If you wish to drive whilst you’re living in Spain then the single most important document that you will need is a valid driving licence. Despite this, official figures estimate that an incredible 100,000 drivers regularly take to the roads in Spain without having a driving license. Driving in Spain without a driving license can result in up to six months in prison, and Data from Formaster, la Asociación Profesional de Empresas Formadoras en Logística show that during the last six years, 2.6% of the traffic fines issued in Spain were due to drivers either not having a licence or driving with one that has already been suspended.
Is it Illegal to Drive Without a License in Spain?
It should come as no surprise that driving without a license or driving with a licence that has had all of its points lost, is a crime in Spain. It falls foul of the road safety laws set out in article 384 of the Penal Code. If you are discovered to have breached this law, then the penalties can be harsh. They include, but are not limited to six months in jail, a hefty fine, or up to 90 days of community service.
Other license related crimes include driving with an expired licence and driving with a license that is not recognised in Spain. The penalty for both of these offences is both a loss of 4 points from your licence and a fine up between 90 and 200 euros.
How does the Driving Licence Points System Work in Spain?
When you are issued your driving license in Spain, you are given 12 points. If you are a new driver who has been driving for less than three years, then your license will only start with eight points. If you hold your licence for three years without losing any points then the number of points on your licence will increase by another three points: after four years of clean driving, you will gain another point. This means the maximum number of points any driver in Spain can have on their licence is 15.
If you are then prosecuted or given a fixed penalty notice for any driving offence, you will lose points from your license. As a result, each offence will result in the loss of between two and six points, depending on the severity of the offence. If you lose all of your points, then you will also lose your driving licence. You will lose this for six months in the first instance, and for 12 months if it is not the first time that you have lost your points and therefore your driving licence.
Can You Earn Driving Licence Points?
If you lose points on your driving licence, then the good news is that it is possible to earn them back. You can recover up to six points by agreeing to complete a road safety awareness course, and after two years of safe driving you will recover all of your points in most instances. If you lose your points for a more serious offence, this could be extended to three years.
If you have lost all of your points then you should attend a road safety education course, which will take around 24 hours to complete. You can take this course whilst you are banned from driving, and will also need to resit your driving theory test before you can get your license back. When you are given your license back, you will start with just eight points, but as long as you don’t reoffend you can earn additional points over time.
How Does This Impact British Drivers in Spain?
Since the UK left the EU, there has been a lot of confusion about Britons using their British driving licenses in Spain, and on 1st May the grace period for Britons using their licenses in the country expired, meaning Britons who are permanent residents of Spain can no longer legally drive in the country using their UK driving licenses. This means that Uk license holders have been left in a state of limbo, and must either take their Spanish driving test or use public transport to get around.
On 17th June, the Uk ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott released a statement announcing that the UK and Spain were “now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re very close to finalising the actual text on the agreement. He assured drivers that they would be back on the road by the end of July.” However, given the constant delays and postponements that have been made in reaching this agreement means that Britons are respectfully advised to not believe it until it comes into fruition.
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