This has prompted the authorities to introduce measures intended to reduce casualties in future and the main changes to the law from January 2004 are summarized as follows:
- Withdrawal of driving licence. Anyone showing obvious signs of having lost the ability to drive safely will lose his or her driving licence. If at the scene of an accident Traffic police agents are empowered to take away on 'the spot' the licence of any driver who, at the scene of an accident, shows signs of having lost his physical ability to drive safely.
- New Drivers. Having been fined 3 times for a serious offences (excess of speed, jumping lights, etc) or twice for a very serious offence (refusing an alcohol test, exceeding speed limit by more than 50%, etc.) will be sufficient cause for the revocation of a driving licence issued at any time in the previous two years earlier and a new licence may not be obtained for another year.
- Driving without a licence. Any one driving without a licence will be suspended from obtaining a licence for one and his/her vehicle shall be confiscated for a period of one month. In the case a repeated offence the vehicle shall be confiscated for 3 months.
- Cancellation of motorcycle licences. Any one with a motorbike licence committing 2 serious offences or one very serious offence within 2 years of it being granted will lose the licence but without prejudice to later obtaining a normal driver's licence.
- Cancellation of Driving Licences. Committing three very serious offences will result in the revocation of any driving licence. The re-issue will only be considered if a new driving course is taken and passed and in such cases the revocation shall be replaced with a suspension for one year. The government acknowledges the need to appoint a body that will regulate the courses.
In addition, on the 23rd January, there were also introduced some new "Highway Code" regulations, some of the main points being:
- Drivers. The use of mobile phones or other communication instrument is forbidden unless the use is totally hand free and without headphones or helmets or other similar gadget.
- Any gadgets that can distract the driver are banned, such as screen with Internet access, TV monitors, or video & DVD players. GPS search/navigation instruments are accepted.
- In addition to the engine and lights, now also radios and mobile phones must be switched off when refueling.
- Any person over 3 years of age and under 150 centimetres in height as well as children under 3 years of age must be safely harnessed by a system that is adapted to their heights and weights.
- Anyone alighting from a vehicle on to the hard shoulder of an autopista or in any non- built up areas must wear a highly reflective jacket at all times.
- With regards to cyclists and motor cyclists, they are now subjected to similar alcohol limits as car divers. Furthermore cyclists must now wear a suitable helmet at all times in non-built up areas.
Novelties also include some new signs, advice for pedestrians in respect of road crossings, etc.
On the 1st October there will be some rather more severe penalties applied to drivers under the influence of alcohol and other substances, including imprisonment and multiple fines. Drivers found guilty of excessive speeds under the influence of alcohol and other substances, will face imprisonment for a time between 6 months and two years and may be suspended from driving for a period between one and six years.
For a copy of the new code amendments in Spanish, drive to: www.dgt.es/legislacion/FOLLETONORMAS.pdf