Using personal electronic devices (phones, music players) while driving in Portugal
In Portugal, you may not drive and use a mobile phone (except hands-free) or other video/audio device which impairs your driving. Using devices like police radar detectors carries very severe penalties.
Mobile phones and other audiovisual devices
The driver may legally use the following:
- A completely hands-free in-vehicle phone system i.e. equipped with a loud-speaker system and fixed microphone - both typically mounted inside the vehicle on or near the dashboard.
- A portable device with only a single ear-piece. Note: Using only one ear-piece from a device with two ear-pieces is not acceptable - it is the design of the device that matters, not how many ear-pieces that are actually used.
- Approved equipment used during official (licensed) driving instruction or driving tests.
Apart from the above, the driver may not use any phone or other audiovisual device. Certainly not an ordinary mobile phone that the driver holds next to one ear while driving with only one hand. The police in Portugal view that use of mobile phones very negatively because they know how often it distracts drivers and causes accidents. Other devices such as portable music players may only be used by the driver if they do not have two ear-pieces. The use of hand-held cameras (or using the camera feature of a mobile phone) is not allowed.
The use of a dashboard camera ('dashcam') in Portugal is probably illegal. There is some uncertainty about this and how strictly the police enforce this restriction. The limit might be a human/civil rights issue, not a driving issue. That is, you can not legally take video images of other people or their property. Or at the very least not subsequently publish that digital data without anonymising everything. On balance you should assume it is not legal to use a dashcam or similar equipment such as a helmet-mounted camera while driving a motorcycle.
The fine for illegal use of mobile phones and similar devices while driving is €120-€600.
Radar detectors and similar devices
It is illegal to use a device that detects police radar used for enforcing speed limits. It is illegal to use any device that detects electronic equipment used for enforcing road traffic laws in Portugal.
The penalties for use of this type of equipment are very severe. Firstly a fine of €500-€2500. Secondly, seizure of the equipment or - if that is not possible - seizure of documents that identify the vehicle, thus rendering the vehicle not fit to use until such time as the offending equipment can be confiscated.