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French police pursuing thousands of UK motorists over driving offences

Published 13 August 2019

More than 250,000 UK motorists are being pursued by French authorities over alleged driving offences committed this summer.

In 2017, the UK joined 18 other European Member States in agreeing to share details of motorists accused of breaking the law abroad.

If your car is snapped by a speed camera in Germany, for example, the German police can now contact the DVLA in the UK and request the name and address of the registered keeper.

A freedom of information investigation carried out by breathalyser manufacturer AlcoSense has discovered that the French police have requested the details for 246,138 UK vehicles over five months between February and June this year.

This accounts for three quarters of all requests from EU member states during the same time period.

Germany follows, with 22,845 requests, followed by Italy with 16,993. Finland made just three requests in that time while Croatia, Malta, Slovenia, and the Netherlands all made fewer than 100 requests to the DVLA.

Driving offences which could see you pursued by foreign authorities include speeding, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, using a mobile phone, not wearing a seatbelt and using a bus lane.

Do I have to pay a speeding fine from another country?

If you've been caught for a legitimate offence, the easiest action is to pay up. You won't get points on your licence and fines are usually fairly reasonable as long as you pay within a certain time period.

If you ignore the offence, fines will often automatically increase. Under the EU Cross Border Enforcement Directive, Member States are able to chase fines across borders, and you might find that you face action on returning to the country.

If you regularly drive across Europe, you could find your car triggers an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera and the local police will have the powers to enforce the fine - which might, by now, be much larger.

Should you wish to contest the fine, the letter informing you of the penalty will provide details on how to appeal it with the relevant authorities.

Comments

   on 14 August 2019

What happens when we leave the EU? Can they still chase us?

F1Timbo    on 14 August 2019

So how many foreign registered cars that have committed offences in the UK been pursued with other EU member states such as France?? #somethingismissinghere

soldierboy 001    on 20 August 2019

It is to costly to chase up a couple of pounds so they don't bother to chase up as they can not enforce a fine only request, and number plate recognition would not work to have them stopped at the port of exit or entry. Even the French requests don't have to be paid but could cause problems if you visit or pass through regularly.;

   on 14 August 2019

And under Article 6 of EU Convention on Human Rights, prosecuting authorities are required to communicate with you in a language you understand, so presumably you would have a defence for ignoring any ticket not translated for you into English by the prosecuting authority.

Howard Millichap    on 20 August 2019

A friend of mine got a speeding ticket from France in perfect English.

Captain-Cretin    on 15 August 2019

nearly a quarter of a million sounds a bit large.


Any bets the French are trying to push through offences from long before the agreement started??

its not like they dont have a history of targeting UK drivers or anything.......

stojom    on 15 August 2019

No doubt they are trying to get the money in before we leave the eu. Perhaps the legislation won’t apply to British drivers then.

APV    on 20 August 2019

No doubt they are enforcing their laws, regardless of the country of origin of the law breaking driver, which is no more or less than one should expect.

KenScotland    on 20 August 2019

While driving a Hertz rental car in September 2017 I somehow managed to collect not one but three speeding tickets on one journey in France. I had traveled regularly in France for the last thirty years so I was shocked when Hertz charged me three times for divulging my licence details to the French enforcement authority. I then had to wait for the speeding tickets to arrive at my home address in the UK. The first two came in quite quickly and with the French multi-lingual website were easy enough to pay. A delay in paying means an automatic escalation of the fine. The third ticket took months to arrive and I had noticed the first two had "Gabon" instead of Great Britain in the "country" address field. So it turned out this one had gone to Gabon in West Africa then to North Berwick, Maine in the USA where a helpful postal worker had sent it on to me. By this time the fine was in the second escalated band. I tried to appeal but got nowhere and so had to pay, prior to the appeal, the full amount demanded. There did not seem any choice as we have a property in France and drive there regularly. Lots of UK people living in France think that they can't be fined if they drive a UK registered car but this, since 2017, is not the case.
An extra problem is the crazy way town speed limits are posted. Very often the first thing you notice is a 70 kph "rappel" sign when you can't remember seeing the initial 70 zone sign. We are being extra careful now and still find it a problem.
Thought my experience might be of interest. Hertz probably have me black-listed as a bad driver risk!
Ken Scotland.

   on 20 August 2019

I got done in a 90Kph zone for doing 92Kph in June and paid up.

Why doesn't the Dartford Crossing take action against the foreign drivers for unpaid tolls?

The Citroën fan    on 20 August 2019

The Dartford Crossing does issue fines to foreign-registered vehicles. So does London for LEZ infractions.

Firmbutfair    on 27 August 2019

I got done in a 90Kph zone for doing 92Kph in June and paid up. Why doesn't the Dartford Crossing take action against the foreign drivers for unpaid tolls?

How can the French authorities justify this indefensible fine when it is NOT SCIENTIFICALLY POSSIBLE to absolutely guarantee the accuracy of their camera measurement system to within 2 parts in 90 i.e. to within +/- 2.2% let alone making NO ALLOWANCE for the inaccuracy of the vehicle speedometer and NO ALLOWANCE for driver reading error!

IN SUMMARY: In all fields of metrology and scientific measurement there is uncertainty associated with each and every part of the measurement process. Thus it is necessary to make allowances for (at least) the following sources of uncertainty:

*1 the calibration error in the speed camera sensor

*2 drift due to 'ageing' in the internal camera calibration reference over time

*3 the elapsed time since the camera and sensor was last calibrated

*4 variation as a function of ambient temperature

*5 angle of incidence between the vehicle and the camera

*6 characteristic conflict resolution of multiple signal reflections from front of vehicle vs passenger and/or cabin reflections

*7 potential for multipath reflections from other vehicles caught in the sensor beam during the critical measurement phase

*8 the inherent inaccuracy of the vehicle speedometer

*9 the exact wheel diameter dependent on the tyre profile fitted to the car

*10 an allowance for tyre condition regarding levels of tread wear

*11 an allowance for reading uncertainty on the internal vehicle speed display, whether at best a digital readout or at worst an analogue reading - e.g. a needle on a round dial

*12 an allowance for parallax on all analogue displays

*13 allowance for 'rounding errors' in the vehicle speedo measurement system

*14 an allowance of +/- one least significant digit on all analogue speedo displays

*15 drift in speedometer calibration since originally set at time of manufacture

*16 temperature inside the vehicle

This (non-exhaustive) list has up to 16 potential sources of measurement error and/or uncertainty so BEING FINED for doing 92 kph in a 90 kph zone is SCIENTIFICALLY INDEFENSIBLE and could easily be LEGALLY CHALLENGED by a competent solicitor.

Before speed cameras were introduced in the UK and for some considerable time after they were introduced it was customary for all UK Police Authorities to apply an allowance of 10% plus 2 mph to anyone seen to be speeding - thus prosecution and/or fines were unlikely for absolute speeds of up to 35 in a 30 mph zone, 46 in a 40 zone, 57 in a 50, 68 in a 60 and up to 79 mph in a 70 mph zone. These were realistic 'real world' guidelines which fully recognised the absolute measurement uncertainties listed above and gave the UK motorist a fair and reasonable allowance for momentary inattention, failure to see the initial warning of any an unexpected speed limit reduction on cross country routes or the occasional need to accelerate briskly to overtake a slowly moving vehicle, cyclist, farm tractor, milk float or a battery electric vehicle in ‘limp home mode’ on its last dregs of battery power etc. It is arguable that the recently introduced UK so called zero tolerance speeding tables of being 'clocked and fined ' for doing just 31 mph in a 30 mph zone and generally just one mph over the prevailing limit are FUNDAMENTALLY UNSOUND and are consequently LEGALLY and SCIENTIFICALLY INDEFENSIBLE.

Howard Millichap    on 20 August 2019

A dirty number plate might help...............ooops!

   on 20 August 2019

A dirty number plate or, 'Those pesky kids put black insulation tape on my plate (in a furious voice), so sorry officer." Be sure to change the tape regularly or the cameras will pick up the 'changes' and fine you anyway. Oh, and please, no more 'stick to the limit'. 92kph in a 90kph zone is a joke.

Don1988    on 20 August 2019

I feel as though I can never drive into Monaco again. In 1986 I got a parking ticket as my 1.0L Metro was slightly out of its bay.

However as I was 28 at the time I'm not sure they'd recognise me.

Model Flyer    on 20 August 2019

More relevant to us is How many requests have been made by the DVLA to these other countries . We regularly see foriegn motorists driving like loons here in the south east but have virtually no police patrol vehicles to catch them
So the press will bash us uk motorists but just forget the euro nutter drivers ho regularly drive on our roads .

DrTeeth    on 20 August 2019

That is nothing compared to the UK drivers driving like dicks.

1994    on 20 August 2019

so having read all the comments Honest John will you make a Freedom of Information Request on our behalf? .. or do ineed to do it.. and if so could you tell me how... Also can i ask do you know if we leave the EU with 'no deal' will this be one of those 'things' we no longer share just like the EU who say they will no longer 'share' Gallilio GPs with us?

Charing    on 20 August 2019

I agree with Model Flyer, I regularly drive on the M20 through Kent and currently the miles of 50 mph whilst the Smart motorway is constructed are regularly disregarded by numerous foreign trucks together with some cars and vans but the are no/very few police patrols. Perhaps when the Smart motorway operates the foreign law breakers will be prosecuted. Personally I doubt it because there will be so much money generated by British drivers' offences that the powers that be won't bother.

aethelwulf    on 20 August 2019

The UK is a soft touch. That is why Brussels wants us in the EU. T'was always the same . Les Anglo-Saxons are stupid you know. They will pay us billions a year to be told what to do. Heh.heh. heh.

Richard Marshall    on 20 August 2019

Quite right that they should do so. Anti social driving in Europe is just as bad as doing it here. I wouldn't welcome such behaviour outside my house, why should they?

The alternative, post Brexit, is that when caught speeding offenders should be held in prisons until they have paid the fine. This is what UK law used to be when the address of an offender was not suitable for the issue of a summons..

Suck it up - its what you voted for.

vincey    on 20 August 2019

I understand the Italian authorities have a WHOLE year to send you a fine!! Beware!!

KenScotland    on 21 August 2019

The missing bit of information here is the huge number of French motorists who have been fined recently as roadside radar traps, fixed and mobile, have proliferated all over the country. The decrease in the speed limit on two-way secondary roads earlier this year, from 90kph to 80kph has also been a major factor. So many protests have come in from motorists that the authorities are considering reinstating the universal 90kph limit.

No one likes getting caught out and fined but surely the reasonable response has to be "It's a fair cop, guv" and pay up. Be glad its not an on the spot fine. This attitude of "Johnny Foreigner policeman - bad" smacks of the xenophobia that fueled Brexit. If you are going to drive in another country you just have to be super careful, for a start we are sitting in a driving seat on the right hand side of the car. Know the law and stick to it.

Ken Scotland

Pete4L    on 22 August 2019

I got caught in Hungary in 2005 in a 40 kph zone (mobile camera cops) ...totally my fault I was doing 40 MPH! Anyway the fine as about £12...... I just paid it at one of their post offices..... Peace of mind & all that!

sixcylinder    on 25 August 2019

Why do we we get so many fines coming our way from France? Simple, because we always obey the EU rules, many other countries in the EU bend the rules to their benefit, therefore because we are generally law abiding we are the easy touch.

It would be interesting to see the statistics on number of fines in relation to the number of foreign registered vehicle circulating in France?

Bilboman    on 13 September 2019

According to the RAC, two million motorists drive through or into other EU countries every year. Assuming that the vast majority will drive in France at some point, the figure of 250,000 fines - one in eight motorists - doesn't seem disproportionate, given that one in three motorists is given a fine in Britain every year. (See bit.ly/2mdb69D)
It stands to reason that a British driver arriving in France is more likely to make a mistake than a "native": having to concentrate on driving on the other side, the awkwardness of overtaking, warning signs in French, unfamiliar speed limits, trying to think in kms and km/h... And far more British drivers take their cars to the continent than vice-versa, so far more are going to be fined.

Edited by Bilboman on 13/09/2019 at 12:25

Bilboman    on 13 September 2019

Should drink-drivers registering 36 mg be let off as they were "only a bit over"? How about a bit more leeway on tyre tread depths or exhaust emissions while we're at it?
If a fine for doing 92 km/h in a 90 zone seems harsh, the only way to avoid it is to aim to drive at 85, which is what Australian drivers have to do, as there is zero tolerance for speeding in most states. Everyone knows that, and drivers have given up complaining.
A speed limit, in any case, is the maximum permitted, not a command to drive right up to that speed at all times.

Christopher Rohrer    on 2 October 2019

I've just received a ticket from France saying I was doing 97 KpH I've checked my dash cam footage at it doesn't show that speed. I'm appealing against the fine as they allow an error of 5kph for fixed installations and 10 kph for mobile. My dashcam says I was doing 58MpH which works out to 93kpH allow the 5kph error and they should let me off as then I would be doing 88 and my speedo was illegible for continental use as the numbering is red on a dark barkground. Not easy to read when you're heading West into the afternoon sun. I've sent a still from the dashcam showing that their equipment was in fact incorrect. Now waiting to find out what happens next. And this was in a car built by a French government owned company (Renault). Although this is a cherished plate, My nephew will be getting it (he has the same initials as my late father who's plates it were) and I will get my own cherished plates.

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