Milan traffic notices - need some advice please

I know this has been discussed in the forum before but I have a strong sense that I didn't drive in a manner in which was illegal in Milan. I was only in Milan to return my car (I was driving from the Cinque Terre) and was in the city for a brief time as I was coming in on the A7. My GPS pointed me in the most direct route into town to return the car at Europcar on via Gaetano Giardino which is very close to the Duomo (maybe 1-2 blocks). Yet in the span of 19 minutes I apparently violating the traffic laws two times. One for "Entering the limited traffic area named "Area C" without paying the fee" and one for "Circulated on the bus lane despite the prohibiting traffic signs at the beginning of the bus lane". So, I receive two notices from Nivi Credit S.r.l. on behalf of the Comune di Milano Polizia Locale, however these "notice of payment" letters were not sent certified, the alleged addresses where the infringements occurred are not roads I drove on and finally the notice suggests that this isn't a notification of violation (but it "allows the recipient to make the due payment in amicable circumstances"). I don't want to imply that this is a scam, but I don't feel this is legit. I don't intend to return to Italy in the foreseeable future but I also don't want to spend hours of time explaining myself to someone who doesn't care and I don't want to shell out 215 Euros either. Anyone else had a similar experience? If so, did you pay? Did you protest? what happened? I appreciate any advice from the community. Thanks, Jason

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

As you posted this is discussed all the time. You get two responses - pay it and view it as a cost of the trip. Or ignore and see what happens. There has been some recent reports that these unpaid fine are being turned over to local collection agencies. That can get messy. No reports of the collection agency going to court for a judgement but they can still ding your credit report. So monitor your credit reports. About the only defense you might have is the timing of the violations. Do they match the times you were driving. If not, then it might be possible that next renter of the car or a maintenance person may have driven it. How much money are we talking about if it isn't a fine?

Posted by Jason
Austin, TX, USA
49 posts

Frank, I think the answer to your question is 215 Euros. Not an insignificant amount of money and I wouldn't normally just turn over the money "because you tell me I owe it" if you know what I mean. My bog issue is the fact that I wasn't on the particular roads mentioned in the letter and this notice isn't a "notification of violation". Of course, if it isn't this, I don't know what it is. Maybe they send this letter assuming that a percentage of people will just pay the fine and be done with it? What happens next if you don't respond within 20 days and pay? Of course I don't have the paperwork from returning the car. So, I don't have a definitive time stamp for this but the time of day is close to when I was returning the car. I had thought it was possible that the auto rental company drove the car to another location (there is no storage where I returned it), but I don't know. Bottom line is that the evidence they cite is flimsy at best. Again, I would be happy to pay for a violation if I truly broke the law, but I don't think that is the case here. Of course, in order to get to the bottom of this, I'm not willing to invest tons of hours, phone calls, etc. to Italy. the whole time is money argument...

Posted by donna
cranberry twp, PA, United States
2405 posts

IF you followed the GPS and it took you on the most direct route to return the car then you probably did violate the ZTL. GPS are not set up to notify you of these zones, nor are they set up to avoid them. They just tell you how to get from spot A to spot B. Driving in a bus lane is very easy to do. Unless you see the signs at the beginning of the lane you may not know you're in one. Both of these are legitimate charges and your notification is probably from the rental company. Don't be surprised when the official tickets get there along with notification from the rental company that they have charged your card for administrative fees related to these fines. Donna

Posted by George
Canada
834 posts

Jason, you won't get much expert advice here BUT, if you really want to double down, hire a Milan based lawyer to get to the bottom of it all.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

This is the standard between a rock and a hard spot. Is there an American consulate in Milan that might be able to assist. At least they might speak English. There is no correct answers.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3351 posts

There is a US Consulate in Milan, but I doubt they will be able to help much. This is the website: http://milan.usconsulate.gov/ Normally there are two ways to appeal these types of administrative fines. One is with a Recourse (Ricorso) to the Prefect (of the Province of Milan in this case), and the other method is with a Ricorso to a Peace Judge (Giudice di Pace). In the first case (prefect) one has to file the recourse within 60 days from the notification, in the second case (Peace Judge) within 30 days. I doubt that you could file a recourse since you are not in Italy. Generally the most common reasons for successfully winning a recourse are: - Place, day and time of infraction is missing in the notification - Specific description of the law violated was not specified in the notification - The traffic violation was notified beyond 90 days after the violation occurred - Personal data (address, names etc.) is incorrect - The vehicle was in a different location at the time of the infraction
- Other reasons, such as the absence of proper visible road signs Also, in a recent case in Southern Italy a Peace Judge ruled that an infraction could not be notified via mail by a private party (such as an agency or private collector). So there. If you don't pay the only risk is an adverse effect on your credit scoring if the agency reports it to a Credit Bureau. However if you think that any of the above applies, you have good reason to dispute the charge and request the credit bureau to remove the adverse credit score.

Posted by Jason
Austin, TX, USA
49 posts

Thank you all for the replies. Roberto, you brought up a good point. I received the letters in the mail yesterday and the infractions allegedly occurred back on Oct 24, 2012 (the postmark was six months to the date after the offense). You indicated that if "The traffic violation was notified beyond 90 days after the violation occurred" it could be a basis for recourse. Not being in Italy anymore may be a moot point to filing a recourse though. I won't allow my credit to be ruined or disparaged because of this but if I do end up paying over 200 Euros for this it will unfortunately dampen my enthusiasm for a return to Italy. There are many other places in Europe I would be happy to visit either again or for the first time I guess. What a shame that they need to do this to help with their anemic economy and financial woes.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

In the photo they provided, or will provide, was it a different person than you? I second the statement that GPS takes no notice of ZTLs or bus lanes. The cameras do not distinguish between cars driven by locals, other Italians, or tourists.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

Salve Roberto, You quoted, The traffic violation was notified beyond 90 days after the violation occurred. Do you have any idea or experience, maybe in Firenze, if that notification is the first one when the owner (rental car office) of the car is notified or is when the driver whose details have been furnished is notified?

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

Area C is not a traditional ZTL, but a congestion charge limited traffic zone. It means you can pay by credit card (or other means) to access it up to a period after you entered it. It costs 5 Euro do drive there per day. The area C is delimited by the 2nd urban street ring (called the "cerchia dei bastioni") Read in English about Area C here: https://www.comune.milano.it/portale/wps/portal/CDM?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/wps/wcm/connect/contentlibrary/Elenco+Siti+tematici/Elenco+Siti+tematici/Area+C/English/ The rental agency should have told you about that.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

There are those who believe that Hertz, Avis, et. al., make more money from the "administrative fees" they charge you (for turning your identifying information over to the cops) than they do from renting cars. Judging by the number of Helpline posts on this topic, they might be right. Here's a Swiss citizens' perspective on the whole issue: http://antinivi.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/italian-traffic-fines/ Whether you pay or not is of course up to you, but I don't think you have much chance of success protesting the violations. Your violations were recorded by an automated camera with time & date stamp. It's easy for the rental agency to match that up with their records. How do you argue against that?