Do you usually rent a car when you visit the Costa del Sol for your holidays? Ever wondered what happens when you commit a traffic offence whilst driving a hire car? Well, we highly recommend you read on as we’ll be outlining everything you need to know about traffic fines in Spain and how to avoid them!
Your car hire company will charge you for the traffic fine
Many tourists and holiday makers are often under the impression that they are exempt from traffic fines whilst driving in Spain; however, this is a big mistake. If you are in a hire car and are caught speeding or committing any other offence, the fine will be sent to the car rental company who will then pass the charge on to you. Don’t be surprised if you also find an extra charge for administrative expenses as the car rental company has to go through the process of identifying the driver and making the payment to the Traffic Department. You could be looking at an extra 20 to 30 Euros on top of the fine!
Want to avoid traffic fines? Watch out for these offences
The following are some of the most common traffic offences foreign drivers tend to commit; be sure to avoid these and you’ll be saving yourself quite a bit of money (not to mention the hassle factor)
1) Driving under the influence: The Spanish police are getting very strict in the application of fines for drunk driving. The maximum limits have been lowered in recent years to levels where a couple of San Miguel’s will mean a positive reading and a hefty fine. Our advice is that if you plan to drive, stick to the ‘con gas’, it’s not worth the risk.
2) Not wearing your seatbelt: This is another big contributor to the police coffers as many tourists are pulled over for not wearing their seatbelts. Make sure anyone sitting in the back of the vehicle is also wearing them as it is obligatory.
3) Speeding: Another of the main reasons foreign drivers get fined. Watch out for speed traps and cameras as well us unmarked police cars; all of these are favoured by Spanish police to catch speeding drivers. Guests staying at Sunset Beach Club should be careful when driving along the Coast road to Fuengirola as the maximum speed allowed is 50kph! Now, if you’ve been along this road you’ll understand how difficult it is to drive below this speed; however, I myself have fallen to the temptation to drive faster on this stretch and suffered the rather harsh consequences: 400 Euro fine and 3 points off my license… Ouch!
Quick tip: You can download special applications available for iPhone or Android which alert you when there is a speed trap ahead. Although not 100% reliable they certainly help your odds
4) Parking badly: Be really careful where you park your hire car. Common sense prevails here but if you’re caught double parking or leaving your car in an area covered by solid yellow lines you run the risk of being fined or, worse still, getting your car towed away with the added cost that that would entail.
Paying your fines
Up until recently, it was possible to pay traffic fines on the spot in cash; that is no longer the case. As of the 4th March 2013, it is forbidden to pay local spanish traffic fines in cash. These are your options if you wish to pay:
- Make the payment via the Post Office or Santander Bank
- Call 060 and pay with your debit or credit card
- Pay online via the DGT (Traffic authority) website
Quick note: If you pay the fine within 20 days of the infraction, a 50% reduction will be applied.
For those tempted to leave the country without paying traffic fines…
The Sur in English newspaper recently reported that a new system is being set up to help authorities collect funds from fines issued to drivers resident in other European countries.
Turns out that towns and villages in the province of Malaga are owed approximately 3 million Euros in unpaid traffic fines issued to foreign drivers! With this new system, these town halls now have a great chance of recovering many of these funds thanks to an agreement reached between the provincial government and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) to implement a service tracking down drivers with outstanding fines across Europe.
Operated by the firm NIVI Gestiones, this new service is based on reciprocal agreements between Spain and other countries. Foreign drivers will be notified of their fines in a letter written in their own language with passwords allowing them to access more information online.
One interesting point: The system cannot oblige foreign drivers to pay up as there are no Europe-wide mechanisms for enforcing the payment of administrative penalties.
So next time you visit the Costa del Sol and rent a car, make sure you remember the above points to ensure a fine-free holiday. Have you ever received a traffic fine in Spain? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below.
Don’t forget that you can contact the leisure desk at Sunset Beach Club for information about renting a car whilst on holiday with us.