Speeding ticket in France

I was in France in July 2012, yesterday I received an envelope from France. At first I couldn't figure out what it was since I don't speak/read French. After closer examination I have determinted it's a speeding ticket. Apparently I was going 138km/hr in a 130km/hr zone! Funny thing is, I was following my Brother-in-law during the whole trip thru France, and he didn't get a ticket. My question is: if I don't pay this ticket (68euro)what are the consequences? Will France continue to send tickets & increase the fine? Will they contact the DMV and cause problems for me the next time I renew my license? Will I have a problem renting a car the next time I'm in Europe? Any and all information is appreciated. Thank you! Linda

Posted by Mark
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
144 posts

I am sure that they will increase the fine. Starting in 2013, all the Schengen countries will be linked, so common traffic violations (including speeding) in one country will be communicated to other European countries. You may have problems entering other Schengen countries.

Posted by David
Sacramento, CA, USA
205 posts

No one here can answer the fee schedule but you can anticiapte a "conviction". Seems like a bogus ticket at 8km over..what 5 mph. And if a local car it probably never would have issued. You must have been caught via some speed/photo trap but they get to nail a tourist. Once convicted the fine will go up..if like th US it can be substantial. They may turn it over to a US collection agency to get you to pay uphope you enjoy those phone calls. Issues with renting a car next time your in Europehow about potential problems just getting into Europe. You may find the door slammed shut in your face at the airport upon arrival. Best option- pay the stupid fine now and stop renting cars in Europe-trains work great!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7684 posts

I don't recall anyone posting here that ever said they were denied entry to the Schengen zone for failing to pay a small speeding ticket, or being hounded by a collection agency, and we get speeding ticket questions frequently. And a European ticket will have no impact on your US license. The amount due, though, will continue to increase, so it's probably best just to pay it and be done.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

It most certainly is not a "bogus" ticket meant to catch a tourist. The French authorities have the right to issue tickets for as little as 1km over the speed limit. My DH has been ticketed for going less than 3 mph over the limit. My advice would be to pay the ticket now, before the fine goes up. No one can accurately predict what trouble you may have in the future. But we can predict that paying the fine will put an end to this.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1509 posts

There are many here who will get quite indignant over the prospect that anyone would ever question anything regarding traffic tickets. According to them, you shut up and you pay them no matter what or you are scum. Failure to do so will result in your being drawn and quartered should you ever dare to set foot in a foreign land again. I'm not in that camp. I believe it's reasonable to use your own best judgement. HOWEVER; three months delay in receiving the ticket is not unreasonable, 68 Euro is not expensive (cheaper than in my own home state) and 138kph is pretty dang fast (86mph). I would never drive that fast in a foreign country no matter what the signs said. Using my own personal judgement, I say you pay it and consider yourself lucky to get off easy. If the circumstances were different (as they often are when this type of question comes up) I might have a different opinion...

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17795 posts

@Nancy, "I don't recall anyone posting here that ever said they were denied entry to the Schengen zone for failing to pay a small speeding ticket, or being hounded by a collection agency" There have been a few posts here from both U.S. and Canadian residents that received tickets from Italy. As is typical, these weren't received until about six months after the offense occurred. They stated that Collection Agencies here "hounded them" until the outstanding amounts were paid. As I recall, in one case the eventual amount to settle was about $500. I haven't seen any examples (yet) of anyone facing problems when entering the E.U. as a result of traffic offenses, but given the constantly improving law enforcement data networks, I suspect that may happen eventually. Border officials in North America are currently able to do background checks (including past criminal offenses) on citizens from the U.S. or Canada, so it's certainly conceivable that this could be extended, perhaps through INTERPOL or another agency. @Linda, Based on the information you've posted, the ticket sounds valid. In the same situation, I'd just pay it and consider it an unexpected cost of my trip. Cheers!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8761 posts

I was following my Brother-in-law during the whole trip thru France, and he didn't get a ticket. Not yet. Interesting observation: In the UK much of what we hear about the US is how religious it is, and how everybody is righteous. I compare that with so many who come on here to explore weaseling out of traffic violations. Intriguing. As for scofflaw Ralph - can you tell me when you are driving so I can take different roads? Clearly if you collect piles of tickets I'd rather be on the road with safer drivers. Sounds like you keep them like medals. What's that expression used by people about the arrogant american? David, can you explain your disgusting comment, please? Over many many years I have met hundreds of French people and have no issues with them.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2395 posts

To the OP - were you in fact speeding? Are you upset that you got caught, or only that you got caught by a camera and not a real police officer? Do you regularly fail to pay all tickets or just ones that you think they can't enforce? We do know that the Italians have started using collection agencies to collect ticket fines, whether the French do or not I don't know. But do let us know if you hear from one.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

"Seems like a bogus ticket at 8km over..what 5 mph. And if a local car it probably never would have issued. You must have been caught via some speed/photo trap but they get to nail a tourist." Maybe you can explain to us how a speed enforcement camera can be programmed to only catch tourists? "My question is: if I don't pay this ticket (68euro)what are the consequences? Will France continue to send tickets & increase the fine?" Yes, they'll increase the fine. Details here: http://tinyurl.com/c4y4be7

Posted by David
Sacramento, CA, USA
205 posts

Nigel--just yanking the French chain...disgusting=ticket for 8km over the PD (Italians too over the games in Italy with rental car facilities right next to restircted driving zones and tickets showing up 3 months later etc and I love Rome and the Italians therein), especially when they know it is an overseas rental. My family tree goes directly back to Lyon France (then to Canada then to US) so I am allowed to pick on the French (its in the blood)....

Posted by Linda
Oakland, CA, USA
3 posts

Thank you all for your input. I have decided to pay the fine (even though I feel it is wrong) just so I don't have any problems when I next visit France. I have also sent a letter with the check letting them know how I feel. Happy travels to all respondants!

Posted by Mark
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
144 posts

You have to be very careful in France. Ex-President Sarkozy a few years ago made it a priority to fight traffic unruliness. It is all automated cameras and there is not much margin. Speedometers in European cars are deliberately calibrated 8-10% over the real speed to give you a safe margin. Most cars in Europe now let you set a maximum speed.
Schengen will exchange traffic violation information starting in 2013. It is not clear yet as far as I know how the information will be used.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

I don't think some heritage gives a person license to make uneducated assumptions based on a few trips. As Dina said, 1 kilometer or 8 kilometers registers the same--tilt. A speed limit of 130 on the autoroute is already quite generous. If the OP were holding a French license, the ticket would count toward an eventual loss of license. I hold a French license.

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1011 posts

Just a peripheral postscript to this discussion. What Mark said about the speedometers being set to show a higher speed than is actually being driven explains a strange experience we had driving around Sicily last May. In many places there were those electronic signs that show you your speed. I noticed that they regularly were showing 10 or more kph slower than my speedometer showed. After it happened several times, I concluded that either the traffic police wanted to encourage people to drive faster by having the signs set incorrectly (unlikely) or the car companies wanted drivers to go more slowly and had the speedometers rigged. Now how long do you think it will have taken those speed-crazed Italian drivers to figure out that one?

Posted by Judy
Adelaide, SA, Australia
802 posts

Gee wiz, I'm migrating to France. I would have to pay a fine of about $300 here in South Australia, plus it would cost me a couple of demerit points on my licence. 12 demerits and you lose your licence. Pay up and look pleasant!

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

Following is the reply I gave on 10/14 on the "to the west" Speeding ticket?? in France question. You might want to check that question for responses, too. One of the replies lists the website for the chart I mention below. We got two speeding tickets in France this summer. I looked at the chart and they must have been minor offences. The charge was 45 Euros each if we accepted that we deserved the fine and paid online within 46 days of the fine notice (or 61 days if we were paying by bank card). The cameras caught us on 6/18/12 and 6/26/12. The date of the fine notices was the same, 9/28/12. Each incident had its own E-payment number which was the same as the number of the fine notice (No d'Avis de Contravention) on the payment card (Carte de Paiement) at the bottom of the fine notice. They had already contacted our car rental agency by 7/30/12. That's when we were charged 25 Euros per infraction for the agency to provide our info to the authorities. I typed the French from the fine notice into Google Translate to be sure I was understanding the French correctly. I went to the website listed on the back of the fine notice to pay with Visa online. My concerns about reading the French there were unfounded because it went straight to English. I noticed there were several other languages possible. I paid the fines the same day we received the fine notices, 10/10/12. The charges have already appeared on my Visa account, so I hope that will be the end of it. I must say, the French are very organized about this and paying the fines was very easy. We knew we were zapped the 1st time, but we didn't realize it the 2nd time. Unless the fine is absolutely outrageous, I doubt that we will ever contest any similar notice in the future. It's not worth it. Like this time, I will add the amount to our transportation costs for the trip.

Posted by Linda
Oakland, CA, USA
3 posts

Again, thank you all for your responses. I am paying the fine. To those of you who were thoughtful and understanding, I appreciate that. To those of you who have that "holier than thou" attitude (like you'vd never made a mistake), you can stick it where the sun don't shine! You know who you are, then again with your attitude, I guess you probably don't know!

Posted by Trishia
Vancouver, Washington, United States
41 posts

Linda, I think you should hit your brother-in-law up to pay half of your ticket:)hehehe Seriously, I think the issue is the economy and governments are doing everything they can to bring in the dollars. Uh, I mean, euros. My landlord got a $400 jay-walking ticket in Las Vegas this summer. For real!

Posted by Nancy
Boston
158 posts

I hope I don't come across as arrogant, but I feel we should do our best to represent our own respective countries when we travel abroad. Play by their rules fair and square. We can think it's not fair all we want, but we have no say in French laws. As a U.S. citizen, I would like people of other nationalities to think well of the people who live here in the U.S.. We sure get enough bad press as it is.
Our speeding laws are very lax, so I don't think we are used to other standards, and I am sure the point is to get fatalities down.

Posted by Mark
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
144 posts

Why do you think it is unfair? In France, they give you a 5% margin on fixed radars on highways. If you were caught at 138km/h, your PV (ticket) should have the following 3 numbers: Vitesse Limitée: 130km/h (speed limit) Vitesse enregistrée à: 138km/h (speed recorded) Vitesse retenue après marge technique: 131km/h (adjusted speed for technical margin of error - Which in this case is 138 minus 5%, the speed used to determine the fine). So you were very close and it is possible that your brother in law was going 1km/h slower at this exact spot. I personally think it is much safer than a CHP swerving across all lanes trying to catch you.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

@trsihia: My landlord got a $400 jay-walking ticket in Las Vegas this summer.
I think they might fine you in Las Vegas for walking period. I spent a lot of time in Las Vegas when my parents lived there, and I stood out as a freak because I walked everywwhere. And I like your attitude Linda.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Ralph, aren't you (like me) employed by the US Govt in Germany? If you're letting "stacks" of tickets go by without paying them, you can get in serious trouble with your command when it's time to register your car. Even if you don't work for the Govt, you're still going to get bit on the behind eventually by not paying, unless you have concrete plans to be out of the country before you need to pay your registration again. In general, I will never understand why some visitors and expats think that the rules of the country they're visiting don't apply to them. I got caught by a traffic camera going a few km over the speed limit too - the camera isn't able to tell that I'm not a German, it just registered the speed and did what it's programmed to do. European speeding fines are generally quite reasonable compared to the U.S.

Posted by Roger
Monein, Pyrenees, France
425 posts

Regarding a possible increase in the fine .... on a normal French speeding ticket it will tell you what the fine is, what the (reduced) amount is if you pay within 14 days, and what the hugely inflated charge is if you do not pay up within (if I remember rightly) one month. On my last ticket - for stupidly doing 117 in a 90 limit - it was a 90 euro fine, and the "inflated" amount was 350 euros. I paid up immediately. You can pay on-line with a card.

Posted by Pete
Whitby, Ontario
101 posts

Here is what happened to my wife. She rented a car in the UK, got caught on a speed trap camera outside Nottingham. A few weeks after she got back to the UK we received a letter in the post from the rental car company with a copy of the speeding ticket plus a letter from the rental company charging us something like 35 pounds for process the fine and sending it on to us . Now here is how I handled it. First of all, my wife is Canadian and has a Canadian Drivers license. I called the phone number on the speeding ticket and got a Constable at the Nottingham Police force. I gave her the ticket details, advised her that my wife was Canadian and driving on a Canadian license. They don't have any agreements with Canada to suspend licenses, impose penalties or anything like that. The Constable recognised this and wiped the ticket from the system. I highly doubt France is going to come and hunt you down in the US for this ticket. Now if you are British I know they have reciprocal agreements with France that will result in someone getting chased for tickets. But I don't believe there is one with the US. What I would do is find someone that speaks fluent French. There must be a number you can call on the ticket and have that person call on your behalf and find out the truth for sure. Don't necessarily take as gospel what you read on this website. Go to the source. Thats what I did and it worked out for me just fine. Now if you were asking me about getting a speeding ticket in Utah last year, well then thats a whole different story lol. In Canada you don't get arrested for non payment of tickets, you just get your license suspended, down in the states you play hardball!!
Pete

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1564 posts

The original poster already agreed to pay the fine. I personally think you handled it wrong. She got a ticket so should have paid the fine. I would not have liked having to do it myself, but if I got a legitimate ticket in another country, I would pay the fine. I don't think saying I am from another country means I don't have to pay a fine. That is just my opinion.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

It sounds like Germany has gotten much more formal than it was in the mid-80s when I worked for the US Army in the Nuremberg area. Back then, there were no stinking tickets. The polizei just waved you over and collected the 40 Marks in cash. You saw, signed or received no paperwork at all. At least that was my experience.

Posted by Tom
Monte Sereno, CA, USA
1 posts

I am in the early stage of this I guess. Traveling in France I faled to notice that the 130KPH(80mph)speed limit which is generous enough s to 110KP(68mph)and noticed a couple of flashes from the bushes as I was driving along and it was raining. Contrary to remarks the flash is connected to a camera which will get you a ticket. Two weeks after getting back to the US I received 2 notices from Hertz Rent Car that they had provided information to French authorities and they charged my credit card 2 x 20$ including VAT $40USD total. Thus far I have not received any ticket but I am assuming(risky as this was in France remember)if Hertz was going to pay and then charge me the ticket amount they would have done so. What I am assuming(caution!)is I will receive the actual tickets from the French authorities later. I am of mixed feelings about paying the fines as I have no oppor-tunity to dispute the tickets which I would normally, successfully, do! If the amount is reasonable I likely will pay it but if not I likely will not as my admittedly self-serving view is I spent about $20,000 in France in a couple weeks and figure they can afford to write off the tickets as cost of business much like I would in my business if a customer broke something at the store! I'll report the final outcome. Surely would like to know what the people who chose NOT to pay the tickets actually experienced rather then the
guesses herein? Speak up people please! Thanks to all, TC

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8761 posts

@Tom First, this post was from October last year and Linda may not want to get all these posts. You could start your own thread so you get the emails not her. Also, regardless of how the speed limit changed - which it does - if you were EVER driving at 130 kph in the rain in France you were speeding and exceeding the speed limit by 20 kph. The law is that on 130 kph roads the speed limit reduces to 110 kph in falling rain. Pay the tickets (no, Hertz won't pay them for you) and try next time not to break the speed limit. And NO! Being a high roller doesn't equal a get-off.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

There are some misconceptions and wrong perceptions about traffic fines in most of continental Europe. To begin with, there is a whole different legal system set up there (for locals and foreigners alike). Traffic fines are usually administrative matters. There are no "traffic courts" or "citation to appear in court" or routine court dispute about a fine, unless the offense is very serious like DUI or gross speeding (thing of going 160 km/h on a 60km/h rural road for instance). Then, you have electronic traffic surveillance. The threshold to challenge those tickets is very high in most countries. You must prove or dispute on a regular lawsuit that the equipment that fined you is broken, or that signaling wasn't obeying the prescription of law. Otherwise, if a speed trap or red cameras catches you, you will have to pay. The solution: get to know and stick to the speed limit ALWAYS, no matter what. Even if most traffic appears to be driving faster around you. Even if you feel the limit is low. Even if a local person/friend tells you to accelerate. A particular tricky area are those "entrance of city perimeter" signs that impose a 50km/h blank limit. ============= Finally, a quick note: I find it preposterous and rather arrogant comments on the line of "I spent $$$$ in country abc, they should be glad for my dollars and stop fining tourists, else I'll not come back to spend more $$$$". It is a snobbish attitude that implies laws don't apply to oneself, only to others. This is like Europeans getting fined for open container laws or jaywalking when visiting Boston or Chicago and then trying to exempt themselves from the fines they get.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3410 posts

I thoroughly agree with Andre's last paragraph. Could there be a more arrogant attitude than "I spent a lot of money there so they should be grateful and not fine me for breaking the law"? Pay the damn ticket.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

QUOTE : I spent about $20,000 in France in a couple weeks and figure they can afford to write off the tickets as cost of business much like I would in my business if a customer broke something at the store! Guess you've never heard of, "If you break it, you bought it." (Just ask me about the bag of broken magnets I bought once...) You broke the law, you pay the fine.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

Tom refer back to my post on this topic from 10/18/12. When you get the ticket, go to the website which will be in English and pay it with your VISA. Just count it as a cost of traveling too fast. My husband has a heavy foot and in March we paid a ticket for Switzerland that had taken over 18 months to get to us. In that case the only way to pay it was by funds transfer from our credit union to the authorities' account. It cost more for the transfer than the actual cost of the fine. Paying the French fine with a credit card at an English website is a breeze compared to that.