory protective equipment. 4 points
Speed: The possibility for passenger cars and motorbikes to exceed the speed limits by 20 km/h on conventional roads when overtaking other vehicles is abolished.
Alcohol: Underage drivers driving any vehicle may not drive with an alcohol level of more than 0.0, both in blood and in exhaled air. This offence remains unchanged and is still classified as a very serious offence. Up to 500 euros penalty
Cyclists: On roads with more than one lane in each direction, it is now compulsory to change lanes completely when overtaking cyclists or mopeds. The number of points deducted for overtaking cyclists who endanger or hinder cyclists without leaving the mandatory 1.5 m minimum separation is increased. It is also forbidden to stop or park on cycle lanes or cycle paths. 6 Points
Objects on the road: This is upgraded from a serious to a very serious offence for throwing objects onto the road or in the immediate vicinity of the road which could cause accidents or fires. 6 points and 500 euros penalty
Motorcyclists: The use of certified or approved wireless devices is authorised for use on the protective helmet of motorbike and moped riders for communication or navigation purposes, provided that it does not affect driving safety.
Low Emission Zones: New serious infringement for not respecting the traffic restrictions derived from the application of the protocols for pollution episodes and low emission zones. 200 euros penalty
Fraud in driving licence tests: It shall be a very serious offence to use intercommunication devices not authorised by regulations in tests for obtaining and recovering driving licences or licences or other administrative authorisations to drive or to collaborate or assist with the use of such devices. In addition, the applicant may not take the licence tests again for a period of 6 months. 500 euro penalty
Anti-starting breathalyser (alcoholock): From 6 July 2022, drivers of vehicles used for the carriage of passengers by road which have an interface for the installation of anti-starting breathalysers will be obliged to use these devices.

This is the updated table with the new DGT regulations, whose main changes can be summarised as follows:

  • From 3 to 6 points: Driving while holding mobile phone devices in your hand. Loss of 3 points for manually using mobile phone systems without holding them in your hand.
  • 4 to 6 points: Throwing objects that can cause fires or accidents onto the road or in the vicinity of the road.
  • 4 to 6 points: Overtaking while endangering or hindering cyclists.
  • 6 points: Overtaking cycles or mopeds without leaving the minimum separation of 1.5 metres.
  • 3 to 4 points: Failure to use seat belts, child restraint systems, seat belts and other protective equipment. It is also cause for loss of points not to make use of them properly.
  • 3 points: The mere fact of “carrying in the vehicle” radar or cinemometer detection mechanisms.

3 points: Driving with mobile phone devices fitted between the helmet and the user’s head.

Driving licence point system

In this respect, there are also important changes to the points-based licence.

  • From now on, the time that has to elapse before a driver can recover his initial points balance is 2 years without committing offences. Until now, this period of time varied according to the seriousness of the offence committed: two years for serious offences and three years for very serious offences.
  • The law also incorporates a new way of recovering points through “safe and efficient driving” courses given by associations, drivers’ clubs, insurance companies or driving schools. Taking these courses will be compensated with 2 additional points up to a maximum of 15 and with a maximum frequency of one course of each type every 2 years.
  • The DGT allows you to leave your driving licence at home as long as you present it on your mobile phone in digital format, using the miDGT App.

What happens if I run out of points on my licence?

With the new DGT regulations, when a driver obtains his driving licence, he does so with a balance of eight points.

If in the following 24 months he/she does not commit any offence that results in the loss of points, he/she will automatically add 4 points. To reach the maximum balance of 15 points, another six years will have to pass without losing any points.

Drivers who lose all their points and recover their licence do so as if they were novices, i.e. with eight points.

As we said, with regard to the recovery of points, the period for recovering the initial balance of points is two years if no offences are committed that lead to the loss of points. At the same time, the option of taking courses to obtain up to two points every two years has been introduced.

What happens if you don’t pay a fine?

If you receive a traffic fine, you will have a certain amount of time to pay it. Initially, you will receive a discount on the fine, but as the days go by, the amount will increase as you do not comply with the established deadlines for payment.

Finally, if you do not pay a DGT fine within the established time, the Tax Agency will seize your accounts or assets.

Therefore:

  • If you have actually committed the offence and there is no option to appeal, it is best to pay the fine within the first 20 calendar days of being notified of the fine, as you will receive a 50% reduction in the amount due to the so-called ‘prompt payment’.
  • If you do not pay the fine within the 20 days of the voluntary period, the ordinary period begins, which is extended by a further 25 days. In this case, you must pay 100% of the fine.

Once the ordinary deadline has passed, the penalty will be passed on to the State Tax Administration Agency, which will be responsible for collecting it with a 20% surcharge, plus the corresponding notification costs and interest for late payment. In other words, a fine of around 50 euros can exceed 200 euros in the event of non-payment.

If you do not respond to the enforcement procedure to pay the DGT fine, you will directly receive a notice of seizure, i.e. your bank accounts or assets will be seized.

When does a DGT traffic fine expire?

On the other hand, you should know that from the time you receive notification of a fine from the DGT until it ceases to be valid, it must be no less than 4 years.

Do I get points deducted if I am a foreigner?

If you live abroad, travel to Spain and choose to rent a car in Malaga, the national traffic regulations also apply to you.

In addition, since 2015, fines resulting from offences committed by foreign drivers in Spain have been sent to their country of origin. Currently, all EU countries apply the cross-border exchange of information on traffic offences, except for the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark.

The eight offences that will always hit you at home

The European Directive regulating the cross-border exchange of traffic information specifies eight types of offences that will be communicated to the offender regardless of the European country where the offence is committed. They are as follows:

  • Speeding.
  • Not wearing a seat belt or other approved restraint system.
  • Running a traffic light, stop sign or yield sign.
  • Driving with alcohol levels higher than those established by regulations.
  • Driving under the influence of narcotics, psychotropic drugs, stimulants and any other substance with similar effects.
  • Not wearing a helmet when riding a motorbike.
  • Driving in a forbidden lane, improper circulation on the hard shoulder or in a lane reserved for certain users.
  • Using a mobile phone or other communication device while driving.

However, it is important to know that:

  • There is no possibility to attach a foreign national. For practical purposes, the defendant will receive notices of obligation to pay, but if he or she decides not to pay, the fine remains uncollected.
  • Traffic fines issued in other EU countries, such as Spain, other than the country of origin, only entail a financial penalty and not the loss of points, since not all European countries are governed by Spain’s points-based licence.
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