Getting caught abroad for speeding or being pulled over for drunk driving can lead to hefty fines. But there are European countries where French motorists do not fear much.
What do you risk when you commit a traffic violation in a foreign country? In France, the violation of the highway code, whether it results from an arrest or a contravention, physical or electronic, generally results in the sending of a report to the address linked to the vehicle registration certificate. The person then has a certain number of days to pay his fine, first reduced, then possibly increased in the event of exceeding the time limit for payment. Apart from a computer bug, rare but not impossible, it is difficult to escape the penalty!
Is it easier to slip through the cracks if the offense is committed outside our borders? Certainly, but not anywhere. According to a directive of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union dated March 11, 2015, which aims to “improve road safety throughout the Union and to guarantee equal treatment between drivers”, a large number of member countries – 19 including France – allow the cross-border exchange of information concerning offenses committed on the roads.
In concrete terms, in the event of a traffic offense committed in one of these 19 EU countries (see list below), plus Switzerland with which France has signed a bilateral agreement, the data from the registration certificate (grey card) are exchanged between the various administrations. This leads to the sending of a report to the address of the guilty driver who risks the same penalties as those which apply in the country where he is guilty of an offence.
Speeding in London will cost you nothing at all
But if 20 countries are now collaborating to find and punish the culprits, this means that there are a certain number in which we do not risk much administratively. And there’s no need to go ride in Nepal or in the depths of Guinea. Just go to the United Kingdom which, like Greece, Norway, Finland, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Albania or even Macedonia, does not share data with France to identify motorists guilty of traffic offenses.
Getting flashed in London for speeding has therefore become risk-free since January 1, 2021 (following Brexit), the English administration no longer having any obligation to transmit your contact details to its French counterpart… More generally, members of the European Union being flashed in the United Kingdom are now exempt from fines.
Furthermore, it is also interesting to know that only eight traffic offenses are subject to the directive followed by the twenty or so member countries. And that if the offender must pay once returned home a fine in the event of a traffic offense committed within the borders of these territories, no point(s) are deducted from the driving license when it has been perpetuated abroad. Finally, if the European Union has recently proposed to extend the list of offenses that can be tracked from one country to another, here are the ones for which you risk a fine in 2023:
- Failure to wear seat belt
- Crossing a red light
- Drunk driving
- Driving under the influence of narcotics
- Failure to wear the helmet
- Driving on a prohibited lane
- Unlawful use of a cell phone or any other communication device while driving a vehicle
The list of 19 countries concerned by the European directive, to which Switzerland must be added:
France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Republic of Ireland.