Alan Cuthbertson – Moving Abroad – Driving in Spain

Driving in Spain

I would guess that most people driving around East Leeds know the rules of the road. You expect to be punished if you go over the speed limit or go through a red light, so is it any different driving around Spain?

The first thing you have to be aware of is the British on holiday. If I ever have the need to travel near Malaga airport then I’m always extra alert for the small rental cars, usually identified by the sticker on the back advertising the rental company. The drivers are not used to the cars controls. (You can often see windscreen wipers come on at junctions). They are not used to driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, and to confuse them even more the wife will be sat next to them holding a map upside down shouting “You’ve missed the turning again.”

So what about the rules? Your holiday can become very expensive if, even by mistake, you fall foul of the law. If your spouse does disagree with your driving, please don’t let it turn into an argument. That is considered as not paying attention, along with biting your finger nails, kissing your passenger or giving a ‘V’ sign. Each of which will cost you an 80 euro fine.

Refilling your car with the radio or mobile turned on…that’s another 90 euro.
Driving through a residential area or near a hospital/nursing home playing loud music on the car stereo…80-100 euro.

Elbow sticking out of the window…100 euro.

Driving without a shirt, heels, barefoot, or in flip-flops is considered as driving with diminished ability…200 euro.

Staying in the fast lane when the right hand lane is free…200 euro (though all the Spanish do this.)

Applying make-up or using the mobile whilst waiting at a red light…200 euro.

Regardless of all these rules, next time you are in Spain take a look at the rear view mirror of a Spaniard’s car. I think it’s a competition of how much rubbish they can hang from it, regardless of how much it restricts their visibility.

cuthbertson-driving-in-spain-picThese are the laws in Spain along with the need to carry a spare set of glasses/contact lenses if you need them for driving. Along with a high visibility jacket and warning triangle. If for some reason you are stopped and don’t have your documents, it’s not like in the UK where you can take them to a police station later, your car will be impounded. If you receive a fine you have to pay it on the spot (unless you’re a resident). If you don’t have the money you will be accompanied to the bank.

When we first arrived in the village an argument started in the bar when we were all comparing drivers licenses. A friend asked how many points I had on mine. I proudly replied “none!” After a long heated discussion it turns out that the Spanish do it the other way. They are given 12 points and every time you commit an offence the points are deducted. It was a while before they gave back my car keys.

Alan Cuthbertson is the author of Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart, and Clover House.
He has lived in Spain for over ten years.
For more information please visit

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