questionable trafffic ticket from Arezzo

I received a ticket from the Polizia Municpale (Commune di Arezzo) by European Municipality Outsourcing via unregistered mail for the following infraction: ART.7 C 1/14A - The vehicle crossed a limited hours area outside of authorized hours. They give the time and date which coincide with when I was in Arezzo. I never received any notification before this notice, such as ticket on the window, etc. To me this ticket appears fraudulent, is there any way to find out if it is valid. It appears to be like some of the tickets other travelers have received on this helpline that are fraudulent. It also appears that Avis forwarded my name, but so far no sign they have my credit card or have charged to it. Any ideas on this would be appreciated. Thanks

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

European Municipality Outsourcing is a private Italian firm, a subsidiary of a credit firm, that handles tickets for police in almost every province in Italy...those tickets issued to people from outside the local province. See their website at http://www.emo.nivi.it. That's why Avis forwarded your name....they probably got the original infraction notice from the police. Sounds like you were caught on a traffic camera entering one of the residents-only restricted area in central Arezzo, something becoming more and more common in Italian cities.

Posted by Harlan
marysville, wa
8 posts

Norm,
I can accept that an infraction may have taken place, but the way it was sent in the mail leaves me suspicious. The letter mentions that I am required to respond within 20 days of receiving it in the mail, but the letter is standard mail, with no certification, registered mail, return receipt of delivery to sender etc. If this is a legal document, dont they have to have proof that I received it. This raises the question what if the mail did lose it and I never received it?

thanks for the reply

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

Check their website....They probably figure it's not worth the expense to send if off by registered mail.

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

Harlan...you may also want to e-mail a question to the nearest Italian consulate to check on the company's bona fides.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6724 posts

This isn't the first time, this type of ticket has been discussed on this site. I believe that Arezzo is one of many towns that have restrictions on where you can park and at what times. They don't ticket you, they take a picture of the license plate. It then takes time for them to track you down. Florence also does this. If you had a rental car in Arezzo at that time, this may be legitimate.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Harlan, it sounds like the Italian (& other Europeans) are using a "clearing house" (Municipality Outsourcing) to process tickets for out-of-country visitors.

I suspect the ticket is valid, especially as it coincides with the time you were in that jurisdiction. However, perhaps they're deliberately targeting people who might not be familiar with the language, parking signs and local regulations (ie:tourists)?

All car rental agreements include a clause stating that the renter agrees to pay any traffic fines or related charges. By signing the rental contract you are agreeing to these charges being added to your credit card if necessary.

Whether there would be any repercussions in not paying the ticket, I'm not sure? Although I've rented cars in the UK & France, this is one reason I prefer to use rail or coach whenever possible!

Good luck!

Posted by Harlan
marysville, wa
8 posts

Ken,
Thanks for the reply.
Yes, it appears I'll have to pay, especially if I go back to Italy or any other country that could potentially keep track of this infraction. With modern computer and database systems this type of thing could be tracked indefinitely.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Harlan, I have to wonder if this isn't a bit of a "trap" to take advantage of tourists, who won't be too familiar with the local parking regulations, etc. (especially given the language difference)?

In any case, since the ticket coincided with the time you were in Arezzo, I suspect it's legitimate. As you mentioned, with modern computer technology they might keep track of these and eventually be able to target repeat visitors. Given the ease with which I can use my North American ATM and credit cards in Europe, perhaps this will be happening soon?

I had a similar experience in Italy, although not with a car. I purchased a train reservation (can't remember which, but might have been Venice to Florence?). I'm sure I boarded the correct train, but apparently the travel agency sold me the wrong reservation for that train. When the Inspector checked, he apologetically said it was incorrect and nicked me with a fine on the spot! One of those interesting experiences I won't forget!

Posted by Harlan
marysville, wa
8 posts

It maybe a setup, although legal, I showed it to some coworkers that hail from Italy and they confirmed this has happened to them, but because they were there at the time, they knew what to do to get it reduced. Unless I travel back to Italy, I assume not much can be done from this end. Funny you should mention trains, we traveled approx. 5 times on Trenitalia with purchased and validated tickets. The conductor collected them on only one of the trips. I guess the same could apply to my infraction. They have the technology to go after me, but may simply not use it .

Posted by marcel
neupre, belgium
1 posts

well i got a 92 EUR 25 for the same thing; being in arezzo on aug 01, - yes i was there at that time,noon, entering apparently a restricted area, looking for a parking (next to the post office); somebody told me to get out; i did; I barely stayed more than Five minues in that restricted area !

did you pay your fine?

thanks for any comment `
marcel

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Harlan,

Rick had a warning about this in one of his travel bulletins. Apparently the enforcement in the "restricted zones" is getting much more stringent.

I'd have to do some checking to find the bulletin again. It's current information, so shouldn't be hard to find.

Good luck!

Posted by steve
gaston, oregon, usa
842 posts

If it DID NOT ARRIVE CERTIFIED OR REGISTERED, toss it! ( I would frame it, or put it in my trip scrapbook.)

Italy does the same thing that we do........if there was no proof that you were served, there can be no fine/charge that can be supported.

No one will throw you in jail the next time you go back!

(If you had used Hertz they would bill you for your "notice"...that is why we don't use them.)

Posted by Harlan
marysville, wa
8 posts

Toscoman and Steve,
Thanks for the added responses. Since there is a chance I may have to travel to Italy on Business, jeopordizing future readmittance into Italy with regards to this situation does not seem wise. Yes, I think the use of traffic cameras en mass to ticket drivers and especially unsuspecting tourists is underhanded when local municipalities receive a large amount of revenue from the transactions they make. Fining an errant driver should be meant to correct the errant behavior. Simply sending out an infraction months later does nothing to ensure the laws are being followed during the visit. As a guest in another country I would want to know in a timely manner that I had done something wrong. Late delvered fines do nothing but pad the local township coffers, I already helped out the local townships financially as a tourist.

Posted by David
Portland, OR, USA
805 posts

We just recieved a similar ticket supposedly from Florence. However, given that it arrived in what can ordinarily be considered a bulk mail envelope (not registered or marked in any way) and that we were in Florence six months ago yet just received the ticket, we are likely to ignore it. Use common sense, if it smells weird, ask someone or ignore it.

Posted by lynn
vernon, b.c., Canada
1 posts

I received a ticket for the same infraction in Arezzo when there last April. I am going to pay it but can't find out where to do it on the website. All I can link to at www.emo.nivi.it are all the comments from people in the same situation. I tried e- mailing the company but as yet have no reply. Did anyone else have the same problem?

Lynn
Vernon B.C. 01/30/08

Posted by SamSn
Scottsdale, AZ, USA
1092 posts

No one likes receiving a ticket. The cameras have no idea who are tourists and this isn't something that is targeting tourists. If you are going to drive in a foreign country it is your responsibility to know the rules and follow the signs.

Posted by john
Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
1 posts

Has anyone Had any luck with challenging these supposed fines? Just recieved 2 at 92 Euro's Each for Article 7C 9e 14 and 7c1ae14 what ever that means.

Posted by Paul
Halifax, NS, Canada
1 posts

I recieved an the original in Dec/07 and ignored it, they have now sent a second copy by registered mail. I was in Florence and my Hotel was in the restricted area so i thought it was ok to drop car off at Hotel.

There is a dispute form you can send by registered mail but i think i will just pay the $95.90 euro's.

Posted by charlie
denver
1 posts

I recieved two of these tickets just today from my travel in florence last summer. I saw no indication I was driving where I should not be driving at the time. at 92 euro each this is only the latest insult months after returning from there. Last winter it was an automated toll booth which malfunctioned and sent me a $50 fine. I cancelled my credit card used with the rental agency and I don't plan to go back to italy. I will never pay this scam fine. I'm finished with that country. They have too many tourists anyway apparently and there is a whole world -not to mention the western U.S. - to explore.

Posted by liz
Vero Beach
1 posts

Hey Harlan and all- help, I am in the same fix suddenly.Recived said notice from emo.it Noticed a new charge from Hertz on my credit card AND WONDERED WHAT IT WAS. Now it see from these notes that is it a service charge from Hertz . In addition Arezzo is trying to collect 103 euros; that is a lot of usd money for a violation I didnt notice I was making. Called Hertz and they offered no assistance. It is nine months after I was there.
did you find an agency that would help you reach resolution?

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2381 posts

Hertz charging you a fee to process the ticket, basically having to answer the police notification and provide personal data in order to send you the ticket, fits with information I have heard. What did they charge you? I have heard anything from 14 Euro to 40 Euro to provide the info. I suppose if you stayed overnight within the zone (in town) you could get a letter from the hotel stating such and try and send that, implying that a mistake has been made, they just are not seeing the original notification...but EMO appears to be only the collection agency, not a court of appleals.

Posted by mary
Raleigh, NC
1 posts

I too just recieved notice of an infraction in Arezzo for crossing into a traffic area outside of authorized hours and they want 103 euros for the fine within 20 days.
I called the number on the letter and the man said you can appeal only if you were returning a rental car or were staying in a local hotel. I was lost and trying to get turned around.
Any new ideas of what course to take???

Posted by Claire
bergamo
401 posts

I think by now we all realize that if you drive in a restricted zone you will get a ticket. It has nothing to do with being a tourist, it has to do with trying to get people NOT to drive into historic areas that need to be protected and are also probably filled with people.
Mary--you were driving in an area where you were not permitted to drive and no doubt you didn't see the signs. It is a risk you take when you decide to drive in a foreign country. Italians get these tickets too, just like you get a ticket for commiting a traffic violation in the US. Therefore, do as I would do if I got a traffic ticket in your town---pay up.

Posted by Glenda
Sydney, N.S.W, Australia
2 posts

After investigation, 2007. I believe the majority of these fines are fake. Go to the correct site for paying Italian fines which was given to us by Avis Rental Cars Australia. https://ztl.come.fi.it/tzv/Login.jsp put in your fine number and see whether it is rejected or not.

The Australian Police advised us not to pay, they recorded the fine as a suspected fraud and said, that even if it was a real fine, the fact that it was recorded as a suspected fraud, the Italian Police would not be able to take action. The Australian Police also, stated: The warnings are there; you never pay into an overseas bank account that is unknown to you.

Scanning our fine,sending to Italian Police they told us not to pay, untill we received a valid fine number, when putting the fine number into https://ztl.come.fi.it/tzv/Login.jsp the number came up as invalid. Avis Australia also, said, don't pay, and sent a copy of what the fine should look like, it looked very different. Contact your car company.

Posted by Richard
Castellina, FI, Italy
15 posts

The Australian Police are a bunch of dorks - that's been known for a long time. They can invalidate a fine issued from Italy - amazing. If the notice comes from a Comune or from EMO, it's real. How could a scammer know where you were driving months ago in Italy and then find your address to send you a letter? The correct URL for tickets due for infractions IN FLORENCE is https://ztl.comune.fi.it/tzv/Login.jsp ZTL refers to the limited traffic zone of Florence, 'comune fi' is the municipality of Florence. Obviously you won't be able to view photos of yourself breaking the law in Arezzo using the Florence web site. Refer to http://www.bella-toscana.com/traffic_violations_italy.htm for some idea of how all this works. The first letter will be unregistered and if you pay or dispute that, it costs a lot less than when the registered letter arrives.

Posted by Chris
Cincinnati, OH, USA
1 posts

For those that criticize people who question whether some of these cameras might target tourist you've missed an important fact contained in many of these posts - some are staying in hotels that are in restricted zones. As such they are permitted access to the hotels as "residents".

It appears that the authorities spend no time investigating whether or not someone with a legal right to proceed has been photographed. They merely compare a license plate to a list of residents and send out a citation.

For those that say do what you would in the States and pay, I say find me a a similarly shoddy legal process in the states and I'll comply.

Posted by Claire
bergamo
401 posts

You want to talk about shoddy legal processes in the US, Chris?
Seeing at this is a travel board and not a forum to discuss the our government's policies, I won't. But the point is (and this has already been hammered into the ground by many people posting above me) that we aren't talking about tickets in the US, we are talking about Italy, and believe me, the centers of these cities have every reason for trying to keep traffic out. If you do decide to rent a car in Italy and stay in the center of a major city it is your responsibility to find out what the rules and regulations are, just as I am expected to observe the rule and regulations when I drive in the US. Otherwise don't drive.

Posted by Debby
Lawton, OK, USA
60 posts

Seems that this is an excellent example to support NOT driving in Italy.

Posted by mike
boulder, colorado
192 posts

If you are staying in a hotel in the restricted area, the hotel lists your vehicle so it will not be ticketed. If you are going to be driving in a foreign country, learn the rules. If you cannot read a street sign do not get behind the wheel of an automobile. There is nothing questionable about this ticket. The only thing questionable is your driving.

Posted by Neil
Lake Forest Park, WA, USA
364 posts

Mike from Boulder, your instructive comments are valid, grumpy tone notwithstanding. However, I should point out a subtle yet significant clarification: the hotel lists your vehicle, unless they don't. In other words, it is the driver's responsibility to make absolutely sure your vehicle is registered with the hotel, and then make sure again. It's not just rarely that this little paperwork function doesn't happen in which case it's impossible to fight a ticket should one be assessed. The hotel can't be expected to know if you arrived by rented car, taxi, or donkey. It's up to the guest to make sure they account properly for the rental car.

Posted by mike
boulder, colorado
192 posts

I agree with Neil. But too many people think everything in Europe that they don't like is some kind of a scam. We have cameras here in Boulder recording people speeding and going thru red lights and if you violate the law the ticket appears about a month later. And, yes, it is the drivers responsibility to make sure that the hotel registers you vehicle with the autorities. Signed - Grumpy

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

Chad sounds like the type of expert you need. Tells you what you want to hear. On this page there are three threads running on the same subject. It is not a fraud, Chad but since you don't have a dog in the fight you can say anything you want with no consequences.

Posted by Bruce
San Francisco, CA, USA
1 posts

We also got a ticket in Florence -"Moved around a restricted traffic area without authorization". I checked on the EMO website and it states:

Guests of incoming structures may enter the ZTL with their cars only and exclusively on the day of their arrival and/or departure for unloading/loading their luggage. At the time of check-in and/or check-out, the hotel must register the licence plates of the vehicle with the Municipal Police. If this registration was not made and you have received a fine for accessing the ZTL, contact the hotel management and request a declaration confirming the dates you stayed in the hotel and the reason of the failure to register the licence plates at the time of arrival and/or departure.

We contacted Hotel Botticelli and they promptly provided the necessary declaration to clear the ticket.

Posted by Linda
Petaluma, Northern California
345 posts

I don't Rick does enough to emphatically warn people about the risks of driving in Italy, and about the surprises you will find in your mailbox over the coming year. Your ticket is probably valid and eventually will be charged to your credit card-- even if you close your account. Furthermore, it's not a tourist tax-- locals get these tickets too.

Even if you were approved to drive into a restricted traffic zone to drop off bags at your hotel, you can still get a ticket for driving down the wrong street at the wrong time or turning the wrong way. Not to be unkind, but this is the chance you take when you choose to drive in a congested area instead of taking a cab.

Posted by Neil
Lake Forest Park, WA, USA
364 posts

Linda, I believe the fine cannot be charged to your credit card. This is a fear by many, and it's true that car rental agencies have been charging a fee for the privilege of supplying information to the police. This charge has been misinterpreted by some as the payment of the actual fine which it is not. I have not yet seen a report by anyone who has stated with certainty that their rental car agency paid the fine for them and charged their credit card, canceled or not. I'm not saying it hasn't happened, just that I haven't seen anyone state this and I believe most if not all car rental agreements do not allow this to happen. I suppose that the Italian authorities would not keep sending a series of dunning letters if it was a simple matter of turning to the car rental agencies to charge past customers for the fine amounts.

The suspicion that overseas charges of any kind, even legitimate purchases, are greeted by my credit card issuer leads me to believe that it would be quite surprising for them to pay a charge from Italy on a credit card one has canceled a year and a half ago or more. Quite surprising indeed.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Well, Rick does include about 4 pages in his Italy guide book to educate drivers. That includes pictures and explanations of the most common signs, warnings about the ZTL and tips for parking.

With a lot of experience driving in Europe before coming to Italy those signs are nothing new to us. Italy is indeed not the best place to get your very first European driving experience under your belt, not because of the ZTLs but because of the crazy amount of traffic in very narrow roads. The limited traffic zone is only an extension of that and no big deal as the "all vehicles prohibited" round sign with the red rim is always visible. I might not understand the writing when I'm just driving by but that red rimmed circle is more than enough warning to stay away. The only thing we really needed AND used were the parking tips Rick gave. And they worked beautifully!

Posted by Matthew
Courtenay, BC, Canada
1 posts

I just received my second notice from EMO I went on the site and it all looks very official they have a picture of my car, a copy of my rental agreement and the original ticket. So I am confident that it is legal but 119 Euros for driving through the wrong area of Arezzo at the wrong time is very steep. Has any one just not paid the ticket? If so have there been any consequences ?

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
981 posts

I don't know about Canandian law, but under US law, if you charge something to a credit card or agree that a charge can be placed on the credit card, you'll eventually have to pay. If you close your account, especially if the timing is close to when you were notified of the ticket charge, you could be prosecuted for credit card fraud. It's the same as if you'd written a check, then closed your account before it cleared. Closing an account when you know or ought to know that there's a charge on it is considered pretty good evidence of intent to defraud on the part of the account holder.

When I was in law practice, I had a client once who did just that--wrote a check, assumed it had cleared, and closed her account and moved cross-country. Unfortunately, it hadn't cleared yet and bounced. Because she moved, she didn't get the notification of the bounced check and the local court in Virginia issued a warrant. One day in Seattle she made an illegal U turn, got stopped, they found the warrant and it was off to jail with her, where she sat for several days till we could get it all cleared up. Not fun for her.

It's true that an Italian warrant won't show up in a US (or probably Canadian) warrant check if you ever get stopped by the police in a traffic matter. But if the credit card company wants to play hardball--particularly if they end up on the hook for your traffic ticket--you may have committed a crime here in North America.

Bottom line--decide for yourself how much it would inconvenience you if a warrant ever issued and you got arrested.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

For Pete's Sake, Matthew, pay the damn ticket. You know it's legitimate and it's just one of those unexpected costs of travel that we all have to deal with. We got dinged 80 euro in Sicily 2 years ago for parking overnight on the street in Siracusa. We paid at the Post Office there and our B&B host was so sympathetic that he reduced our payment to him by 20 euro, so you see, honesty is rewarded, though sometimes with only a clear conscience.

Posted by Neil
Lake Forest Park, WA, USA
364 posts

Matthew, I haven't paid my tickets and so far no repercussions.

JER, I note that Matthew is not trying to stiff his credit card company, he is simply trying to find out what happens if he chooses to be cautious and not provide his credit card number to a skeevy-looking foreign website. Seeing as how legitimate-appearing many scam sites are, this concern is not something to be condemned. Now, if his credit card company informed him they've paid a fine in his behalf and wish for him to pay them for this service, that is an entirely different circumstance.

Also, I submit that if a fine appears on your car window and you have the ability to pay it right away at a post office or whatever, that seems ok. Let's not miss the point of Matthew's post or the original post that started this thread which is that we're talking about infraction notices that appear a year or more after the occurrence.

I have seen zero evidence, and I mean zero, that a person's credit card company paid one of these fines and then charged it to the credit card or attempted a collection due to the card being previously canceled. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, or that credit card agreements don't allow it, just that I haven't heard one person say it occurred.

Posted by Mike
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1447 posts

FYI, saw this in a car discussion forum I read occasionally:

"One of my colleagues at work received a couple of speeding tickets (as well as a few parking tickets) in The Netherlands last year. He ignored all of them, thinking that the Dutch authorities could not enforce them. But when he visited The Netherlands earlier this year, the authorities got him. They allowed him to enter the country, but on his way out of the country, he was detained at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Airport security was called and they took him away to an office at the airport where he was confronted with the unpaid tickets and told that he would not be allowed to leave the country unless he paid up. He was terribly embarrassed and scared and immediately paid the original tickets and the fines. Only then was he allowed to leave the country. Needless to say he was shaken by the experience and has now vowed to always pay any speeding/parking tickets he gets when driving in Europe."

Posted by Ross
Sebastopol
1 posts

Six months after we returned from Italy, we received SIX of these letters from our (formerly) wonderful stay in Firenze.
In our travels in Italy we had seen many scams going on at ATM's etc, pickpocketing etc.
Someone mentioned these letters have to be real; they look so genuine and how could they know your name and address from a license plate.
Have you heard of the mafia?
I have no way to know these letters are not a mafia scam, none.
This week, I got a second series of letters, four, and I expect a couple more on Monday. They are all unregistered and for Euro 92.45.
We stayed in a Hostel, not a "hotel", so it will be difficult to get verification.
We had no intention of entering the medieval city, except the car return was there, but you take one wrong turn and you are screwed royally.
We renteed the car, left for Chianti immediately, then came back to return the car, then stay in Florence.
We could only escape il Centro via the one-way labyrinth of narrow streets, each one apparently snapping our 100 Euro Kodak moment.
I think one ticket would have been appropriate, for entering the zone, not six, one per Via!
I fully understand the need to keep cars out of centros; just block the streets!

Lessons learned:
Don't drive in Italian cities, or rent a car outside city center, even if it means a taxi ride.
Maybe don't GO to italian cities.

Would have been helpful if the car rental companies educated their customers, though I expect they profit from this practice is some way.

We don'plan to pay for now. E 600, forget it! We'll spend our dollars in another country.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
6808 posts

Ross: Sorry for your bad experience. And you're right, $850 in fines is a good argument for not driving a rental car into the historic center of Florence (and several other Italian cities I could mention). As you noticed in perusing this old topic thread, many car renters in Italy have learned this lesson the hard way. Some of us don't rent cars in Italy anymore, unless trains don't go there.

Posted by Don
Bainbridge Island, WA
1 posts

It wasn't fraudulent. We had the same thing happen in March, 2008 -- received notice of the violation in July 2009. And in fact we had driven through a restricted zone on the way to our hotel. When we contacted the hotel owner, he contacted the local police and was able to convince them to remove the fine. We just received written confirmation from "EMO" to that effect.

Posted by leonard
boston
1 posts

just received notification in the mail on 12/02/09 for " moving around in a restricted area" in Florence on 9/26/07. By my calculations that would be 27 months after the " supposed " infraction. Drove from the car rental i Florence
to Siena, and returned the car to the agency in Florence.
The EMO web site states they have 1 year to serve you with a notice, any value to the statute of limitations ?

Posted by bruce
fallbrook
1 posts

Hi:
Got two tickets in Milan while trying to return my rental car in a historic area in May 2008 and in December 2009 got a notice that the rental car was photographed and they wanted $102 Euro per violation. Tallked to a Italian Policman and he said that as a non-citizen I must be notified within one year. I'm not trying to stiff them I just want to know if this is correct. The car rental company and the local won't respond to my inquries. I have been told that if you don't pay they will simply bill my credit card company. Anybody have any ideas?

Bruce

Posted by Anne
New York
1 posts

Received FOUR notices from our trip last July. All four were in Firenze. Not only does Europcar want a piece of the action at $40 a pop, the violations are $106 each. We're looking at $1000 US for circulating in a limited traffic area without authorization. We looked at signs, which was no easy feat while driving with lunatics on every side. There were no signs on any of the streets we parked on that indicated we were in a restricted area. If the authorities had left a summons on the windshield when the first incident occurred, instead of trying to gouge visitors, we could have taken care of the situation while we were still there. I never want to go back to Italy.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
6808 posts

Anne: Sorry to hear that you've received multiple fines of $1000 for driving a rental car in Florence. Florence is one of the few big cities that combines automatic camera enforcement with issuing multiple violations for the same car.

Unfortunately, many travelers have reported getting these huge multiple fines for driving into the Florence historic center. In addition to your $1000 in fines, in the last year we've had reports of multiple violations adding up to $1,200 and $850.

This is a relatively small travel forum, but we're trying to get the word out to people who consult us before their trip.

Posted by Diederik
Utrecht, Netherlands
1 posts

Hello,

start of July 2009 I took my in-laws to a weekend in Florence. As in trying to make it as much relaxing as possible I rented a car to drive us around and to visit places. Arriving in Florence the problems started. I was dark already, and the car didn’t have any gps-system, so we were driving around for some time trying to find the hotel. In the end we actually did find it and the people of the hotel we kind enough to let us know they had a spot in front of the hotel, which was reserved for them only and that we could use to leave the car during the night. They also told us that on Sundays parking wasn’t paid. As we were leaving on a Tuesday and they said they needed the parking spot for deliveries and possible other tourists we dropped the car off in a paid parking lot during the last night of our stay. A few months after having turned in the car with the car rental company, I noticed they had charged me an extra 192€ for speeding, which I honestly couldn’t remember whether it was right or not, so I didn’t complain. It WAS possible. Now March 22nd and 23rd of 2010 I received FOUR letters with each a different case number stating I violated Italian road laws and have to pay 105.85€ each! It comes from this emo.nivi.it thing, is nicely written in Dutch, though with some small errors, it states that if I call this and that number I will be answered in English, Dutch, French and German and that I have to pay within 20 days! Not even once did I find a notice on the windshield cleaners to let me know I was violating while parking. My father in law does around 50000km on the road per year, I average around 60000km per year and I really don’t remember having ignored any road signs, nor did my father in law. That nice little weekend last year is going to cost me this year’s holliday. Any suggestions on what I should do?

Kind regards,
Diederik
ps: I’m a Belgian, my wife’s Portuguese and we live in Holland.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
6808 posts

Hi Diederik: We are sorry to hear about the big fines (€600 = ~$830) you have received in Florence. This website click here is the best we have found for advice on what you can do to respond to the notices of violation you have received.

Note that the advice given is different, depending on whether you are a resident of the EU (as you are) or not.

Good luck on this.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2381 posts

For what it is worth, for the record:

Any charge you get from the rental car agency (at least initially) is a fee for providing the authorities with your contact information. This varies, but the figure of 40 Euro seems to come up often. This is noted in the terms and conditions of the rental that you sign.

If you are staying or returning a car in a restricted area (by now, any time you make a reservation it is worth asking) you absolutely need to make the effort to prompt the hotel or agency to register your vehicle with the police.

If you do get notice, and were legally in the area due to staying in the hotel, then contact the hotel. They may be able to intervene and address the ticket. (Remember though, it is Italy, Bureaucracy frustrates even the locals)

Otherwise, the jury is still out on non-EU citizens fighting or ignoring the tickets; with evidence that EU citizens have more rights (statute of limitations or appeal) but less ability to ignore any final judgement.

Aside from that, this may be the oldest post I have responded to. Certainly due to the ability of someone to perform a search either in Google or the site (OK, in Google)

Posted by Phyl
Rossland, B.C., canada
1 posts

My husband and I were in Tuscany 2007 and rented a car. Today, 3 years later, we recieved a notice that we had driven through a restricted area . The fine is 116.09 Euros--I can not even remember what dates exactly we were there. I have since thrown away any rental car reciepts , as I waited for 2 years to go by,knowing people were having problems. This is very upsetting and because of this we will never return. It came as an unregistered letteralso and we do not know what to do about this . I remember we had to be back by 10 am and there were no fines from the rental car company. The ticket is for 10:05 and I can not prove anything.This is a pretty sad way of treating tourists.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6724 posts

Chris, you are correct about being able to enter the ZTLs if the hotel is located within. However, it is the responsibility of the hotel management to notify the local police and give them your license number. On top of that, you should request evidence from the hotel of this communication with the police department in case you get a ticket anyway.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2391 posts

While I have no idea what the ramifications are for not paying the fines, it is HIGHLY unlikely that these tickets are scams. Italy, like much of Europe, mostly uses cameras to record traffic violations. That means you never see a cop or a paper ticket on the windshield, just a notice in the mail later. Most Italian towns/cities have strict restrictions on who, when and where you can drive. If you choose to drive in Italy you either need to take heavy precautions or face gettting tickets. These are legitimate restrictions to prevent absolute gridlock in towns never built for cars.

Now it is possibe that those staying in hotels could be erroneously ticketed. But you have to register your plate number with the hotel who then has to inform the local authorities. Mistakes can be made at every level from you to the hotel to the police. Unfortunately, there may not be a lot of options for foreigners to challenge a ticketing error. And getting lost is your mistake, not the police's.

Harlan - there's nothing wrong with checking to be sure your ticket wasn't a scam and most of my response is targeted for others in this thread. Some of the responses have been highly irresponsible and erroneous.

Posted by Harlan
marysville, wa
8 posts

Douglass,
I started this thread over 2 1/2 yrs ago based on a ticket from before that. Had no idea how prevalent this type of infraction is in Italy. While I agree that drivers better beware in Italy with all the restrictions, at some point a statute of limitations has to exist for these tickets being sent. I can see being held liable for an infraction up to a year after it was committed, but 3 years is out of line. As I mentioned before in this thread the whole point of being sighted for a driving infraction should be to change behavior, after 3 years a traffic infraction becomes a revenue producer and not much else. As a reverse view, I wonder how a foreign visitor driving in the US is treated if they run a red light or exceed the speed limit and receive an automated ticket through the mail once they returned to own country.?

Posted by Neil
Lake Forest Park, WA, USA
364 posts

Harlan, to answer the question in your last sentence, I do not believe the US has any authority to collect directly from Italian residents residing in Italy who receive traffic tickets while in the US. Certainly the Italian authorities do not have such a mechanism available to them in the US which is why you don't see letters from collection agencies based in the US. What they do is send threatening letters, more often than not by just regular mail (unregistered) and that gets a goodly number of people to pay. But there have been no demonstrated repercussions of not paying.

Italian law requires notification of the infraction within 360 days of the offense, NOT 360 days from when the police have identified the driver. Another piece of disinformation floating around out there.

Posted by J. A.
Lausanne
1 posts

One solution is to visit ANOTHER country in the future. Italy might have too many cumbersome tourists already.

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3290 posts

This post is about to celebrate its third birthday. I'm taking up a collection to buy it the My Little Pony carnival set!

Posted by Wade
Redmond
1 posts

You know what's sad? It is extremely easy to "guess" the username/passwords used on the EMO website. I'm not saying that I did this, but based on the two user names and passwords I received from EMO, I was able to easily derive the algorithm used to generate them. There's no way I'd give my credit card information to a company with such shoddy security practices.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3582 posts

Doug, I'll bring the cotton-candy machine! (with apologies to Harlan...)

Posted by Stephen
Burlingame, CA, USA
1 posts

I just received a registered letter containing a camera ticket that I apparently got in Florence this time last year. It is official and I paid it. To all the other posts, I say, consider paying them if it is received in a registered envelope. Since I travel to Europe and Italy often I can't afford an infraction on my record which could follow me upon my return. To the previous post who said, "he will never return to that country", you might instead consider this as an interesting cultural experience. In my estimation, a traffic ticket, as aggravating as it is, sure isn't worthy of writing off a country as fabulous as Italy. Buona fortuna!

Posted by milo
Dublin 5, Ireland
2 posts

Just today I got a communication from EMO ( aka Polizia Municipale D'Arezzo ) relating to my having apparently passed thru a limited entry sign in 2007. Having exchanged several emails with EMO in 2009 regarding this I thought they had gone away, but evidently I had underestimated the tenacity of that organization. I appreciate that most of your postings are of US/Canadian origin but is there anyone aware to what extent EU residents ( Ireland in my case ) are liable to be effectively chased by these people. Of about four letters received to date none has been by registered mail, this perhaps indicates a certain lack of serious intent in the matter. If I never again drive in Italy, or indeed omit Italy from my preferred vacations, this incident will have a lot to do with it. In general I'm a law-abiding soul, but something about the authorities' clandestine and retrospective method of handling this matter sticks in my craw. Milo Kane

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

milo, It's doubtful that anyone here can provide an answer to your question. As you noted, most of us here are from the U.S. and Canada and it's possible that EMO might be a bit more aggressive with residents of the E.U. than they are towards those from this part of the world. There may also be agreements in place between jurisdictions in the E.U. that allow for collection of traffic fines. Be sure to let us know how or whether this is resolved, as the information could be very helpful to those who drive in Italy. Good luck!

Posted by Gen
Ottawa, Canada
1 posts

Just got my ticket from Arezzo... completely ridiculous to pay 112 Euros for driving on wrong street... although I cannot recall going on a wrong street at all but avoiding them yes. Tried to enter credit card twice on emo.nivi.it yet they said my credit card did not get approved... I called credit card company and they have no record of transaction being tried. I will not keep entering all my credit card numbers and risking identity theft.
ONe thing for sure... never going back to Arezzo! Not worth that much money at all... small town with little to see getting rich on tourist traffic violations... Did anyone return to Italy with traffic violation outstanding and have problems?

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

Gen, are you absolutely sure you didn't cross a prohibited area? Crossing prohibited areas is an infraction monitored by cameras, not on-foot officers. You should call the rental agency and check details with them. They are the ones forwarding traffic fine details to authorities, if that is the case, after all.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Gen, "small town with little to see getting rich on tourist traffic violations... " The Zona Traffico Limitato areas were not implemented to victimize unwary tourists. They're designed to limit traffic in historic town centres, in order to minimize damage to old buildings. Italians from other towns, drivers from other parts of Europe or even residents of the town who "forget" are just as likely to be ticketed, so this is not something that's strictly aimed at tourists. Although you characterize Arezzo as a "small town with little to see", it's important to remember that the ZTL zones are prevalent in many other cities and towns in Italy (especially Florence), including those that have lots to see! This is one reason why I prefer to use public transit whenever possible, especially in Italy (although public transit has a few "pitfalls" also, as I've found out through experience). Cheers!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Gen unwittingly (maybe) has resurrected this zombie just past its 4th birthday!!! The last time it came out of the grave was in March of this year. Last year, when it was activated just before its 3rd birthday, Doug said he was taking up a collection for a My Little Pony carnival set. I don't have any small children. What would be a suitable present (not Christmassy) for a 4 year old? I liked the idea of a My Little Pony carnival set!

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3290 posts

From my experience, My Little Pony is still good. However, when my little one was four, we took her to Europe! Come to think of it, though, I'm not sure I would be comfortable taking a four year old zombie...

Posted by donna
cranberry twp, PA, United States
2404 posts

Harlan, I can see your point on it not being a timely manner but if you were never notified of the infraction what would be the point of having the law? Just because you don't feel it was done in a timely manner doesn't mean they shouldn't pursue it. I'm sure it takes a while to get the video, watch the video, track down the license tag, contact the rental car company, have them do the research and forward the information and then get back to you. With the number of tourists I'm sure this is a huge undertaking and the backlog of violations is probably pretty big. Donna

Posted by CR
New York, New York, USA
23 posts

We too got stung in Florence back in Aug 2009, apparently traveling down a restricted road. What a scam! We didn't receive our notification until Sept 2010 - more than 12 months after our trip. We immediately thought it was fraudulent especially after the news in the international media about the widespread photo-radar and traffic light tampering scam that has been going on in Italy. Apparently Italian municipalities have dolled out more than $16 million dollars in bogus fines. According to the reports we've seen about 20 local government officials and equipment vendors have been arrested for fraudulently skimming off the fine proceeds from these rigged cameras and traffic lights. We got chased down by a debt collection agency here a few weeks ago - who we didn't know from Adam - but have since got confirmation that they are working for EMO the domestically appointed Italian contractor. It makes you wonder how many people here in the US have been stung by this scam and already paid these bogus fines. Looks like it could get interesting, especially when motorist start asking for their money back. If you live in the US beware this agency is very aggressive. Given that it only seems to be foreign tourist that get unfairly caught by these traffic cameras, because they don't know the roads and don't understand the Italian on the signs, it must represent a big cash-cow, and a very convenient way for Italian municipalities to top up their empty coffers - I suppose it could be looked upon as and added tourist tax.

Posted by CR
New York, New York, USA
23 posts

The Municipal Police in Florence got my driving data on Sept 21st 2009. The first notice we received was by that count more than 11 months after our visit. They had plenty of time to notify us in a timely manner. Would you expect the same time delay in PA - I doubt it? Furthermore, with reports in the International media at that time (and in fact these reports are still ongoing) of widespread photo-radar and traffic light tampering in Italy by fraudulent local government officials and contractors who had rigged speed radar to show false speeds and red lights to change without turning to amber between green and red, we were very suspicious that we were being duped. Calls to the municipality in Florence yielded nothing to satisfy us otherwise. The back log is going to be big because the only people who are getting caught by these cameras in city centers are foreign tourists who don't know the roads and can't read the Italian restrictions that are posted on the signs. Believe me fines paid by foreigners for minor traffic infractions in Italy are a big cash-cow for the municipalities there. I bet you very few locals are getting dinged. The Italians sure know how to treat their visitors well. American tourists traveling to Italy be very aware!

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1590 posts

CR, this is a 4-year-old post you pulled up to gripe about your ticket. It appears you got a ticket for violating a ZTL (limited traffic zone) in Florence. Tthis has nothing to do with the red-light irregularities that were iin the news. And it is not at all unusual to receive the ticket a year later. It has happened to lots of people. The City of Florence has deemed it is in the public interest to restrict traffic in the city. If you drive into the rrestricted area, you get a ticket, but it takes time because they have to track you down through the rental car records. Don't expect due process standars of the United States Constitution (or Pennsylvania) to apply in Italy. If you drive thee you play by their rules. This is probably thei first time we have heard of one of these tickets going to a collection agency, though.

Posted by CR
New York, New York, USA
23 posts

I realize it has nothing to do with the speed photo-radar and red light ticketing scam, but this scam raised our suspicions. I reiterate that the municipal police were in receipt of our driving license and all of our contact details which they got from the car rental company 6 weeks after the infraction. In addition to the ticketing scam it was the time delay that compounded our concerns. The offence happened on the outskirts of town fairly close to the airport from what I can tell, we didn't go into the center. It would be interesting to learn what percentage of the tickets issued by Florence are issued to tourists and what revenue that generates for the city. You'd probably find like the rest of the country that number is very substantial.

Posted by CR
New York, New York, USA
23 posts

Sasha: Maybe someone should start a post titled "Italian Traffic Fines". The debt collection agency only called us about 10 days ago (2012), 2.5 years after the date of the infraction. There is a big storm brewing in Europe at European Commission about how the Italians are handling these. A lot of people ended up paying dubious fines to municipalities for falsely issued speeding and red light offences. I'm guessing a lot of Americans have been duped by this also.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Maybe someone should start a post titled CR, maybe it should be you. When you woke up this zombie thread it had been in its grave since 2007 when Harlan first posted it. It was last woken in December last year when we had the discussion about "My Little Pony". Still no Little Pony. If you want to have a moan start a thread. My guess is Harlan may not want his mail box full of your problems. BTW - not a scam.