family in spain

Driving illegally??

Have you ever been caught driving in Spain when you weren’t supposed to be? I mean, driving illegally in Spain. We have. We were driving illegally and we were caught. Thankfully!

Let me explain …

It was that short lull in the festive season. The few days between New Year and Kings. I was hoping to catch up on some work. Hubby had kindly taken the children down to the beachfront to play on their new scooters. Time for me. At last. Or so I thought. Then the doorbell rang …

“Felices fiestas” was the greeting I exchanged with our friendly postman.

He then handed me the envelope and asked me to sign for it. He had that knowing, sympathetic look on his face. The look he saves for when he hands over recorded delivery letters from Hacienda (the Spanish tax office) and, in this particular case, the Ministerio del Interior (the office that dispatches automatic fines).

“These envelopes are usually fines, aren’t they?” I casually mentioned to him. “Felices fiestas indeed.”

He ever so politely, continued to discuss the possibilities of the contents with me. He said the usual was a speeding fine, caught out by the automatic speed traps. As I opened the envelope I saw the registration of hubby’s car. Typical. He’d been caught speeding but as the car is in my name, I get the fine!

We, postie and I, looked at the contents of the envelope and discovered that the fine was €200 and the place of the incident was on the A7 road at KM 273. Ooh, my hubby was in trouble when he came home.

Then we looked at the box in bold, marked “Hecho que se notifica” that stated “No haber presentado a la inspection tecnica periodica, en el plaza debido, el vehicle reseñado”.

OMG! That was not good news. What had we done?

I thanked postie, bade him farewell and rushed inside to immediately phone hubby and tell him that he was driving an illegal vehicle.

My mind went into overdrive, as it often does about these things. What if they had an accident on the way home? What if they were stopped by police on a random check? What if? What if?

That was the end of any work catch up for me …

driving illegally in spain

So, what should you do when you receive a traffic fine via post, related to driving in Spain?

  • Check the registration of the vehicle (Matrícula) , the date (fecha denuncia) and location of the incident (lugar denuncia).
  • Clarify the incident. What are you being fined for? (Hecho que se notifica)
  • Confirm the amount of the fine (Importe total multa)

If you are guilty of the crime, (as we were!) …

Be aware that, if the fine is paid within 20 working days of receipt of the fine, you receive a 50% reduction for prompt payment. Needless to say, I was on the internet immediately with my debit card at the ready.

Paying a traffic fine in Spain is a relatively painless process nowadays. The country has come a long way in improving its online services for some, and I mean some, bureaucratic processes. Particularly processes that involve us paying money to official departments. (Yep, that was a bit of sarcasm there 😉 )

If you’d like to know how to pay fines online, have a look at my post “How to pay traffic fines in Spain” on our relocation website.

So, it’s a happy ending. Is it?

Well, kind of. But not quite. Not yet.

Hubby and children returned from scootering without having had any kind of accident or random police check. I had “saved” us 100€, by successfully paying the fine on time and receiving the 50% discount.

A quick internet search taught us that, as the van was classed as a commercial vehicle, the ITV test was due every two years, not every four years, as per normal tourist vehicles. OMG, we had been driving illegally for almost eighteen months! Thank the lord we found out before anything serious had happened.

However, a couple of black clouds still hung over us:

  • The van was totally illegal to drive until we passed the ITV (Spanish MOT) test. Being in full “festivo” period, getting anything done was even more challenging than usual. Luckily we have a second car.
  • The fine we had just paid was dated August 2014. 6 months ago!!! OMG. How many more were going to arrive ??? Only time will tell …

So, if you do nothing else, check your ITV expiry date now. If you are not sure when it should be renewed, find out. It is illegal so drive a vehicle in Spain without a valid ITV. Your insurance will not cover you in case of an accident.

Remember that, in Spain, you are responsible for finding out if you have any outstanding fines. If you do not ask or take action, they do not go away. They come back bigger and more expensive.

We have learned from our lesson and we hope you will too.

Don’t forget to read our post New Traffic Laws and Car Seats in Spain.

Do you have any traffic related experiences to share? Drop us a line if you do. We can all learn from each other’s mistakes 🙂
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