By Humphrey Carter
NEXT week motorists are going to face bigger fines and having points docked from their licence as the new traffic law comes into full force across the country. Coinciding with tough new measures in the Balearics and other accident black spots in Spain in a desperate bid to reduce this year's alarmingly high road death toll, motorists breaking traffic laws are going to be hit by record on-the-spot fines from Tuesday. At the moment, talking on a mobile-phone while driving, wearing ear phones or failing to wear a seat belt, for example, warrant a 90 euro flat-rate fine. From Tuesday, motorists will faces fines of between 91 and 300 euros.
Record fines will also be handed out to drivers caught using speed trap and radar detectors, and failing to use proper child protection and retention equipment, like baby seats. Motorcyclists, including their passengers, will be fined for not wearing crash helmets. Failing to stop when ordered by the police will also be heavily penalised. For more serious offences such as driving without a licence or driving an unregistered vehicle, the fines are going to quintuple from 300 euros to 1'500 euros. However, there are some positive changes to the traffic laws - if fines are paid within 30 days of being handed out, a reduction of up to 30 percent will be available. The new points deduction system, similar to that in the United Kingdom, comes into force next week but the new police data bank running the points deduction programme will not be fully operational for another year. Nevertheless, drivers are going to start losing points from next week and, in the event of a motorist losing his or her licence, they will only be able to recover it after a set period of time and completing a refresher driving course. In the event of a licence being suspended, at the moment the minimum period is two days, from Tuesday, it is going to be at least one month. Traffic department chiefs said yesterday that, while some drivers may feel the new fines are rather harsh, the primary aim is to make motorists obey traffic laws and reduce the number of accidents and deaths on the roads.

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