HERE’S some good news. I am going to forewarn you of the pitfalls that are ‘out there’ nightly.
“They” no longer refer to themselves as Guardia Civil, but rather DGT (TRAFICO). They are the ones that will give you the fines and eventually take away your drivers license. Beware!
They are the largest, fastest growing ‘business’ in Spain and as projections go, next year they will bring in €| billion in fines! All into a special slush fund unaccounted un-audited and largely controlled by the politicians in power.
Back in 2006 when Spain was booming and everyone was out having fun and going everywhere the traffic fines totalled a sprightly €225 million for a year’s grab. Now, with more than 25 per cent LESS gas consumption, fewer drivers, DGT income has almost tripled in just four years. Figure it out.
If you have a Spanish drivers license NEVER use it, show them the one you have from back home, or, get an international one. If stopped you cannot deny being breathalysed, do it and immediately pay the fine. Remember not to sign anything! Take the penalty paper the very next day to a GOOD lawyer; fines are often filled out incorrectly concerning foreign drivers.
Three huge driving schools are set up right now in El Ejido, Almeria and Huercal Overa. Booking is difficult to get in for the mandatory classes (a further €326) as so many people have been caught and punished. It now is a big huge business and growing unimaginably nightly. All three are saturated now with work and lines to get in growing daily. A full 40 per cent of the people in my group didn’t even know they had lost their drivers license until a policeman from their local town hall showed up and retrieved their license, having been caught on the magic cameras speeding various times; notifications never arrived to alert the driver to his danger.
The curt reply was that the culprit must learn to use the internet more and check the DGT “points” site. Hmmm, let me see, it’s my birthday I wonder how many points I have left on my drivers license before I lose it? It simply presents the DGT as some monster lurking ‘out there’ to do stealth injury concerning an essential proponent to modern day life.
The instructional classes are good, well presented and surprisingly informative, yet, almost all attendees felt ‘injured’ without recourse, as if being bitten by a snake in the night.
Amongst the students taking the classes there is a lot of grumbling. One guy came down to go to work and discovered that he had a flat tire on the door step of his apartment. He started changing it and by accident Trafico motored by. As he hadn’t put on his brightly coloured vest he was fined, which took him over the limit and lost his license.
Lots of other horror stories like that prevailed, but I imagine that most of the severity of the fines were brought about by a destitute Socialist government looking for easy money.
Seat belt up and drive with caution, remember, we got all those invaders from Madrid who drive by other laws. Don’t be in a hurry and if stopped, be polite, do what is required, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING, and check out the ‘multa’ with a good lawyer as they are often filled out incorrectly.
Learn where the secret speed cameras are located. They are conveniently posted on the DGT site and others.
We can all be better drivers, but the punishment seems a bit heavy handed for the circumstances.
Editor’s note: This column is not intended to serve as legal advice but is the opinion of its author based on his experiences.