Law 72/2013 brought some additions to The Portuguese Highway Code which came into force on the 1st January 2014. There are several changes included in the code covering (amongst other things) alcohol levels (for professional and new drivers), drug tests and speed limits, but there are some major changes that will affect most people and which do not come with road signs to warn you.
The first change which will be important to all drivers if they are stopped for any vehicle check is regarding the documents a driver must carry. Now, as well as the Driving Licence, Identification Document and Insurance Certificate, drivers must also carry their Fiscal Card (Cartão de Contribuinte). If you do not have a fiscal card you should have the A4 document issued by Finanças stating your name, address and fiscal number. From now on, any traffic fines issued by the police, must contain your fiscal number and the address used to send you any documentation after that, for example a letter confirming that the fine is paid, will go to your fiscal address, the one registered in Finanças.
Failing to carry any of the documents mentioned above can result in a fine from €60 to €300, unless you present the documents within 8 days to the authorities indicated by the police officer, in which case the fine will be reduced to €30 to €150.
The rules on how to circulate on roundabouts have also been defined. According to the new law, it is now prohibited to travel on the outside lane (the right hand side) unless it is used to take the next immediate exit. On entering a roundabout this lane should be used only if you are taking the first exit, for all other exits you must move into the left lane and then indicate and move to the right lane once you have passed the exit before the one you wish to take. Driving on the outside lane for any other exit except from the very first one can result in fines from 60 to 300 euros. This law will be used to determine fault in case of accidents where collision occurs on a roundabout.
With regard to fines; any fines over 200 euros can now be paid in installments and the police officer issuing the fine should make you aware of this and tell you how to proceed with installments.
The rules about carrying children in the car still applies for children under 12, the only change in this is that the height of children required to use booster seats was reduced from 1.50m to 1.35m.
There are also new rules for cyclists which amongst other things now give them equal status with motor vehicles at roundabouts and allow for them to travel two abreast in light traffic, but which also prohibit them from riding on pavements and oblige them to use lights at night. Cyclists must also carry ID on them when on the road.