New driving and road legislation approved

Update 30 September 2015: This law has been in place for a year and a half now, but according to an amendment made in July this year, from tomorrow the child car seat provisions have been tightened still further (see HERE). From tomorrow, 1 October, children under three years of age or any child under 135cm tall regardless of age must be seated in the rear in a child car seat; those between three and twelve years of age and who are over 135cm tall must sit in a booster seat, which can be in the front or rear. Police recommend (though this isn’t in the law) that a child over twelve but under 150cm tall should continue to use the booster seat until they reach that height.

If a car has no rear seats, or there are more children than will fit in the rear child seats, they may sit in the front, but must in any case always use the restraints legally approved for their age and height, or they may not legally travel at all. It goes without saying that all child restraints must be installed according to manufacturers’ instructions, including any relevant restrictions in regard to vehicles or child height.

Update 8 May 2014: This law comes into force tomorrow, 9 May.

Update 20 March: This law has now been passed by Parliament and will come into force very shortly. Some main points in brief:

  • Despite some confusion among drivers, Spain does not have a zero alcohol limit, but the limits are very strict. This new law does not change them, and they are 0.5 grams of alcohol per litre of blood = 0.25 mg per litre of exhaled air. What the new law has changed, however, is the fine. For drivers who have double the permitted alcohol level, or second offenders, the fine has been doubled to €1,000, and there will also be a 6 point penalty. First offenders, or those with less than double the permitted alcohol level, the fine will be €500 with a 6 point penalty.
  • Where there is indeed a zero tolerance is with drugs. If a driver’s saliva test demonstrates the presence of any drugs at all,  the fine is €1,000, plus a 6 point penalty, and police say that detectable traces can remain even six hours after consumption.
  • If a driver refuses an alcohol or drugs test, s/he will be committing a further offence under article 383 of the Código Penal which can be penalised with a prison sentence of between six months and a year, and a driving ban of between one and four years. (First offenders won’t be imprisoned). This is in addition to an automatic maximum €1,000 fine as though the driver had tested positive with double permitted alcohol level. Vehicles of drunk drivers will be impounded if there is no other (sober) driver who can take control.
  • Throwing things out of the window of a moving car is an offence, and if a cigarette end, can cause fires … and a €200 fine and 4 licence points.
  • Speeding limits and fines (and point penalties) are detailed HERE … the speed limits on 100km/h roads have been reduced to 90km/h (see HERE).
  • Driving without insurance will be fined at €1,500, and the vehicle impounded for a month.
  • Drivers of cars with a device to inhibit or interfere with radar will be fined €6,000; workshops who install them will be fined €20,000, an amount intended to display the absolute prohibition on the installation of such devices. Drivers of cars with radar detectors will be fined €200 plus 3 penalty points.
  • Cars with children as passengers which do not have the requisite seating can be impounded.
  • Cyclists under 16 must wear a helmet on all roads.

Update 4 October: The Government has today approved the proposed driving and road reforms – the new Ley de Tráfico y Seguridad Vial. The new legislation will allow fines to double from €500 to €1,000 for drink driving, and tighten the rules on child seats, as per the details in my original post below. Other measures include the right to test pedestrians for drunkenness or drug abuse, requirements for child cyclists to wear helmets in towns or on main roads, and an outright ban on radar detectors. The law when passed will also increase the speed limit on some parts of motorways to 130 km/h: at present it is not clear whether any of these sections will be in Tenerife. The Bill will now proceed to Parliament for final approval.

Original post 26 July: The Government has just announced that the fine for drink driving is to be increased from €500 to  €1,000. The amount of alcohol set as the limit has not been changed, nor the number of points lost from the licence – i.e. a minimum of 4. The legal limits are strict: 0.5 grams of alcohol per litre of blood = 0.25 mg per litre of exhaled air (0.15 for new drivers, or drivers of commercial or special vehicles). Anyone who is over 0.60 mg faces three to six months in prison and a ban of up to four years.

In the same law, children under three years of age will be required to be seated in the rear in a child car seat, while those between three and twelve years of age must be seated in a booster seat, whether in the front or rear. Children of any age who are under 135 cm in height must travel in a child seat.

The new legislation also outlaws radar detectors: drivers who use them face losing 3 points from their licence and a fine of €200. As far as young cyclists are concerned, those under 18 must now wear a safety helmet regardless of where they’re cycling. Previously youngsters were only required to wear a helmet on urban roads. Despite pressure groups requesting for legislation requiring adults to wear safety helmets, this has not been included in the law.

These new rules will come into force towards the end of the year when the new legislation is approved.


  1. If you only need car seat to pick up visitors at airport once a year then visit nearest charity shop then share this with friends in same position or all put money together and buy new own

  2. What are the laws regarding driving here on an English licence. For permanent residents with residencia? My wife was involved in a minor accident today and traffico told her that she will get a fine because she only has a valid British licence. Is that correct?

    1. Author

      All the information on British driving licences is HERE. Please have a read and ask at the bottom of that page if you have any further questions.

  3. Yes definitely a booster seat. Same as in the UK. For smaller children it raises them up so that the seat belt does not cut across their neck, which would be very dangerous in an accident. For the majority of children aged 12 and under their height would mean that the seat belt sits in the wrong place. When the law was changed in the UK lots of older kids had to go back to sitting on booster seats! They are inexpensive to buy (that’s the easy bit) persuading the children to get back on them is the hard bit!

  4. Author

    Thanks John, I’m sure that’s right. It sounds familiar now you mention it!

  5. I think it’s a booster seat

  6. Sorry to sound dumb, but what do they mean by a child restraint? A normal seat belt? My daughter is 155cm, 11 years old so she can sit in the front but the car has normal seat belts, and my youngest in the back on a booster, normal seat belt. Is this right or wrong?

    1. Author

      I’m afraid I don’t know. In Spanish they call it a “dispositivo de retención infantil”, which I’ve translated as a child restraint. It seems to be involve some sort of elevated seat, but not a baby carrier type. I’m afraid the best I can do is give a link HERE to Trafic’s own online information about it.

  7. Author

    You have to hire a car seat beforehand. I’m not certain of the law about taxis. As far as I know they are not obliged to carry them at present, but there is talk that they should be made to, though it’s unclear to me who has to provide the seat. Certainly if you’re driving, the rules apply.

  8. what if you only a child in your car that you have pick up at the airport and will not have a child in the car again for a year .and do taxis have to have child seat in

  9. Author

    Yes – or will be once the law is on the statute books towards the end of the year – provided s/he is wearing a child restraint, and providing s/he is over 135 cm tall.

  10. Does this mean my 7 year old can sit in the front seat of the car aslong as she is in a booster seat?

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