At the end of July 2013 the Spanish Cabinet approved a number of important changes to the legislation covering Road Traffic Laws that will introduce new requirements for road users in Spain – and not just for drivers, but also cyclists and even pedestrians.
There are a number of measures that the government believes will update the laws and those that stand out include:
- Making the use of a cycling helmet/crash-helmet obligatory for all bicycle and motorcycle drivers under the age of eighteen – regardless of what type of roadway the vehicle is driven on. Those over the age of eighteen continue to be required to wear a cycling or crash-helmet on roads that connect towns and cities (vías interurbanas).
- Speed limits will be revised as per regulations that are to be issued in time by the relevant authorities, though it is known that an increase in the speed limit on certain stretches of motorway up to 130 km/h and a reduction on certain urban roadways is planned.
- Use of equipment by motorists that detects the location of speed cameras on the Spanish highways is now prohibited and possession of the equipment will incur a fine of up to 200€ and the imposition of 3 penalty points.
- The penalties for being under the influence of drugs and alcohol while driving have been strengthened. While the existing law has specific measures aimed at the control of the consumption of alcohol, there was no specific measure relating to the intake of drugs. This has now changed and the new law specifies that the presence of alcohol is to be tested by use of a breathalyser while the presence of drugs is to be detected through a saliva test.
- In addition, the penalties for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs have been doubled from 500€ to 1000€. Accordingly, the presence 0.25mg – 0.5mg of alcohol per litre of exhaled air (or 0.15mg for new drivers or those driving HGV’s) will now be fined at the new rate in addition to having 4 points deducted from the driving license. Those drivers found to have between 0.51mg and 0.6mg of alcohol per litre will see 6 points taken from their driving license in addition to any fine. Having more than 0.6mg of alcohol per litre of exhaled air will attract a possible prison sentence of up to 6 months and a fine of up to 144,000€ as well as the loss of the license for a period of between one and four years.
- Failure to submit to a drink or drugs test will be punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year and loss of the driving license for up to four years.
- Pedestrians will also be subject to penalties for infractions of the law committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In addition to the above measures regulations will be issued regarding controls on children sitting in the front passenger seat of a vehicle which will be limited according to age and height. Also, those companies carrying-out road works will henceforth be required to provide advance notice to the relevant traffic authorities. The new law is expected to come into force at the beginning of 2014.