Warning to drivers: not all traffic fines in Spain are reduced by half if paid promptly

Although the discount applies to most types of fine there are exceptions, and those offences can prove extremely expensive

SOLANGE VÁZQUEZ Malaga

Many people are returning home from holiday in Spain at this time of year, but before unpacking the cases and settling down, they decide to check what post has arrived while they have been away. Letters, supermarket leaflets, bank statements and… oh, no! A traffic fine! It may have come from the national Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT), or the regional government or even the local council, but it is what it is and it is the last thing anyone wants to see.

Well, it might not be as bad as it seems, because after all there is a 50% discount if the fine is paid within 20 days. Not quite, actually: that discount does not apply to all types of traffic fine.

“The main reason for the discount not to be applied is if the owner of the vehicle fails to provide the details of the driver,” Ana Belén Cruz, the director of the European Automobile Commission’s legal department, told SUR.

“For example, if the penalty for speeding is a 300-euro fine and the loss of two licence points, if the driver has not been identified the fine cannot be reduced to 150 euros,” she said.

Also, if the drivers’ details are not provided, the situation goes from bad to worse, because it is a contravention of the Road Safety Law and the amount of the original fine will be doubled if the offence was not serious and tripled if it is serious or very serious. So the amount to be paid could range from 200 to 1,500 euros.

Incorrect details

Sometimes this is not a deliberate decision: “What often happens is that the information that people give isn’t correct. Maybe the address is incomplete, the driver is foreign and their licence isn’t valid in Spain, or they had no points left on their licence, for example,” said Cruz.

“If the police stop someone they always take their details on the spot, so this doesn’t happen in those cases. It happens when a notification arrives by post and asks for details that may not be available,” she said.

Other fines which do not carry a 50% discount for payment include those for installing a radar inhibitor or any other mechanism designed to interfere in the correct functioning of traffic monitoring. This can incur a fine of 3,000 euros, or 6,000 if the radar inhibitor is activated.

Nor are discounts applicable to fines for damaging road infrastructure or disrupting the flow of traffic, which can amount to 3,000 euros. The same goes for removing, changing or damaging traffic signs, modifying their content or doing anything which could cause drivers to make a mistake: this also results in a 3,000 euro fine which has to be paid in full.