Traffic Fines In Spain
The number of traffic fines in Spain has risen over the last few years, leading to many people claiming that it is simply a way to increase income for regional Spanish Governments. We’ve taken a look at how to know if you’ve been fined and what your options are.
The majority of fines are for parking in a prohibited area, particularly in the same town where the driver resides; the second reason is speeding offences. When you receive a fine this will detail the reason, location, date and time along with the economic sanction and, if applicable, the loss of points on the licence.
How Are Traffic Fines Notified?
There are four ways that you can be informed about a fine, or find out if you have outstanding fines:
- You are stopped whilst driving (by the Guardia Civil or by another traffic agent). In this case you will be given a written notification of the traffic violation there and then and will be asked to sign it. If you sign this doesn’t mean you can’t later make a claim against the decision. On the other hand, if you don’t sign it doesn’t mean you’ll have longer to pay. You’ll be given the option to pay on the spot, with a 50% discount. If you don’t pay you can still take advantage of the 50% discount in the following 20 days.
- By registered post. If you were not the driver named, you have 20 days to notify the full details of the person who was driving at the time (name, address and identity document if known). It’s not a good idea to try to get out of this by saying that you didn’t know who was driving, in these cases the original fine will be either doubled or tripled.
- By email. This will only be possible if you have registered online and given your email address for notifications. You’ll need a digital certificate to access this service and have 10 days to read notifications. We don’t suggest using this service as if you’re on holiday and don’t have access to your digital certificate then you won’t be able to see the notifications.
- On the Official Traffic Website. This website is a “notice board” for all notifications that haven’t reached their destination, for example due to a change of address. On this website you don’t need a digital certificate, just put in your NIE or the number plate of your vehicle to see if there are current or non-current notifications.
To Pay Or Not To Pay?
Only you can decide whether to pay upon receipt of a fine or not, but take into account that the reduction for prompt payment is 50% of the fine, so if you are going to pay anyway it makes sense to pay sooner rather than later.
Payment can be made either:
- Online (need digital certificate)
- By calling 060
- At any Post Office
- At any branch of Banco Santander
If you think you shouldn’t have been fined then you can opt to:
- Explain your reasons, in writing, as to why you think you shouldn’t have been fined. You have 20 days to do this and by doing so you lose the chance to take advantage of the 50% reduction. If you receive a reply that your explanations have not been accepted, you’ll have 15 days to pay the full fine. However you also have a new 30-day period to make another claim against the decision. After this your only option is via court.
- Claim via your insurance company (some offer this service along with your car insurance policy) or a specialist company such as Dveulta o Multalia. The average time taken is around three to four months and around 30% of people win their claim. Of course, a specialist company’s fee may exceed the amount of the fine!
- Go to court. You must use a lawyer (mandatory in these cases) and pay the corresponding court fees (these fees cannot be more than 50% of the fine). If the fine includes loss of points, you may feel that it’s necessary to contest it in court. Remember you’ll only get all your money back if you win and the sentence says that the Administration has to pay your costs.
- Regarding traffic fines all the time periods mentioned in any official notifications include the seven days of the week (in other words Saturdays, Sundays and any local or national holiday too). If you decide to pay, make sure you’re not caught out by waiting for the last day.
- It’s not a good idea just to ignore the fine as your bank account could be embargoed.
- Don’t think that just because you don’t have a Spanish driving licence or Spanish plates on your car that you can’t be fined. Initiatives at local and national level have been implemented to ensure that tourists or residents no longer get away with not paying traffic fines.