When does a traffic fine expire in Spain?

by Lorraine Williamson
traffic controls

MADRID – It is well known that a traffic offence can lead to a fine. However, as with other administrative sanctions, it’s important to note that traffic tickets have an expiration date. There are periods during which fines issued by the Spanish Traffic Department DGT may lapse. That is, the traffic fine may become invalid. Do you know how long it takes for a traffic ticket in Spain to expire?

In other words, drivers in Spain who have been fined have a chance of not having to pay it. This is the case if the DGT does not notify the offenders of the fine within the required time. The traffic department has three ways to inform the offender of the fine. Firstly, via the well-known piece of paper behind the windscreen wiper. Secondly, via a letter posted on the doormat. And thirdly, via a notification on the mobile phone.  

Severity of the traffic fine 

Speeding or parking fines do not have to be paid if the notification arrives after the time stipulated by law. The exact length of this period depends on the severity of the infringement. For instance, it can be classed as minor, serious or very serious. Examples of serious offences include exceeding the speed limit or overtaking irregularly. 

Road Safety Act 

In article 112, paragraph 1 of the Road Safety Act, the DGT explains exactly how long it takes for the sanction to become time-barred. As stated, ‘the limitation period for the offences referred to in this Act shall be three months for minor offences and six months for serious and very serious offences. The limitation period shall commence on the day on which the offence was committed’. 

Objection and reduction possible 

If an offender is not notified of the fine within these time limits, either by the DGT or by other competent authorities, the fine does not have to be paid. However, in the majority of cases, the notification arrives on time. Those who then disagree with the fine have 20 calendar days to refute the allegation. Those who do pay, and do so quickly, only have to pay half of the fine; the amount is reduced by 50%. 

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Day of offence decisive 

According to the Traffic Act, the reporting time starts to count from the day of the offence. However, the DGT and the authorities have the possibility to interrupt this period. This can be done for up to one month while they check the identity or the address of the offender. 

However, as explained above, notifications generally arrive and the authorities have a four-year period to collect what is demanded. If the driving licence is also revoked, the period is one year. 

Insight via the app MiDGT

In short, anyone who does not want to pay a fine from the DGT must wait and see if a notice arrives within three or six months, depending on the severity of the offence. However, if you are sure that you have committed an infraction you can also check yourself. The body in charge of sanctioning may be the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) or City Councils or Autonomous Communities in this matter such as Catalonia, the Basque Country and Navarre. To know in real time the violations associated with your vehicle and driving license, you can directly access your DGT app ‘miDGtT’ in the “My fines” section. You can also register with the Road Electronic Directorate (DEV). Here, notifications are communicated through an electronic mailbox on traffic matters.

Also read: What to do if you receive a traffic fine in Spain?

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