Using the mobile at a red light: is it legal or can we be fined?

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Anyone in Spain with a driving license knows: using your mobile while driving is strictly prohibited. The only way in which it is possible to use the phone when driving is through hands-free, whether you have a system installed in the car or if you control the mobile by voice or with Android Auto.

Using the mobile while driving is prohibitedBut when the car is stationary, like at a red light, is it also prohibited? This is surely a question that many users with a smartphone have when they are driving and whose answer they do not know.

Can we use the mobile at a red light?

Traffic light in red

Article 18 of the General Traffic Regulations talks about the ban on using the mobile while driving. Because this article only mentions the use of the device, it would technically be forbidden to use it at a red light. This means that it is illegal to use the mobile as a browser, send messages or read notifications on the phone screen.

If you want to differentiate the moments in which it is possible to use it, we have to go to Annex I of the Road Safety Law. In this annex we find a series of concepts such as the status of the vehicle: stop, park and stop. These statuses or classifications let us know if the use of the phone is possible at those times. Legally, to use the mobile in the car, the driver has to immobilize the car, having made a stop or having parked it.

  • Parking lot: What we normally know as parking involves the immobilization of a vehicle that is not in a stop or stop situation. The mobile can only be used when it is stopped or parked, because in the arrest the car is considered to be in motion.
  • Detention: It is the immobilization of the vehicle due to circulation needs, emergency or to comply with some rule. This concept refers to moments such as being stopped at a red light, for example, at a stop or during a traffic jam. It is considered that we are currently driving, so it is forbidden to use the mobile.
  • Stop: It is the immobilization of the vehicle for less than two minutes, without the driver leaving the car. It can be when we stop to pick someone up, or for someone else to get out of the car, for example.

Penalty fee

Until December 31, 2020, it was sanctioned with 3 driving license points and a fine of 200 euros the use of mobile telephony devices while driving, except when the communication takes place without using the hands or the use of headphones or similar instruments.

New rules

Using the mobile at a red light: is it legal or can we be fined? 1

Since January 1, 2021 there have been a series of changes in this regard, which must be taken into account. To be sanctioned, you will not have to be using your mobile in an active way, but just holding the mobile with your hand will be enough. This is an important change, because it will no longer be penalized only in case of active use, but also the simple fact of holding it is a reason for penalty.

The fine of 200 euros remains the same, but there are changes in the deduction of points. Go from 3 to 6 points in this case. The use of a mobile phone is considered a serious offense and is therefore sanctioned with those 6 points of the card and a fine of 200 euros. Placing the phone on the dashboard, with an approved holder and without manipulation while driving, will not be subject to a fine.

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