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Watch Out, Les Flics Are About

Watch Out, Les Flics Are About

Yes, it’s that time of year again when our minds turn to thoughts of a summer holiday. It may be that you decide to take a nice motoring trip across the channel on the mysterious continent. Be warned though; they do things differently there.

In Europe since 2013, national police forces and the relevant government departments regularly share the details of motorists who break the rules of the road in other countries. This means that the offended nation can chase offenders, metaphorically speaking, across borders. Thus the personal details of the offender can be requested by foreign agencies.

The UK government decided to opt out of this EU agreement which meant that British motorists who committed a traffic violation in a European country would not get their details passed on by the DVLA, should they be requested based on licence plate data.

All this is about to change. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the bill was incorrectly drafted and should have been included under the road safety directive and not the policing directive. You can see what’s coming can’t you? That’s right – Britain has no opt out of the road safety directive.

This means that British miscreants who offend local laws (no matter how innocently or inadvertently – it‘s the same the whole world over. Guilty regardless.) and are caught on camera can be pursued to their home addresses because the DVLA will slavishly hand over your personal stats. You see, in Europe the car owner is responsible even if they were a hundred miles away. In the UK, the driver at the time is responsible.

This no longer cuts any ice with the Euro-grandees. Offenders will receive a letter – in English – demanding that the penalty demand be answered and the fine paid. Our government will go along with this of course and at least it does have one positive side. Foreign drivers who commit offences here can also be pursued.

Of course, there is no legal UK obligation for drivers to pay. It can simply be ignored but be warned – if you turn up for your summer holiday in the same country where you may have committed an offence previously they will look for you, they will fine and they will impound your car until you cough up the readies. You have been duly warned. Drive safely and carefully in Europe.

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- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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