European Parliament Looks Set To Change Law
A British driver that commits an offence in Europe could be traced, fined and taken to court if proposed laws come into force in May 2015.
As things stand, a motorist – assuming he/she is in a British registered vehicle rather than a foreign registered hire car – cannot be traced via the registration plate if a camera records an offence. Enforcement only comes via a police patrol vehicle.
But the European Parliament is expected to back proposals to trace a driver that exceeds the speed limit, runs a red light, uses a hand-held mobile or drives while impeded by alcohol and/or drugs.
The motorist will then receive a letter – written in English – enclosing a fine and threatening court action if it is not paid.
Ines Ayala Sender, a Spanish MEP and the EU Parliament's negotiator on the issue, argued the proposed law could cut road deaths by 50%.
Road Safety Experts Respond To Proposal
Ed Morrow, from the road safety organisation Brake, backed the proposal and argued: “For a driver who puts lives at risk to escape prosecution because their vehicle is registered in another country is both insulting and incomprehensible for victims”.
But Edmund King, AA president, claimed that a change could cause problems. He said: “In theory, tracking down drivers who break the law driving in other countries might sound like a good idea in terms of road safety, but in practice it could be a nightmare.”
“Different European countries have significantly different motoring laws and indeed penalties. If UK drivers receive a penalty notice for using a restricted lane in Spain, they may wish to contest it”. This, Mr King emphasised, “would prove impossible in most cases as often photographic evidence is not provided” and “returning to Europe for a court case is prohibitive in terms of cost.”
Foreign Drivers That Offend In UK To Be Traced
British authorities would also be able to peruse a foreigner that commits an offence in the UK. The Department for Transport said: “It's not right that foreign drivers have gone unpunished for speeding offences in the UK, and we are pleased this is set to change. But it mustn't be easier for British drivers to be prosecuted abroad than for foreign drivers to be prosecuted in the UK. We have made this clear from the outset of the negotiations.”