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Common Driving Offences Abroad

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 18 Mar 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Abroad Foreign Countries Driving

Driving abroad without learning the rules of the road of foreign countries can often land UK drivers in hot water. UK motorists should always research the driving rules of any country abroad to avoid being fined or penalised once back in the UK.

Researching the Rules of the Road Abroad

Driving abroad isn’t just a case of driving on the right hand side of the road. Many foreign countries have their own driving rules that UK motorists are not generally familiar with. One example is the difference in Drink Driving limits abroad; many European countries have a much lower limit than the UK. In Belgium it is against the law to use cruise control. These are just a few examples of motoring offences abroad that can leave UK motorists paying the price abroad or when back home.

UK Motorists Fined in the UK for Offences Abroad

UK motorists who do break foreign motoring laws can still be chased for penalties and fines once back in Britain. Many motorists driving abroad who have committed offences such as parking or speeding violations assume they are free and clear once they are back in the UK. But the DVLA will pass on the UK driver’s details to any foreign country that requests it to follow up on motoring offences. Some countries also use hefty on the spot fines for motorists who violate their road laws. France is seen as the number one country for pursuing foreign motorists who commit motoring offences in their country.

Options Open to Foreign Countries Pursuing UK Motorists

The UK DVLA will be the first point of call when foreign governments decide to pursue UK motorists for driving offences. The DVLA are able to send out tickets to motorists in the UK on behalf of foreign countries. All European Union countries are legally committed to following up unpaid fines incurred by UK motorists when abroad. UK drivers who are convicted of serious driving offences while abroad may be subject to a Complete Ban. Motorists who use hire company vehicles will not escape as hire companies will pass on the motorist’s details if they have committed an offence abroad.

Research Driving Rules Abroad

Any motorist who is considering driving abroad should familiarise themselves with the rules of the road of the intended country. There are many websites available that will provide driving abroad information, rules and driving laws. Each country will have their own specific driving laws. The simple act of crossing country borders in Europe could mean a change in the driving laws. It is important to research all the rules of each country where driving abroad is intended.

Common Driving Offences Abroad

Parking and speeding are two of the most common driving offences abroad. Many countries will use on the spot fines for a range of motoring offences, and these fines can be hefty. Spain uses on the spot fines for parking and speeding offences, not wearing a seat belt and not having proper vehicle documentation. Non-residents who commit these offences in Spain can be hit with an on the spot fine of as much as 302 euros, that’s £257. Spanish residents are not subject to on the spot fines simply because non-residents have a tendency to leave the country without paying the fine.

Examples of Driving Laws Abroad

Driving abroad is not simply a case of remembering to drive on the right side of the road. Foreign countries have a number of different motoring rules that may seem strange to UK motorists. A small sample of driving laws abroad:

  • Motorists who drive 25km above the speed limit in France can have their licence confiscated on the spot
  • Overtaking a school bus letting children off in Germany can lead to prosecution
  • Driving without dipped headlights is an offence in Austria
  • Special permits are required to drive through low emission zones in Germany
  • Driving through historic zones known as ZTLs in Italy even by mistake can mean multiple fines
  • Dipped headlights when poor daytime visibility exists is compulsory in France
  • Children under the age of 13 are not permitted to sit in front seats in Switzerland
  • Headlamp converters are compulsory in Germany, France and Italy
Driving in foreign countries can be hazardous for drivers who have not taken the effort to research the rules of the road abroad. Five million UK motorists cross the channel every year and many come back to find driving fines waiting for them in the letterbox. It does not take much time to research the driving laws of other countries; the alternative could be hefty fines or worse.

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I've just had 2 fines(in the same envelope) from Italy for April 2018 (it's now March 2019) stating my husband drove in a restricted area. The violations are 6 minutes apart. My husband's first name is not spelt correctly on the notification. We had no idea we were in a restricted area. Seems ludicrous they are allowed a year before throwing this at us. We dont still hold records for the rental car as we had no idea anything was amiss.
Curlywurly - 18-Mar-19 @ 11:10 PM
Is this a pre brexit panic from the French to get fines in from over 6 months ago?
MotorMB - 18-Mar-19 @ 9:10 PM
On Friday 15 March I received a Violation Notice from France stating that my vehicle was checked at 86 kph where the authorised speed was 80 kph on 14 September 2018. I believe you are allowed slight leeway, so the speed used to fine me was actually 81 kph! I have paid the 45 euros fine immediately, but am now wondering if this was on one of the many roads where the speed limit signs were still showing 90 kph even though the law reduced these roads to 80 kph on 1st July 2018? Judging by what I am seeing on this website, a lot of British motorists have recently had the same experience from trips to France around that time. As I knew about this reduction and clearly was exceeding the limit, I accept that I am guilty but it does seem a bit of a coincidence that these fines should suddenly crop up 6 months after the event.I love France and French roads so this won't put me off driving over there again, I'll just be more careful, but I am a bit concerned that friends who live there tell me penalty points are now added to licences with speeding fines.
Gill - 18-Mar-19 @ 12:50 PM
Same here... Violation notice from france dated on 28.02.2019 for alleged speeding dated on 28.08.2018. Anyone found reliable info if it is enforceable after 6 months ths? Anyone?
Moly - 15-Mar-19 @ 7:47 PM
In the UK, a speeding fines need to be sent within 14 days of the offence. I have just received a speeding fine from France - 8 months after the offence. Is this enforceable? I am reluctant to pay it because of the 8 month delay.
CycleGuy - 15-Mar-19 @ 5:50 PM
We too have had a speeding ticket from September last year.They say we were doing 86 in a 80 zone. We were not aware speed limits on minor roads have been reduced to 80 km from 90 km evidently this happened on 1st July 2018. Do we get points on licence and do we have to inform insurance company in UK.
Dma - 15-Mar-19 @ 9:30 AM
I too have just had the same thing happen. Had a ticket through for an offence that was last September in france. Does anyone know if you get points on your uk license?
AL - 14-Mar-19 @ 7:34 PM
So it seems that I am in the same boat as many others here. Two fines, from cameras 1hr apart (must have been the same road!), both 86kph in an 80kph (a difference of 1 or 2mph!), also from 6months ago (Sept 18). Is it me, or does this look like they targeting foreign motorists. Surely more leeway should be given here. It is enough to put you off driving abroad and I certainly won't be visiting France again! I, too, would like to know if I can contest this.
Lozza - 14-Mar-19 @ 4:35 PM
We have just received a speeding notice through from France Violation notice date 28/2/19 Date of offence: 27/8/18 86kph in an 80 limit Looking at other forums, it seems the French have done some kind of bulk request to the DVLA! I'm trying to research if there are any time limits that apply to these fines, especially as we are due to drive back to France in 3 weeks' time.
SARAHG1969 - 14-Mar-19 @ 1:32 PM
Hi, Today I received a speeding fine from 6 months ago from the French authorities. Is this enforceable?
Plums - 14-Mar-19 @ 1:22 PM
My partner and I were in France in September 2018. We just (March 2019) received a speeding fine from there. Does France have a time within which they have to send the letter about this? I know in the UK it's 2 weeks but would like to know how long France can send these in case there are going to be any more turning up.
Alex - 14-Mar-19 @ 12:43 PM
My brother had 3 speeding fines from France in August 2018 and they have come today 6months later is there a time restriction to say they can't fine him within an allotted time
Winshine - 7-Mar-19 @ 9:26 AM
I received a speeding fine in Germany, that I have paid. Now, the German police have sent me a letter, all in German with no translation, asking me to post my licence to them. If I have no licence to present if requested to the UK police, this is an offence and so I do not want to post my licence to Germany. Can the German police chase me further?
CityDrone - 5-Nov-18 @ 12:54 PM
I have just received a fine from near Venice for 253 euros for exceeding a 70kph limit by 10kph. I've paid it because I have no way of knowing if this is correct but assume their GATSO or whatever they use is working accurately. The Italian authorites want deails of who was driving but it could have been me or my wife, we have no idea. Any thoughts of how I can get a copy of the image ?
Zimmerpower - 29-Oct-18 @ 11:26 PM
got a speeding ticket in germany onthe a38speed limit is 60km/h i was doing 83km/h so 23 km/h over the limit canwill this affevt my english licence as the letter is all in german apart from a bit on the back which dosent say much thanks
denzy - 2-Sep-18 @ 10:22 PM
Hi how can I know have I got fine while I drove in Germany
Marry - 20-Aug-18 @ 9:39 PM
Hi, I’m a UK citizen, I recently received two fines for speeding in france! Can I get points on my licence for this ?
Abs - 5-Jul-18 @ 9:34 AM
ASamuels- Your Question:
I got a fine whilst driving a ped abroad in Portugal that I didn’t know about I still haven’t paid it and will be travelling to another European country soon Will this affect my latest trip

Our Response:
There have been cases where UK drivers have ignored fines and been stopped at customs in the country where the fine was issued and actually been given higher penalties
NoPenaltyPoints - 4-Jul-18 @ 2:25 PM
I got a fine whilst driving a ped abroad in Portugal that I didn’t know about I still haven’t paid it and will be travelling to another European country soon Will this affect my latest trip
ASamuels - 3-Jul-18 @ 4:47 PM
I know I have been caught speeding in Italy on more than one occasion. How can I check the points on my ‘virtual’ Italian licence? My UK licence is clear but I’m concerned on my next trip to Italy I could discover I’m banned there.
TooFastInItaly - 10-Jun-18 @ 8:52 PM
Yp - Your Question:
I received a fine for going 20 kph over limit in French alps. I ignored first fine for €90 now they sent new fine for €300! What will happen if I continue to ignore the fines? Will they prosecute me here in the UK? Many thanks

Our Response:
If you ignore the fine, the Italian police could still pursue it via a UK agency and even start civil proceedings to recover it.
NoPenaltyPoints - 8-May-18 @ 3:16 PM
Can any EU countries impose points on a UK driving licence?
Roavola - 7-May-18 @ 6:33 PM
I received a fine for going 20 kph over limit in French alps. I ignored first fine for €90 now they sent new fine for €300! What will happen if I continue to ignore the fines? Will they prosecute me here in the UK? Many thanks
Yp - 6-May-18 @ 7:35 PM
Simongoose1 - Your Question:
Recently travelled to Germany in our own car and just recently have received a speeding ticket, they are asking information of the driver involved and submit driving licence number / date of issue on the reply form.It does state if convicted could lead to a driving suspension / points. Just wanted to clarify and ask the question if this is Possible on a UK driving licence? Look forward to hearing from youKindest RegardsSimon

Our Response:
There is an EU directive in place that provides mutual ability to implement fines between countries. It's unlikely that points can be implemented on your UK licence but you may be banned from driving in Germany for a period of time.
NoPenaltyPoints - 2-May-18 @ 11:18 AM
Recently travelled to Germany in our own car and just recently have received a speeding ticket, they are asking information of the driver involved and submit driving licence number / date of issue on the reply form. It does state if convicted could lead to a driving suspension / points. Just wanted to clarify and ask the question if this is Possible on a UK driving licence? Look forward to hearing from you Kindest Regards Simon
Simongoose1 - 29-Apr-18 @ 1:42 AM
Stopped in holland and licence taken by police for speeding , said i will probably get a 2 month ban , does this apply in the uk ?
Ry - 29-Mar-18 @ 7:21 PM
sima - Your Question:
I'm a UK citizen with a UK licence and was caught speeding in a hire car in Geneva. They sent a 600 CHF fine plus 150 CHF admin charge! Now they mention something about my licence. Can they enfore points on my UK licence?

Our Response:
If you have a UK licence the Swiss authorities cannot endorse it with penalty points.
NoPenaltyPoints - 26-Mar-18 @ 9:55 AM
I'm a UK citizen with a UK licence and was caught speeding in a hire car in Geneva. They sent a 600 CHF fine plus 150 CHF admin charge! Now they mention something about my licence.... Can they enfore points on my UK licence?
sima - 23-Mar-18 @ 12:15 AM
Hi, I have recieved the same notication letter from an italian police authority. Happy to pay the fine for this offence but will not accept 6 points on my uk licience for running a red light on roads i was unfamiliar with and nervous driving on. What was thyou outcome of your case? Did you have to take the points or just pay fine? Thanks
Mickey - 10-Mar-18 @ 5:35 PM
MrsWilks - Your Question:
My husband received notification today from what looks like local Italian police saying he ran a red light whilst we were on holiday there (hire car). It has taken then from 3rd May 2017 until December 20th 2017 to let us know about this. They say the fine if paid in 5 days is €144.10. They also mention 6 penalty points and for us to send personal and license details. should we do this? Will they go on his UK license? If they are only valid in Italy how long do they last for?Many thanks.

Our Response:
Points cannot be added to your licence cannot by the Italian jurisdiction, they can however pursue you for payment of the fine. Take necessary steps to ensure the notification is bona fide before making the payment.
NoPenaltyPoints - 20-Dec-17 @ 11:37 AM
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