Article 18.1, or how the DGT can fine you for changing the radio even if it does not appear in the Traffic Law

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The latest reform of Law on Traffic, Circulation of Motor Vehicles and Road Safety has brought some changes in the punishments for using the mobile phone and the seat belt as the most outstanding measures. This last change has allowed to solve a recurring doubt among drivers but not others.


In addition to the changes for the scooters or the prohibition of having a radar detector in the car, the new wording of the Law specifies in its article 76 that it will be a serious infraction “to use, holding it by hand, or keeping it adjusted between the helmet and the user’s head, mobile telephony devices while driving, driving using manually using mobile phone devices in conditions other than the above, driving manually using navigators or any other means or communication system, as well as carrying radar or speedometer detection mechanisms in vehicles”.

That is, it is expressly prohibited grab with one hand the mobile phone, even if it is not actually being used. The simplest reason is that it is easier for the agents and the traffic cameras to fine for this infraction for the mere fact of carrying it. Until the last change, it was necessary to demonstrate that the driver was “manually using mobile phone devices, browsers or any other means or communication system”, which made the procedure difficult.

Now, keeping your mobile phone in your hand will be enough to punish the driver with six points less on the driver’s license and an economic fine of 200 euros. But, before they could also fine us for it?

Article 18.1, the mixed bag

Although it was not specified in the Law on Traffic, Circulation of Motor Vehicles and Road Safety as such, they could already fine us for holding the mobile phone in our hand. This was possible if reference was made to the article 18.1 the General Circulation Regulation.

The wording of this article is as follows: “The driver of a vehicle is obliged to maintain his own freedom of movement, the necessary field of vision and permanent attention to driving, which guarantee his own safety, that of the rest of the occupants of the vehicle and that of the other users of the road.To this end, you must take special care to maintain the proper position and that the rest of the passengers maintain it, and the proper placement of the objects or animals transported so that there is no interference between the driver and any of them”.

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The wording of it is so lax that an agent could already sanction us for having the mobile in hand if it was considered that it impeded our “freedom of movement”. It is not the only case, the same happens if the agent understands that operating a navigator, the radio or the vehicle’s infotainment system prevents “permanent attention while driving”.

In fact, article 18.1 of the General Circulation Regulations is the one used to validate the fines for eat or drink (always water) while driving. Also if you smoke at the wheel, although specifying this behavior as an offense in the future is being studied. Even if the coat or the use of flip-flops does not guarantee “the driver’s own safety, that of the rest of the occupants of the vehicle and that of other road users.”

The laxity of its wording and the wide variety of situations that can be included in this article 18.1 is such that it also refers to the importance of properly placing luggage or transporting animals. It is, therefore, the mixed bag where everything is valid until more specific regulations are drawn up on said infractions.

Photo | Courtney Corley

The latest reform of Law on Traffic, Circulation of Motor Vehicles and Road Safety has brought some changes in the…

The latest reform of Law on Traffic, Circulation of Motor Vehicles and Road Safety has brought some changes in the…

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