The past two years has seen significant debate around one particularly controversial topic: Brexit! Whether you are an EU champion or desperate to get out, there may be at least one aspect of leaving that has been overlooked by motorists. The Cross-Border Enforcement Directive came into effect in the UK in 2017, and the changes could see hundreds of thousands of motorists face penalties and fines for speeding in Europe.
The former rules
Many motorists did not know the rules that applied if caught speeding abroad and we often received enquiries about this very issue and the framework surrounding speeding tickets abroad is significantly more complicated than our own domestic policy.
European countries started sharing information in 2004, when the mutual recognition scheme was implemented. This saw disqualifications imposed by one country be upheld in another EU country, but the position with penalty points has always been a bit trickier. EU Countries were having visitors break their speeding laws and escaping penalty, and they started working together to help get penalties enforced across the continent. The foundation of enforceability derives from International Public Law and a body called Eucaris, and by the end of 2012, all EU member states were on board and the idea was to have an ‘international speeding ticket’.
Eucaris allows the DVSA in the UK to bypass authorities like the police and customs when sharing information with its foreign equivalent. Once the DVSA had co-operated with the foreign body prosecuting the UK motorist, there were three options available:
ï Execution of foreign penal sentences; and
ï The transfer of proceedings.
The execution of a foreign penal sentence is when the UK courts impose a penalty determined by the country in which the offence was committed. The transfer of criminal proceedings would be carried out in cases where it was more convenient, appropriate and in the best interests of justice.
The cross-border enforcement directive
The directiveís goal is to allow foreign police to pursue and fine the driver or registered keeper of the vehicle. Whilst speeding offences are likely to be the most common offence that is dealt with under the new directive, it also applies to a range of offences, including drink driving, mobile phone offences and running a red light, for example.
The relevant prosecuting authority should write to the registered owner of the vehicle and it must:
ï Be in the language of the registered vehicleís certificate
ï Contain information about the offence
ï The date and time of detection
ï The law infringed upon, and
ï The legal consequences of the offence
Can I get points on my licence from offences committed abroad?
No. There is no transfer of penalty points to UK Driver Licences for motoring offences committed abroad.
Will the fine be the same as it is in my home country?
No, the level of fine will be the same amount that a registered owner of that country would receive. This means it could be more, or less, than a fine you would receive in the UK.
Travelling abroad in the future
If you travel abroad, the EU has produced a guide which can be viewed online and downloaded as an app to help drivers familiarise themselves with the laws of the member states before they visit.
Estimates show that fines by foreign drivers cost the British Government more than £2 million a year in lost income. The Department of Transport said: ìWhile 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.î
If youíre a regular driver abroad, would this impact your stance on Brexit? If the answer is yes, even if the UK did change the laws, it would likely not be in a way that would upset our European neighbours furtherÖ
Motoring Defence Solicitors are road traffic lawyers specialising in drink and drug driving offences. Based out of their central London offices, they provide free advice on a range of offences to motorists nationwide. You can contact Neil Sargeant for free on 0800 433 2880 or visit the website at www.drinkdrugdriving.co.uk.