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Summer traffic fine 'myths': Can you drive in flip-flops, and other questions
15 July 2021 @ 11:57

ALONG with a spike in ice-cream sales, a fan breaking down becoming a domestic emergency and fantasies of teleporting oneself to the Arctic – just for 10 minutes, then going home again – summer in Spain is guaranteed to bring one other seasonal regular: Online hoaxes about traffic rules. It's the time of year when mass confusion abounds about whether you can drive in flip-flops or whether you can be fined for hanging an arm out of a window – nobody is quite sure, and social media posts and viral messages and memes only add to the chaos.

And once again, highway police have taken to the mainstream media to clarify our doubts.

Remember that when road traffic law breaches refer to 'licence points', a Spanish licence starts off with 12 and these are deducted for offences, leading to a ban once the total falls to zero, unlike in the UK, for example, where a licence starts with zero and points are added for offences, with a ban coming into effect if the total reaches 12.


Fact or fake? The General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), part of the transport ministry, can fine you for not wearing a mask in the car if you're travelling with people from outside your household.

A bit of both: The DGT cannot and will not fine you, because it's not a traffic offence – it's a public health law. This means the Guardia Civil can, and possibly will, although they're likely just to tell you all to put your masks on and warn you that a repeat failure to do so will cost you. Don't take the chance – of a fine, or of infecting each other inside the car.


Fact or fake? Smoking whilst driving can cost you licence points and a fine of up to €4,000.

Fake: There's no law against smoking and driving – this only constitutes an offence if doing so means you are putting other road users at risk, such as groping around on the floor for your lighter instead of looking out of the windscreen, or where it is considered a distraction that creates a hazard. As long as you're driving safely and your attention is on the road and other cars, where it should be, smoking and driving is not against the law.

Obviously, this applies to cigarettes; smoking a spliff before or whilst driving is illegal, as is the consumption of any non-medical drugs that remain in your system when you're at the wheel – a huge percentage of fatal accidents on Europe's roads involve drivers who had drunk alcohol or taken drugs such as cocaine and hash.

The Guardia Civil says: “Smoking is bad for you inside or outside your car, but it's not a traffic offence, and we've debunked this myth time and time again.”


Fact or fake? The new emergency telephone number for urgent traffic-related issues, such as accidents, is 088 and, unlike the 112, 062 or 091 numbers, which carry a charge, 088 is free.

Read the full article at


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