British drivers touring France
this summer could be in for a shock as the French justice system introduces a scheme to ensure foreign motorists who break the law don’t get away without paying a fine.
Until recently, foreign drivers could be reasonably assured that if they committed a traffic offence in France, they would escape any penalty. Recently however, an agreement on a dual penalty system was signed by France, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg which meant that a driver from one of those countries would receive a summons in their own, if they broke the law elsewhere. To standardise the arrangement, a new EU directive comes into force on the 7th of November extending this arrangement to all EU countries with the exception of the UK, Ireland and Denmark who have chosen to opt out of it.
Not to be defeated, the French have devised their own system which will catch drivers from any of those countries, and the UK in particular which is one of the largest foreign groups using France’s roads.
From now on, penalties imposed on British drivers will be punishable by an on the spot fine which amounts to ninety euros if you are less than 40km/h over the limit. Above that limit, you can face a fine of up to 750 euros and can have your car seized.
Drivers are being told that the most likely part of their journey to be caught is near tollbooths where the police radio ahead to tell the booth operators to stop you and direct you to a waiting police car.
Pleading that you have no cash won’t work for you will be driven to a cashpoint machine to withdraw the funds and if you still cannot pay, you’ll have to go before a judge and spend three days in custody whilst your car will also be impounded until the fine is paid.
The on the spot fines don’t just apply to speeding. Several laws, of which many British drivers travelling in France are unaware, carry ninety euro fines including not carrying a reflective jacket or a warning triangle. The fines are cumulative and are often added when drivers are stopped for another offence such as speeding.
The latest crackdown on British drivers comes after the debacle of the French demand for breathalyser kits in cars
whilst still unclear and subject to change; the law currently indicates that you should have two in-date breathalyser kits in the car but you can’t be penalised for not having them.