Has your UK plated car taken a current MOT test?
The UK Driving Agency has on its web site information as to whether your vehicle has taken a current MOT and whether or not it failed. The web address is www.motinfo.gov.uk/. But just think; if you can look easily look for this information, so can the authorities here in Spain when they stop your UK-plated vehicle that may have been here illegally too long. So all those who have a UK vehicle that is overdue for an MOT, be aware. An ITV is not legally acceptable here and will cause the police to suspect that if you have taken one, the vehicle should be on Spanish plates.
Motorcycles now due for ITVs.
LOST YOUR DRIVING LICENCE?
One of the ongoing problems that expats who move to Spain seem to have problems with is the knowledge of the legality of their driving licences (DLs) and also what to do if it is lost. The legalities and the losses are all covered in detail in my book within the 228 pages that are vital knowledge for expat drivers here and, at only €22, 95 it is the cost of a lunch for two in a modest bar so I should not really need to write the following, but here goes. I have also written much about the subject in recent articles and talked about it on REM.FM radio and RTV 340 television. To save me keeping having to answer repetitive emails and phone calls on the subject, the book, which makes a nice birthday/Christmas present for the driver in your life will also make your driving here much safer and less stressful.
People still email me with reports about especially mandatory medicals that some people give here, who should know but obviously do not and give the wrong advice. These include insurance brokers, the Spanish medical clinics where the periodical medicals are taken and some of the smaller gestorias. They say that medicals are not necessary for expats with foreign EU driving licences despite all the evidence to the contrary. My information has been approved by Spanish lawyers and a top gestoria in Marbella as well as my having it in writing in both Spanish (Ministerio Del Interior letter on my web-site) and in English (EU Directives) and although those who are still illegal want to believe that it is not true because they are human and want to take the easiest path, please resist and take the correct action. To not do so could easily lead you into a fine and losing penalty points (yes, as a resident in Spain with a foreign EU-DL), as well as possibly not having an insurance claim payout for damage to your vehicle. Please read the written facts and believe them.
Now losing your DL can be for say three reasons and there may be more. Either you have physically lost it, OR you have been legally banned from driving for motoring offences for medical reasons where you are declared unfit to drive either permanently or for a period of time. The third is that you have inadvertently let it expire. If you have lost a UK-DL, as a resident now in Spain, you can obtain a D737 Certificate form which is issued by the DVLA giving all your current license classifications so you can easily use it to obtain a Spanish DL How to do it is in my book, including obtaining the correct forms in Spain from the Internet. But, unless you have a permanent British address, you cannot obtain a new UK DL, and as a resident here where Spain is your principal home, you are also breaking the law to do so.
OFFERS OF NEW EU DRIVING LICENCES FROM UNOFFICIAL SOURCES.
I see once again that the offers are being advertised for the supply of a genuine EU driving licence for a country, usually Eastern European to replace the one you have lost or even for a classification for which you have not passed a test. Also, if you have been declared medically unfit to drive. The law states in the relevant EU Directive, when you move to another EU country to reside there as you new place of principal residence, you may exchange your existing CURRENT EU DL for one issued by the new country of residence. Offers are being made again of supplying drivers with a genuine DL from countries such as Hungary often without the driver having to even go to that country to collect it. I make no accusations as to how they are officially issued to a non-resident of any of these EU countries and the advertising blurb even suggest that you can obtain a licence for such vehicles as HGVs; without taking a driving test? God and the law protect us from being on the same roads as these drivers who have not passed the test.
The EU Directive and laws of most member states (all are bound by the Brussels Directives anyway) are that you are not allowed to have more than one driving licence document in your possession except for an International Driving Licence which has to be accompanied by the original DL anyway. The IDL is merely a translation in several major languages to help the authorities in countries outside of the EU to understand your original DL. See: www.spainvia.com/IDLhome.htm for more information. It is also an offence also to be carrying a driving licence issued by an EU country where you are not legally residing as stated in the Directive, i.e. 183 plus days a year but at the roadside you may get away with a police check. BUT, if an accident occurs where you especially are liable or potentially so, the lawyers (for the other driver) know the regulations and you can end up with charges of driving with no DL, no insurance and possibly also fraud. So my advice is to think carefully before you seriously consider obtaining such a DL. From 2012, all new DLs, including re-issued ones after a medical, etc, will be EU wide anyway, and Trafico, the DVLA, etc. will eventually have access to the records of all EU countries. Existing DLs will be legal until they expire and the changeover is expected to be completed by 2032.
BIG BROTHER IS STILL COMING.
Although my chosen subject is Motoring in Spain, I often mention new trends or possible pending new legislation in other EU countries because many of the changes there are soon considered by Brussels (or Strasbourg) for installation throughout the EU. Many are good ideas as they are based on the correct studies of why accidents happen and what can be done to prevent them. Many accidents should not be considered as being so, but as “silly incidents” for if drivers and riders obeyed the existing laws and also used common sense, we would all be much safer as we move around the roads. Drinking and driving, using a mobile phone without a hands-free while driving including, would you believe, while typing in text messages, are things that should not be done under any circumstances for it has been proven countless times that they do cause accidents, but drivers still do it regularly as the relatives of the nine Finish tourists “murdered” by the hopelessly drunken driver in April this year on the Costa Del Sol by a driver doing, according to police evidence, over 150 kph in the pouring rain causing the bus taking the tourists to the airport and home, to crash. This, I will argue with anyone was yet another totally unnecessary incident. I write “murdered” for if the driver had been sober and driving properly, those people would be back in the bosoms of their families in Finland now, as well as, of course, the local driver. Driving drunk was a premeditated action on his part no other excuse can be made. As often happens though, he survived ad will now possibly spend time being kept by taxpayers at “His Majesty’s pleasure” as the old saying used to go, and his family is ruined as well. All for a few glasses of alcohol.
I have mentioned that the UK government is considering the same mandatory medical periods system as in Spain. Already with the photo-card DLs (driving licences) we have most EU countries now a ten year expiration period due to the photo obviously for most of us being out of date after ten years, especially us men who have this habit of losing the thatch that keeps the rain off our heads. As I have written before, check the front of your UK DL for the expiry date: 4 C. In Spain, this is covered with the DLs expiring for the different classifications due to a mandatory medical being due, and for expats residents here with a legal UKK-DL this also applies despite what you have been told by those who do not really know. The latest suggestion that the UK government is trying to adopt at great cost to the taxpayers is the installation in all vehicles of speed limiting devices so that vehicles cannot exceed a preset speed limit. When the vehicle approaches the speed limit maximum set for that zone, the accelerator is controlled by the device, not the driver’s foot or hand (motorcycles) and so cannot exceed the limit. Very dodgy if you are overtaking but then if you know the system, you do not then overtake.
At this time the maximum speed that we are legally allowed to drive on the open roads is not more than 20 kph above the signed limit so that an overtaking manoeuvre can be safely executed. Did you know that? Not many people do in my experience but if you have my book, you should do and it is important to know for if you are overtaking where it is considered safe and legal to do so and a mobile (or fixed) radar clocks you at say 120 kph in a 100 kph zone while you are overtaking, you could argue your innocence within the law, using a lawyer of course for the Courts everywhere like to keep their professionals employed.
In this day and age, with the digital electronic age upon us, it is possible to have transmitting units that send a signal to all traffic passing a point where the limit changes so that until that speed zone is passed through to another limit, no vehicles except official and emergency ones can exceed that limit because the speed limiter in each vehicle will be automatically reset for that zone. There are benefits, of course, for when all vehicles are fitted with such a device, there will be no need for speed cameras again and the UK government and local authorities will lose millions in lost speeding fines. The cry from those of us who are thinkers experienced in these matters though is the fact that, especially the UK government, computers and government are like oil and water and should be allowed only due to great need.
And for UK government, read all EU governments. A good time to take up employment as a salesman of such devices, although all new vehicles will be fitted with them at the factory: if it happens. The claims in the UK are that accidents will be reduced by up to 42%, but they are forgetting one fact. Electronic whiz-kids will soon make up a device within the car, but not connected to it, for over-riding the speed limiter. Also, people are getting fed up with the interference of government in their everyday lives where services are failing but the public is forced to pay more anyway. The punishments for speeding are adequate except for when a driver has no DL being banned or just illegal, and subsequently no insurance. Want my opinion? (You are going to get it anyway.) Make it mandatory especially for drivers up to age 25 OR for the first ten years of driving after the test, and voluntary for all the rest of us with the bonus that we all receive an additional 25% discount on our insurance premiums. Or if you are found guilty of a serious speeding offence, you have, say a year “on the box” where your vehicle's speed is limited to say 80 kph (50 mph) as are the first year probationers here in Spain. (After passing the driving test, all drivers are limited to a maximum speed anywhere 80 kph and must display a green "L-plate" in the rear window). But those such as pop-stars who can afford several vehicles can get out of that restriction. But just think too that if a stolen vehicle is unable to speed, no more hazardous police high speed chases ending in disasters. No point in trying to escape.
The general cry in the UK though is one of horror as one more “freedom” is taken away from road users. As I have said before, the golden age of motoring is over, the days when I had a fast motorcycle in the 1950s and 60s that on the old narrow roads would leave even E-type jaguars and Porsches (mainly because with a very competent driver they would still get stuck behind other vehicles or the owners drove them for the image more than the sheer joy of driving very fast on roads where there were no limits out of the towns. Although I would love to be 25 again, somehow, it would not be the same on the roads now. I would probably soon lose my DL as a result of riding my "280 kph motorcycle" within its designed abilities.