Direct Line magazine

Motoring fines abroad

Updated on: 10 March 2020

an 80 kilometres per hour sign

If you don’t have a handle on driving rules overseas, it can be easy to get caught out by a speed camera or landed with a parking ticket for straying into an area you shouldn’t.

This simple guide will explain what to do if a fine from abroad drops through the letterbox:

Am I safe once I’m back in the UK?

No. Don’t tear the ticket up!

There have been cases of UK drivers ignoring fines and being stopped at customs and hit with greater penalties when they return to the country in question.

European traffic police officer giving a ticket using an electronic console

The DVLA isn’t obliged to supply overseas police forces with information about UK citizens, but foreign authorities abroad can easily get round this by employing UK-based companies who can legally source information from the DVLA. However, there is likely to be an EU Directive in the next few years that will give authorities the power to access driving records from across the EU.

So, if you do get a parking ticket or are flashed by a camera, don’t be surprised if a penalty finds its way to you.

How long have I got before I have to pay it?

The time between breaking the rules and receiving the punishment varies from country to country.

Italian authorities have up to 360 days after they’ve obtained a driver’s details to make contact. In Germany, the limit is just three months.

If you get a ticket, you usually have 60 days to pay or appeal. Fines can be doubled if they are ignored, and the authority that fined you may use a debt collection agency local to you to recoup the money.

What happens if it’s in a hire car?

Car rental companies are nearly always required to pass on the details of whoever was renting the car to authorities. Some will even charge you an administration fee for doing so! On top of that, you’ll still probably have to pay the fine for the original offence.

If you do get a parking ticket or are flashed by a camera while on holiday, don’t be surprised if a penalty finds its way to you

What are my rights?

It’s useful to know where you stand if you get a motoring fine from overseas.

  • Parking fines are issued for civil offences, so there will just be a fine
  • If you’re charged with a criminal offence (which motoring offences are classed as) you’ve got the right to be informed, promptly, of the accusation being made and in a language you understand. Anyone accused should also be given the time and the facilities to prepare a defence. However, bear in mind, if you do appeal against a fine and it’s dismissed, the fine could double

What do I do?

If you don’t have grounds to dispute it or evidence that it’s been issued incorrectly, pay motoring fines from abroad promptly. Technology in the 21st century means it’s easy to stay in touch with family and friends while you’re away, but it also means it’s easy for authorities to find you.

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