Confusion over new traffic laws, can you be fined for holding mobile phone?
The new traffic laws have increased penalties for using, or just holding your mobile phone while driving, with six points being subtracted from the licence instead of the three as in the previous regulation, even though the fine remains at 200 euros. Tourists, with non-Spanish licences, can still get the fines.
However, there is confusion as to whether you can be penalised if the mobile is in a holder on the dashboard or similar. The director of the DGT, Pere Navarro, cleared up this, and a few other things, in a recent digital meeting on the DGT website.
During the meeting, he pointed out that as long as the phone remains in an approved stand and is used via the car's Bluetooth, then there is no problem, but the situation changes when the driver needs to hold the phone to their ear, dial, or text.
“If a driver needs to use their phone, they should stop at a suitable place, turn off their vehicle, use the phone, and be completely finished before continuing their journey,” he said. He went on to explain that if a phone is touched while in a stand or being used, there will be three points deducted from the licence and a fine of 200 euros.
Participants of the meeting put forward their opinions about whether or not it is fair to fine people if their mobile phones switched off while being held, saying it should not be punishable, to which Navarro replied: "it is not the job of Guardia Civil Traffic officers to check if the mobile is switched on or not”.
Navarro also referred to other devices that are permissible. The new traffic law allows the use of wireless or approved devices in the vehicle as long as they do not need the use of hands or helmets, headphones or similar instruments, and explained that you should consult with the seller, or check the manufacturer's instructions, to verify that it has the correct approval label.
What is clear is that the new regulations do allow headsets and other wireless devices on motorcycles and mopeds but solely for purposes of navigation, and that having a mobile between the helmet and the user's head is still punishable and will result in the loss of three points.
This includes intercoms in motorcycle helmets. The distinction between the use of such equipment in cars and motorcycles was justified by Navarro saying: “these devices are EU approved and have passed all the controls. Its objective here is to increase the safety of the motorcyclist. Its improper use is beyond the norm.”
When it comes to smart watches, including ones that receive calls, Navarro pointed out that "because you do not have to hold them by hand to use them, they do not interfere with driving" and added that "they will be treated as hands-free devices in the new law".