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Mail surprise: French Speeding Ticket

This may sound familiar to anyone who contributed to a RS forum topic from 2015. (very educational BTW) Sorry but it's a long story.

To celebrate my retirement, and satisfy my wife's wanderlust, we went on a 14-month tour of Europe, from June 2019 through July 2020. During that period we rented out our house (to help finance the trip). Our snail mail was forwarded to a mail management service, which we could monitor via their web site. Sometimes the forward did not occur, and those excepted items ended up at the house, where our renters would hand them over to our property manager. When we returned home on August 1, 2020, we had a good pile of 'unforwarded' mail to go through. One of the items was a speeding ticket fine notice from France. All in French.

I Google-translated enough of it to know that it was indeed about a speeding violation, showing 3 different fine amounts, depending on how late one was in paying the fine. The notice had a URL to visit where you could pay the fine. So far so good, but I was not too happy about the highest fine amount ("Amende Majoree"), which was €180. This amount was for being more than 76 days late. The speeding event occurred on October 21, 2019, I think somewhere between Albertville and Grenoble, France. And here I am reading the notice over 300 days later!

Resigned to pay the €180, I went to the site and entered the requisite e-payment and key numbers, then clicked the [PAY YOUR FINE] button. Instead of seeing a payment method page, the following message (in red font) appeared: "The e-payment number you entered corresponds to a fine for which the payment deadline has passed. An increased fixed fine notice should be sent to you. You will be able to use this payment service for the payment of the increased fixed fine."

Another payment option on the page is "by phone." I clicked on that, and saw the phone number to call followed by instructions, including this step: "Let yourself be guided by the French spoken instructions." Ce bon? Non! <-- that's most of the French I know.

I am wondering if anyone here has experienced this and what you found to be the 'increased fixed fine' was? Did anyone call the number? Was it truly all in French? I will wait a day or two before calling that number to see what others have experienced. I usually like surprises, but I'm afraid this is like going to the dentist for a a checkup and finding out I need root canal.

Merci beaucoup!

Posted by
20443 posts

I guess I would wait for the official "increased fixed fine" notice to arrive. If it is indeed a fixed fine, there is no advantage to paying it early.

Posted by
32 posts

For what it’s worth. I never paid my Ireland parking ticket. Have been back since and nothing happened.

Posted by
2589 posts

I understand that in some cases, the French police have used collection agencies in the USA to force payment of speeding tickets. Keep good records of dates and make every effort to settle.

You should also file an appeal, which can be done on line, to contest the increased amounts due to your living outside of France and receiving late notification. You might start the appeal process here:

https://www.antai.gouv.fr/comment-contester?lang=en

Posted by
7075 posts

For what it’s worth. I never paid my Ireland parking ticket. Have been back since and nothing happened.

I'm sure your response was meant to be helpful. However, there is a bit of a difference between a parking ticket in Ireland and a speeding ticket in France. In many countries, including the US, parking tickets are not handled the same way as tickets for a traffic infraction.

Posted by
91 posts

Nancy- It was 10 years ago, pulled over in Ireland, officer said we were speeding. It was a rural road, he made some notes in his pad, and we were off. He never mentioned a fine, and we drove off happy (maybe 0730 on a Sunday). A few months later, I got a ticket in the mail. I called the number, explained what had happened (I was speeding, and got pulled over), she told me not to bother to pay and I could rent cars again no problem, enjoy your next trip. Again, years ago.

Portugal, last November, must have hit a speeding camera somewhere, a few months later I got the 35E invoice from rental company for providing my information to Portuguese police, as the car I rented had gone through a traffic camera...blah, blah, you will receive a notice from police saying how much to pay. Still waiting for that notice. Was supposed to be back in Portugal in 2 months so probably would have had an answer.

Last, red light camera in Netherlands a few years back, got the ticket letter in about 10 days or so. Paid that one easy enough, that's some efficiency.

OP- Amazing trip, would love to hear more, where you went; if you are a US citizen, did you duck out of Schengen Zone or ? Good luck on ticket, if you have a French speaking friend, a phone call would be well worth the hassle. If you could provide some supporting documents, maybe the fine could be frozen at the 30 day late mark or something?

And yes, I can speed a bit on back roads. Always a good thing I haven't had a motorcycle in Europe since 1989.

Posted by
7906 posts

We lived in Germany from 87 until 91 and drove in many European countries. I did get a photo ticket in Germany once and paid it right away, it was a modest amount.

Not sure that I would want to drive in places like Italy after reading the many posts regarding tickets there.
We have rented cars in Great Britain twice in the past 7 years and only had one speeding ticket, going 35 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. It was 40 GBP. In the US, if you are only going 5 MPH over the limits, the police almost never stop you, but with the camera police in Europe, that isn't true. Still, we will likely go back to GB and rent a care once more, but in Italy we will use the trains.

Ignoring a foreign country ticket does involve a risk. It would take some research. In the USA there is a statute of limitations on such tickets. In many states, once you sign the ticket the officer gives you the S/L no longer applies. On previous posts on this website, someone posted saying the in Italy the S/L is five years for traffic tickets.

That is a long time to wait.

Posted by
2916 posts

In the US, if you are only going 5 MPH over the limits, the police almost never stop you,

I'd even remove the "almost" from that.

Posted by
7906 posts

Robert,
In Georgia, only the State Patrol can ticket you for speeding unless you are going more than 10 miles an hour over the limit.
However, we do have a few speed traps that can be avoided.

Posted by
3791 posts

"In the US, if you are only going 5 MPH over the limits, the police almost never stop you,"

"I'd even remove the "almost" from that."

Not true, Let's just say that I have been stopped as has my nephew, brother, husband, sister and others in my family while going five miles (or less) over the speed limit even as other cars whizzed by.

Posted by
10349 posts

Thank you JHK. We do need to be reminded that not everyone is treated equally. It can be at the discretion of the officer. Not everyone gets a pass. At least with radar and speed cameras, everyone is treated equally.

Posted by
3791 posts

Yes, Bets, that’s actually why I like the French system. There is no question of discretion or that other d word that could hiding in plain sight behind discretion. I once I got a speeding ticket in northern Wisconsin and I could not believe it because cars were flying by me and the officer chose to pull me over. I asked him why he stopped me when others were going faster and he said “you’re the one I noticed.” Enough said. I took my ticket and went on my way.

Posted by
2 posts

bdokeefe -- Yes I am a US citizen. We started in the UK, visiting some acquaintances in England then toured/(lived in) Wales and Scotland for almost 4 months, before heading to mainland Europe: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland (briefly), Spain, and Italy. All of those countries are in the Schengen zone, so we had to exit that area after 3 months as you have noted. Just after Christmas we hopped the Adriatic over to Split, Croatia. The Balkan countries (we traveled through Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria) were well worth visiting! As it did for millions (billions?) of people, the pandemic interrupted our plans. We were in Bulgaria in March when all the European countries began locking down their borders -- with one exception: Ireland! So we got on a plane from Sofia to Dublin and self-isolated upon arrival for the required 2 weeks. Over the last 4 months (April-July) of our Odyssey, we enjoyed long Airbnb stays in Ireland and England. Many have asked which country was our favorite. It would be a 5-way tie: Scotland, Ireland, France, Croatia, and Wales. Not coincidentally, those were the countries we spent the most time in.

Posted by
3791 posts

Your trip sounds wonderful even with the changes caused by COVID-19.