Road-side vehicle and driver checks
As we all know there are several types of police in Spain but those responsible for Traffic violations are the Guardia Civil Traffic Department. As well as administrative work they are responsible for patrolling roads and motorways to ensure the safety of all drivers and to stop any drivers suspected of committing an offence. This means that they often set up road side checks at prominent places, although more than often in the same places that repeat offenders will try their best to avoid passing. The Traffic police have many facilities available to them to assist in the checking of vehicles and drivers and of course to issue fines or confiscate vehicles if the offence is serious enough to warrant this. It would be impossible to list all traffic offences here but you should be aware that with the implementation of technology ever increasing patrol cars and motorbikes have varying kits that they carry in order for them to do their duties as well as any visual check they may do such as checking ITV stickers on passing cars and stopping them if they spot an out of date one or indeed in some cases none at all (this does not apply to a private owned vehicle that is less than four years old and rent a cars have differing rules too regarding the frequency of ITVs).
One of the items carried by the Traffic police, often stored in the boxes of their bikes or inside patrol cars are items known as Personal Digital Assistant or PDA for short. These devices are linked by Bluetooth to a thermal printer and by this method they are able to input details and issue on the spot fines which in turn then links with the DGT’s central computer system. This device can be used for various things. It can be used to check the drivers and vehicles details, for drivers things such as if you are actually qualified to drive, if you are currently serving a ban for an offence that has already occurred, if you actually are the registered owner of the vehicle and the state of its insurance or lack of it if no policy is shown on the central register.
The whole process of making such checks is almost instantaneous, however if the driver provides inaccurate or incorrect information either deliberately or by mistake, or is unknown this will of course cause delays and could in fact then result in a fine being issued which may in fact be incorrect.
As we have covered before one problem the police face in checking information about drivers is if they are not registered as residents of Spain or have not completed a transfer of their foreign licence for a Spanish one (where and when appropriate). If you are resident, hold a Spanish Licence and have current insurance and ITV you are most likely to be allowed to go with the minimum of fuss. The police by making a simple singular check of a drivers NIE number will provide them with all linked details pertaining to that persons NIE number i.e. status of driving licence, car ownership etc., which is most likely what they would be looking to confirm. Where information is not linked such as in cases where no Spanish licence is held, having not been substituted for a Spanish one the process will take the police much longer and you will find that you are being held up for what will seemingly be a long time. Remember however that no matter how frustrated or annoyed you may be at any delays, continue to be polite as an officer can issue a fine if he considers you have insulted him.