Spain Cracks Down on Radar Detectors, Laser Jammers and . . . Sat Nav

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

Spain’s Congress of Deputies last Wednesday gave approval to a measure that makes it a crime to use a GPS (a.k.a. satellite navigation) device while behind the wheel. The provision appeared as part of a broader legislation designed to update the traffic code with measures that encourage motorists to pay fines without challenge. Radar detectors are already illegal in Spain. But because satellite navigation devices come as factory options on most modern vehicles, officials could not easily outlaw their ownership. Instead, government ministers proposed to restrict GPS use since the devices are increasingly being loaded with maps that warn motorists of locations where speed cameras are in use.

“Driving using helmets, headsets or other devices that reduce the emphasis on driving or manually using mobile phones, navigation devices or any other communication system,” earns three points and a €200 (US$275) fine, according to the legislation.

On the table of offenses, using a GPS is now more serious than driving 30 MPH over the speed limit which merits just two points. To encourage prompt payment of speeding tickets, the legislation also removes points altogether for driving less than 19 MPH over the limit on a freeway. The €100 (US$140) fine is discounted by half as long as it is paid immediately.

The most serious punishment of all goes to anyone convicted of attempting to thwart a speed camera with a laser or radar jamming device or a radar detector. This represents more points than is awarded for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and is equal to the number of points for an aggravated DUI.

“Driving vehicles with mechanical equipment or systems installed that are designed to evade traffic monitoring, or with devices that have the same intention, as well as use of radar detection systems,” earns six points according to the legislation.

The Ministry of the Interior will be responsible for developing regulations to implement the legislation within six months of becoming law.

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