Why UK Drivers Could Face Huge Fines For EU Driving Offences
The new EU Directive explained, what you could be fined for, how and why!
Due to new EU rules that were introduced two years ago, UK drivers could face fines of up to 750 euros if caught speeding on the continent.
The UK, along with the Republic of Ireland and Denmark, had been given a two-year exemption to the Directive, but that ended on the 6th May this year.
Previously a UK driver would have to be caught and stopped at the road to be fined by authorities in the EU country they were driving in, but now EU countries will be able to get the vehicle owner’s information directly from the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency thanks to ‘Directive 2015/413/EU facilitating the cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences’.
A similar agreement has already been in place between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and between the UK and Isle of Man.
It’s not just speeding you could be fined for either. After returning from a holiday in an EU country such as France or Spain, according to the European Transport Safety Council, there are eight major offences that are included in the Directive:
- Using a mobile phone not hands-free (or any other communications device) while driving
- Failure to stop at a red traffic light or other mandatory stop signal
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Drink driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Using a forbidden lane e.g. a bus lane, a lane designated for emergency vehicles or a lane not in use due to roadworks
- Not wearing a safety helmet whilst using a motorcycle
The Directive’s aim is to clamp down on irresponsible behaviour behind the wheel. EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc said: "Our evaluation shows that, thanks to the new automatic exchange of information, offenders are less likely to get away with dangerous behaviour.”
According to the European Commission, despite non-resident drivers accounting for approximately only 5% of road traffic in EU countries, the number of detected speed offences committed by non-residents was a whopping 15% of all speed offences.
Once the UK officially leaves the European Union in 2019 the situation may change. A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "On 23 June 2016, the EU referendum took place and the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.”
"While the UK is still a member of the EU, we are obliged to bring in rules on cross border enforcement. Once we have left the EU, our Parliament will have the power to amend the law.”
How Much Can I Be Fined For Speeding In The EU?
Like the UK, the rest of the EU member states all have their own, (sometimes) complex ways of fining drivers for irresponsible behaviour behind the wheel, such as speeding. There is no one figure that can be determined, but depending on the circumstances, you could be fined over £1,000 in some EU countries, depending on the speed you were clocked at. When driving through a foreign country it’s always best to make sure you check the rules and regulations of the road, as they can often differ from country to country.
What Happens If I Ignore A Fine In The Post From An EU Country?
It’s still early days in terms of the impact of the new Directive on UK drivers caught speeding, or breaking one of the other seven specified motoring offences, in the EU, so there aren’t many confirmed stories about the matter yet, so we really don’t know. It also depends on the country you were caught breaking the law in and how they intend to go after drivers refusing to pay. The fine could work in the same way to a parking fine in the sense that the ‘debt’ gets sold onto a private collection agency.
Upon returning to the country you committed the offence in, you may face negative consequences for avoiding the fine, such as being hauled before the courts. The only fool proof way to avoid any negative consequences it to just pay the fine.
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