On Thursday the 20th of March, 2014, the Spanish government approved the amendments to the road traffic laws, with a number of major changes to the rules of the road in Spain. The laws will come into force one month and one day after its publication in the Official State Gazette, although a few elements are still open to discussion for approval in June.
Here are some of the highlights from the legislation, which will shortly come into force.
Foreign residents are now obliged to register vehicles in Spain. Until now, foreign residents must only meet tax obligations set out in the Excise Act, but it was not mandatory to register the vehicle in Spain, which in practice made it difficult for law enforcement.
Children are prohibited from riding in the front seats of cars. Until now, those under 12 years of age were allowed to sit in the front seat, if they do so with the proper child restraint system. Now, the translation of the law dictates that children less than 1.35 metres tall are not allowed to travel in the front, although there are certain restrictive exceptions, such as vehicles without rear seats. The fine for not complying is 200 euro, and this rule also applies to taxis, but the responsibility is given to the parent or guardian, not the taxi driver. Officers also now have the right to immobilise a vehicle which is not fitted with appropriate restraints.
The fine for driving whilst under the influence of alcohol will remain at 500 euro, in the case of driver exceeding 0.5 milligrams per litre of exhaled air and 0.3 milligrams for novice drivers and professionals, such as taxi drivers. The penalty is however doubled should a driver have been previously found driving under the influence of alcohol in the previous year, as well as for drivers with double the permitted rate.
In order to enforce the government´s aim of “zero tolerance” of drug use, a new law to tackle drug use whilst driving, replacing the current legislation that was covered by administrative sanctions, with saliva tests now acceptable, and fines of 1,000 euro. Prescription drugs are allowed, subject to the conditions of their own instructions of use.
Pedestrians are also now subject to drug and alcohol testing, in the event of any offence having been committed, replacing the current legislation that only requires a test in the event of a pedestrian being involved in an accident.
Child cyclists, under 16 years of age, are obliged to wear a crash helmet when riding in towns. This was one of the most controversial sticking points in the legislation, after the government wanted to force all riders in town to wear helmets, finally backing down to force protection to children only. Those responsible for the child will face a 200 euro fine if caught out. The restrictions on minimum speed limits for cyclists on some roads will be lifted, as so far it has been impossible for cycles to travel at the required minimum 50% of the maximum. Other rules aimed at protecting cyclist are also included, such as ensuring 1.5 metres of lateral spacing when passing a bike, allowing cycles to occupy part or all of adjacent or opposite lanes, and ensuring that vehicles involved in overtaking moves must not jeopardise or hinder the progress of cyclist moving in the opposite direction.
The speed on motorways remains at 120 kilometres per hour maximum, although the law does now allow for the increase of permitted speeds, and fines, should certain areas of highway be seen as acceptable to be increased to 130 kilometres per hour. The speed on some roads may well decrease though, as a new section has been included to fine drivers on some roads who are speeding at the lower end of the spectrum.
The new law expressly prohibits the use of radar speed detectors and imposes a penalty of 200 euro, plus the loss of 3 points, as well as a the continual 6,000 euro fine and the decrease of six points in the case of using inhibitors. However, it is legal to use devices which provide information on the location of safety cameras, which are freely published by the Dgt on their website, but drivers must avoid using them whilst driving to avoid distractions.
A traffic law enforcement officer may now issue a fine without the need to stop the vehicle. Until now, certain surveillance activities have proved difficult when it came to the required identity of drivers, but this element will be removed by the filing process of the vehicle.
Drivers will become responsible in the event of hitting or killing a large animal on the roads. Until now, the driver was only responsible if it were proven that a law had been broken which led to an incident, now the responsibility is on the driver, unless negligence can be proven in the event of a lack of speedy repairs to fencing, for example.
Should a driver be issued with a sanction, the length of time in which a 50% discount will be applied has been increased from 15 to 20 calendar days, allowing a slightly longer period in which to submit claims.
A new law also now allows authorities to restrict access or traffic routes to vehicles for environmental reasons. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment will be allowed to make the necessary moves, which can also include such problems as reducing pollution.
Tow-trucks involved in emergency roadside assistance will now be treated as emergency vehicles, and be allowed priority to move through traffic. They may also now stand or park on city streets during the time necessary to remove vehicles, provided they do not create a new hazard or obstacle to traffic.
The restrictions on cancer patients have also been eased in the legislation, as medical and pharmacological advances mean that the possibility is increased in the cases where cancer patients can drive themselves.
Although these new and changed rules will come into force shortly, this is just a guide to how they might affect the day to day driving operations in Spain. For full legal advice, always consult a qualified and certified lawyer.
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/43080/
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