Tuesday, June 25

Thousands of drivers pursued over foreign speeding fines



British drivers heading to the continent this summer are being warned not to ignore speed limits and other rules of the road amid a sharp rise in the number of motorists being pursued by foreign police forces.

Previously it was estimated that up to half a million UK drivers went unpunished for speeding each year in France alone, because they thought once they were back home they were untouchable.

But a new system called Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), which the UK signed up to two years ago, which means it is much easier for drivers from one country to be prosecuted by the authorities in another.

A foreign police force can apply to the UK authorities for the driver information and under the MLA system the Driver and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) must provide them.

Last year the UK received almost 2,000 requests for information about British drivers from other countries, up almost 20 per cent on the previous year.

Unlike in Britain, where a notice of intended prosecution must be sent to the driver within 14-days, some European countries including Italy allow 12-months, meaning a fine could be issued a long time after the original offence took place.

Thomson Reuters, which conducted the analysis of MLA statistics, said the steady increase in the number of requests pointed to a growth in willingness among prosecutors to investigate and doggedly pursue foreign drivers.

The system has also benefited from ever improving technology such as sophisticated roadside and mobile cameras.

Many countries also operate a system of on the spot roadside fine, which are impossible to escape.