IT IS ironic and even tragic that one of the few tables on which Portugal always ranks in top place within the European Union is the number of injuries and deaths in road accidents. There are a number of different reasons for this, but certainly the main reason is that drivers know they can break the law and get away with it.
A new code on road safety rules (Código da Estrada) came into force on March 26, despite a lot of controversy regarding its application. One aspect, which is causing controversy, relates to the code’s compliance with the Portuguese Republic’s Constitution, as it stipulates that any fines should be paid immediately after the offence has been committed. Should the driver fail to do so, his driving licence will be confiscated, as well as his registration documents (if he owns the vehicle). Any other outstanding registered fines must also be paid immediately, otherwise the vehicle will be confiscated. This new legal obligation may well coincide with the constitutional right to file an appeal. Unlawful or not, the reality is that the rule has come into force.
New speed limits
According to the new code, a car cannot exceed 50km/h in urban areas, 120km/h on motorways, 100km/h on fast roads and 90km/h on all other roads. If a trailer is attached, the limit is 20km/h lower in all cases except the first, where the 50km/h limit still applies. For motorbikes with an engine over 50cc, the speed limits are the same as for cars with no trailer. There is also a minimum speed limit on motorways of 50km/h for both cars and motorbikes.
Fines will vary from 60 euros up to 2,500 euros, depending on how serious the offence is. There is a sliding scale for the fines as follows:
• From 60 euros up to 300 euros, if the speed limit is exceeded by up to 20km/h in urban areas, or 30km/h on all other roads;
• From 120 euros up to 300 euros, if the speed limit is exceeded by between 20km/h and 40km/h in urban areas, or between 30km/h and 40km/h on all other roads;
• From 300 euros up to 1,500 euros, if the speed limit is exceeded by between 40km/h and 60km/h in urban areas, or between 60km/h and 80km/h on all other roads;
• From 500 euros up to 2,500 euros, if the speed limit is exceeded by between 60km/h in urban areas, or by more than 80km/h on all remaining roads.
In addition to this, and perhaps the most serious consequence, is that an additional penalty can be applied – your driving licence can be taken away for between one month and two years.
In conclusion, the best thing really is to slow down…
Gonçalo Figueira can be contacted via email [email protected]
• Neville de Rougemont & Associados, Av. Praia da Vitória, nº5 1º, 1000-245 Lisboa. Tel 213 191 290, Fax 213 527 619
• Neville de Rougemont & Associados, Rua do Norte nº6, 8000 Faro. Tel 289 895 420 or 289 895 429.