One Fine Muddle; New EU Laws Mean British Tourists Could Be Fined Back at Home If They Speed Abroad. but the System's Rules Are Bafflingly Vague

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 19, 2006 | Go to article overview
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One Fine Muddle; New EU Laws Mean British Tourists Could Be Fined Back at Home If They Speed Abroad. but the System's Rules Are Bafflingly Vague


Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS

IT WASN'T my fault, honest.

At least it didn't feel like it at the time. I was on a long trek from Burgundy, right across France on a patch work of different autoroutes and routes nationales, to Perigord.

I'd managed to pick the busiest weekend of the French calendar for the family trip and we spent most of the day in jams.

Then, as I rounded a corner near some roadworks, the speed limit suddenly dropped. Rather than risk a prang from the maniac behind who was literally five feet from my rear bumper, I lifted of f gently instead of hitting the brakes.

At just that moment I was flashed by a large speed camera.

It was better than having forced the driver behind to rearend me but I spent the rest of the journey wondering whether I'd be pursued by the French authorities when I got home.

Would there be a big fine could they put points on my licence? The answer to both questions turned out to be a firm "no" - but all that is about to change.

Under new EU regulations every member state must have commenced legislative procedures by March next year, enabling their citizens to be fined when they get home.

So, if you get flashed by a camera in France, Germany, Greece or wherever, overseas officials will send the fine to the relevant authorities in the driver's home country.

They will have to pass it on and - if the fine is not paid send in bailiffs to collect; just as if you failed to pay a motoring fine incurred here.

Motoring organisations argue that this is fair - why should you be able to break laws abroad and get away with it? After all, we expect foreign-registered vehicles to follow the rules here.

But, of course, it's not that simple.

Different countries will progress at different rates; it's no easy matter setting up a new department to deal with thousands - possibly millions - of offences a year.

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One Fine Muddle; New EU Laws Mean British Tourists Could Be Fined Back at Home If They Speed Abroad. but the System's Rules Are Bafflingly Vague
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