What not to do when you get stopped for speeding.
2 Dec. 2005
I have had a phone call from an unfortunate and annoyed fellow Brit. in the Canary Islands, who due to his ignorance of the Law in Spain, and this is not an insult in anyway as we are all ignorant of many things, has just effectively been banned from driving for two months.
I say effectively because he was stopped in a trap doing 100 kph in a 60 zone. This is 67% over the speed limit, and the the law allows 20% over before any penalty is issued, which I think is very fair, but 67% is way over the limit. Of course, the gentleman concerned, not named here for courtesy reasons, has told me that he did not see any limit signs showing it was a 60 kph zone, but he was ignorant of the following: -
1. When you are issued with adenuncia for any traffic offence, you have two months to dispute it. This is when it pays to join one of the Spanish "insurance" companies that specialise, for an annual premium, in having free advice available, usually from a local lawyer who is part of the team, and he/she will take up the case on your behalf. If it is a speeding fine, then these are usually squashed, as I have been advised by a Spanish lawyer friend, by simply disputing the case by letter, and as the police or Guardia Civil do not like wasting a day or more in Court, it is usually good enough to just drop the case. But do not expect any assistance if the charge is driving drunk as this is an offence that can easily be avoided.
2. Our pensioner friend paid the €100 fine that was levied with the other penalty in the next paragraph, effectively admitting guilt.
3. He also was banned from driving for a month, and not knowing the law, he stopped driving from the date shown on the "ticket" he was given at the time. He thought he was obeying the driving ban.
4. Now just over two months later, he has had a letter from the police demanding that he brings his driving licence into the station for a month, as the ban now starts. This is because the authorities wait for two months as the defendant has this period to dispute the case, for example, by using a lawyer. So he has effectively had a two month driving ban, one self-imposed, the other by the police/courts.
5. To add insult to injury, our unfortunate driver reports that the ticket given to him has the information written on it that the offence occurred somewhere else, and this would have been an easy case to get dropped, I am sure.
It is too late now, but if it had happened to me, I would have gone back the same day and looked for the 60 kph sign. It may have been hidden behind an overgrown tree branch, or similar. Or what if a truck had been parked where the sign was, blocking the viewing of it to drivers? With my cheap, “use once only camera” in the car, I could have taken photos that would have got the case dropped. My book recommends carrying one, they cost only €6 to 10, and can save you many times this amount.
Looking at the advice table issued by Trafico and the Ministerio el Interio and also printed in my book, Second Edition, on page 52, where the various limits and penalties are stated, I see that our friend in this case could have been fined up to €300 and banned for up to three months. So he was given a relatively low penalty, but it must be galling to think that it might have been successfully disputed.
The secret is I guess, look around for the speed signs and make sure that you are within the limit. After all, like our friend here, many of us are retired so do not need to race around anymore, especially with the high cost of fuel now.
As for the "insurance" for driving offences, I wonder if enough English speaking residents here are interested enough to encourage the companies concerned to offer the service in English? If you are, drop me a line, please. Enough replies and I will suggest it to a national one.
Now the next problem our friend has is telling his insurance company as this action is usually detailed in the policy. Then his insurance premium might go up next year!
Looking for a practical Christmas present this year, or at any time. The bookMOTORING IN SPAIN, SECOND EDITION is ideal if the driver in your life, even if it is you.
MOTORING IN SPAIN, SECOND EDITION, ISBN No. 84-609-7295-X. If there is no bookshop stocking it near you, please send me a post office giro chequeo (postal order) for €16,50, and I will send you one in a padded envelope, post free within Spain.
My address is Urb. Playas de Arenal 94, C/ Cervantes, Las Chapas, Marbella 29604, Malaga. The name is Brian J Deller.
THE FOREIGN EU DRIVING LICENCE SAGA CONTINUES.
2 Dec 2005
Those of you who have my latest book and read my articles in the Press or listen to REM-FM radio, know that it is legal to drive, as a resident in Spain using a foreign EU driving licence. By now all the policing authorities should know as well but it has taken a year in some places for the message to get through.
To save time rewriting the details again, I have copied E-mails to and from a reader on the subject, that will temporarily give the latest advice as I know it. When I have something positive in writing, I will up-date this paragraph.
You may or may not remember my contacting you before and after my purchasing your excellent book regarding the legality of using our UK driving licence over here in Spain. We live here ( with residencia) and after reading your book and the registration of our licence at the respective Traffico, mine would be Alicante and yours I believe was advised Murcia (No it is Malaga). The question was, "do we pay for this registration as suggested within your book". You advise that you would be registering your wife's licence and would advise as to the routine. Do you have any information to assist me please?
I do understand the requirement to be legal within Spain, and wish to do so, and I take note of the situation regarding the periodic medicals as explained, but even that in the latest Round Town News throws a fox within the chicken coup.
Reading the various freebie newspapers there would appear to be a lot of contradiction, and changes on a virtual daily basis exist with those who legislate within Spain and the experience of those who have done it. The mind is boggling as to which way is up.
Can you offer some way forward to close this topic.
Thank you in anticipation of your reply.
Yes, I remember you. I hope you and yours are well. The situation seems to have changed in the last two months as a reader of the RTN paper was stopped in the Gran Canaries in September, and fined Eur 450 for having a UK license in a Spanish plated car he owned. He is resident there. Not all the local authorities are up to date it would seem.
I sent him a copy of the Spanish Govt. letter advising that this was now legal, and heard no more until Barrie Mahoney, who is the editor of the RTN in the Gran Canaries, advised me that with the help of the British Consul (BC) there, they helped the reader in question get the fine withdrawn.
The plot thickens because according to the BC there, only UK licences issued before January 1990 have to be registered now for language reasons, and it is not necessary for the EU types (folding card and credit card) with the ring of stars on them to be registered. However, this causes a problem, because as in the relevant EU Directive, the laws of Spain (in this case) must be obeyed by these foreign resident licence holders, and the same applies for the similar situation in the UK for PSV and HGV resident foreigners, licence holders there, and I have that in writing from the DVLA. There are no medicals in the UK for ordinary "B" etc. licence holders until age 70, but they may be considering adopting the Spanish system as intimated in the Press and on TV.
Incidentally, I live near Marbella, Malaga Province, not Murcia.
To clarify the situation as my E-mails do not get answered at Malaga Trafico (the excellent DVLA has never been more than 48 hours), and phoning is now a major task which ends up speaking with a person there who does not know anyway, I have asked the BC here in Malaga, Mr. Bruce McIntyre, who is very helpful in these matters, to ask at the highest level. It has been a week now (but he is away a lot), so I will enquire for any progress next week and when I know in writing for sure, I will put it on my web site and in an article in the papers.
The problem is that foreign residents with original (non-Spanish) licences must still have the medicals every 10/5 and 2 years depending on age. With a Spanish licence, as they have (or should have) your address, you receive an aviso (advice letter) with 3 month temporary licence so after taking the simple medical locally, you can renew the licenceby post and still legally drive (in Spain) in the meantime.
What we also need to know is how do Trafico record the medical. Is it on the DVLA Form D740, or do they change the licence for Spanish one as they cannot alter the foreign licence, even to put the local Spanish address on it, or do they issue a form to use with the foreign licence? Or do they do nothing except just fine those who have not had a medical when caught?
My suspicion is that they have not yet decided because there is no information in the Trafico web-site. Watch the Press and my web site for news.
Brian J Deller
WATCH THIS SPACE.
DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENCE IN CADIZ.
Many of the Spanish-based readers will have seen this in the papers, but there are those who are reading who live outside of Spain. In fact, I had a query earlier this year from Australia, so I make no excuse for including items of interest about Motoring in Spain in these columns for those who will not have seen the item.
A report here in the Press records that in the Province of Cadiz, through an official government bulletin, states that there has been over 3.000 fines issued for drivers who will did not have a driving licence. In other words, they were not not insured and in some cases, had had their licences withdrawn. Now we all know that this happens everywhere, and the reports for the UK are that there are an estimated million cars on the road everyday where they are not legal.
Cadiz is a quiet province situated in the west of Andalucia, so quiet that only two so far of the new fixed radar traps have been installed there at this time. In Cadiz Province in 2004, 4.000 licences were seized (usually at the road side) for "grave (serious) infringements of the law, but many apparently still carried on driving without the document. However the numbers are decreasing, but we must remember that every driver without a licence is uninsured so in the event of an accident, this can cause serious problems for the legal drivers who only have basic cover such as Third party, Fire and Theft, and there are many like this, especially the younger drivers due to the very high cost for them.
The Press article goes on to state that the costs of learning to drive now is on average, between €980 to €1.560, depending on the student's ability. For those who are not familiar with the learning system here, students must first pass a theory examination before going to the practical driving in specially adapted cars with dual foot controls. Students are not allowed to have private lessons with "dad" on the public roads including car parks etc. Then they must pass the test, after which they have to have an "L" plate in the rear window for one year, and they then are restricted to a maximum of 80 kph.
For the English speaking residents, usually the teenagers of parents who have settled here, unless they are fluent in Spanish, there are very few licensed schools that teach in English. For those who have a foreign licence that cannot be exchanged (see my book for more information on this) the theory can be passed (in Marbella, it can be taken in week of evenings), and it usually only takes two lessons driving around the test areas before the "student" is ready for the test.
Many of the younger Spanish drivers have no licence because of the very high cost of legally obtaining one. Makes my learning in an afternoon in a 1934 Austin 7 on the back country roads in Buckinghamshire seem positively dodgy, but the Suez mini-war was on, and petrol was in very short supply so no licensed driver was needed to be in the car. And the roads were virtually deserted.
Trafico reports that in 2004, there were 73.929 accidents in Spain resulting in death or serious injury, and of these, 1.503 drivers did not have a licence. This is 2,03%. With less serious accidents, the total was 88.000, and 1.794 drivers did not have a licence, or 2,04%. However, with the increased number of officials and the attention being paid to the roads by the government, the number of accidents is, year by year, on a downward trend, but drinking (and drugging) and then driving is still a serious problem, with many of the offenders being otherwise established members of the community. Personally, I never drink more than one glass with a meal and drive for two reasons: -
As a police reservist (volunteer) in South Africa, I have eight occasions where I have had to tell parents or relations, usually at 3 am, of the death of loved one in a road accident, the evening before, and in all cases it serious drinking was involved.
If I have had two or three, and some one runs into me with their vehicle, the smell on your breath will cause problems when the police arrive.
I think that anyone caught over the limit must, in addition to the legal penalties, must be forced to work with a ambulance team for a few weekends to see first hand what happens.
FOREIGN EU LICENCE REGISTRATIONS Update - Monday 5 December 2005
According to the British Consul's office in Malaga, it is indeed mandatory that foreign EU licence holders obey the Spanish laws, as we know and this includes the periodical medicals. However, there is still no written explanation on how they are to be recorded and I have an appointment to see the British Consul next week. I will report on the results, but at this time, it appears that foreign EU licence holders must take the mandatory medicals as explained in my book, and just carry the certificate with them in case they are stopped, or much more important, if they are involved in an accident. If the medical has not been taken, and there is a serious accident, the foreign licence holder may be in a difficult position where, because the medical had not been taken, their licence was not valid at the time.
Please watch this space (again).