Will traffic tickets from Italy be charged to your credit card ?

My question is simple.
Has any one not paid a traffic ticket from Italy only to find that Hertz ( or the car rental company) when ahead and charged the entire ticket in your credit car? I was in in Italy in Sept 2011. I am now on my third ticket being sent to me 13 months later. The first was a camera outside Rome that says I went through a red light. I paid it. Soon after I got a ticket that says I was in the off limits area Lucca ( by camera shot). I did go in to Lucca by pure accident, I paid that. 2 weeks later I get another ticket ( no camera). An officer claims I went through a red light in Lucca. Funny it came 2 weeks after I paid the other fine. This one is $250 US. And I find it suspicious. If I pay this ticket, the tickets add up to more that the rental charge for 10 days! I do not want to pay this one, but I hate to have some big charge on my credit card sometime down the road which would not surprise me. Thanks for info on this.

Posted by donna
cranberry twp, PA, United States
2392 posts

Did they send you a copy of the ticket that the officer wrote? He must have made some documentation so you should be able to ask to see it. If it's dated at the same time you were in Lucca then you should pay the fine. Donna

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Donna's right. You should have been provided with documentation.
Italy's tough with their cameras on the ZTL's, traffic lights and cameras built into their radars. They don't waste salaries on radar officers, as cameras are more efficient. They're also equal opportunity. I was caught speeding on a bridge/causeway going into Venice without another car in sight. Hertz paid the gestapo, and charged me for it and $46 admin. fee. The time and day noted was when I was there. It's just all part of the odyssey into Italy.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

The rental car company can't disclose your credit card details to the traffic authorities, just your identifying information (name, address, etc). Nor do traffic authorities have the right to charge your credit card without your authorization. If they could do that, you'd hear the screams from here to Hobart, Tasmania. The rental company cannot and will not pay your fine for you (by charging it to your credit card). They have no right or authority to do so. They also have no interest in becoming a collection agent for the traffic authorities. If you see a credit card charge related to a traffic violation, that is simply the rental company's administrative fee for providing your identifying information to the authorities - something they are required to do by Italian law. There's been some talk on this board that overseas traffic authorities are starting to use American collection agencies to go after people - with resultant dings to your credit score - but I have no idea if this is true. One general risk to Americans and other foreign tourists ignoring traffic fines is that it may lead to Italian traffic police trying more and more to collect fines on the spot. This is just my speculation.

Posted by Phil
Boston, MA
2 posts

Yes , I have the ticket. Such efficiency 13 months after the fact. I had not rented a car in Italy for some time, so this is a new experience that I won't forget. The rental for 10 days is costing less than the traffic tickets.
I read on the website ( to pay the ticket) that they (police) will not charge the rental car or your credit card automatically. I will copy and paste it to my next post. Not used to a camera at every intersection, and you all know what it is like to drive in Italy. The stress factor is unreal. Not for most American drivers.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
700 posts

13 months is nothing in Italy, I once got a ticket in the mail 5 years after the infraction.

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

After five years I hope that you have not paid it, the time of notification of the traffic tiket are a maximum of 90 days for residents in Italy and 360 days for residents abroad. Law No. 120 of July 29, 2010.

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

Home > Services > Consular services > Legal office International notification infringement to the Highway Code (FAQs and information for foreign drivers in Italy) Notification of traffic infringements occurred while driving in Italy Renting a car is nowadays a very common option amongst tourists who visit Italy. It certainly offers a very flexible and independent way to explore our beautiful country. Unfortunately, it is however possible that while driving abroad one may incur the violation of the local road traffic regulations, in which case a notice of infringement, that requires the payment of a ticket, is served. The most common infringements regard parking offences, speeding, driving in the reserved lanes for buses and taxis. Besides, an increasing number of cases pertaining to unauthorized transit in the so called traffic restricted area (in Italian: "zona a traffico limitato", ZTL) has been reported. As a matter of fact the latter typology of violation is due to the fact that many city councils in Italy, in order to curb the traffic in their historical downtown areas, have established an area with restricted accessibility (ZTL), monitored by cameras, where circulation is only possible by holders of specific permits. Regretfully, it often appears that tourists are unaware that by entering these restricted zones they infringe the traffic regulations and that as a consequence they may be fined, in which case the notification of the violation is served irrespectfully of the country of residence.
In case of a violation of the traffic regulations on board of a vehicle with a foreign number plate or on board of a vehicle with Italian plates, when the driver is not an Italian resident (i.e. a tourist), the standard procedure implies that the Police authorities stop the vehicle and notify the infringement to the driver on the spot. continues

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

The driver can then either decide to pay the penalty immediately (losing his right to appeal against it), or pay a deposit thus appealing against the fine at a later stage. However, when the infringement is recorded by means of an automated monitoring camera system, such as those in place at the numerous electronic gateways to the above mentioned areas with restricted access (ZTL), on-the-spot-fining is not possible. In such cases, Police authorities can pursue native ways to identify the drivers allowing them to proceed with the notification of the infringement outside of Italy. These procedures may differ from country to country depending on international conventions or agreements between the parties concerned.
If the offence took place while driving a rental vehicle, the process of serving the notification of the infringement to the driver (often a foreign citizen) is easier since the car rental company is obliged by law to provide the driver's details to the Police authorities. In case of failure of payment, enforcement of the penalty may also be possible abroad, depending on the existing agreements between the concerned states, namely between the country in which the driver is resident and the country where the offence occurred.

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

Lastly, also Italian citizens may likewise be notified of a traffic infringement occurred in another country. In fact - just like it is the case in Italy - a non resident driver may be either fined on the spot or opt for the right to appeal. If it is not possible to fine the driver on the spot, the fine is served to the country of residence. Infringement notices clearly indicate either the methods of payment of the fine or the available options for appeal. Other information that appear on the notification served are the details of the issuing office, where more information about the violation may be requested, deadlines and means of payment of the ticket, deadlines for the appeal against the infringement. Quite often in case of notification of infringements to non-residents of Italy, Italian city councils operate in conjunction with specialized companies which take care of serving the infringement notice using multi-lingual templates. Since the matter is solely dealt with by Italian city councils and local Police authorities, this Consulate General of Italy has no means to step into the process nor to forward any communications on behalf of the recipient of the notice, cash the fine amount nor to receive complaints or appeals regarding the violation notified.
In case of doubts about the legitimacy or authenticity of the document received, it is recommendable to verify with the issuing authority, namely the city council or Police station in Italy whose phone number or email should appear on the document, the details of the infringements. Date and location of the violation, license plate number, maker and model of the vehicle object of the ticket should be verified to exclude that the notification may indeed be a scam.

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

FAQ 1) We have already paid the car rental company. Car rental companies are not able to collect payment of fines on behalf of the police force. On the basis of what is stipulated in the car rental agreement you signed with the company, the amount paid with your credit card corresponds to the administrative expenses incurred by the car rental company for having transmitted your personal data to the authorities, after which the police took care of sending you the fine for the violation of the traffic code perpetrated by the vehicle in question during the rental period. 2) What is the ZTL (limited traffic zone)? The limited traffic zone is an area where the circulating of unauthorised vehicles is not allowed. Only the following vehicles may access this area: vehicles at the service of the disable and vehicles with special permits issued by the city council. Normally the accesses in the larger cities are controlled by cameras which take photos of the unauthorised vehicles as they enter. All entrances to the ZTL recorded by the camera are considered as distinct and separate violations due to being dynamic violations and therefore every single fine is regular and cannot be attributed to one and the same violation. In the smaller towns the zone is controlled directly by the traffic police. The ZTL is indicated with vertical no-entry signs.

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

Probably a few years ago the municipal authorities, especially in tourist cities, would let it go to send tickets to a foreign national, but today it is not so. Here now there are these strange beings called "traffic wardens", they lurk near your car while waiting for the parking meter expires and very fast and they will leave on your windshield the damn slip of paper. In the ZTL then there is no hope with these infrared cameras, once could argue with the policeman explaining that you had not seen the signal because a your family member was very sick or your home was flooded, but now you must to pay and silence!

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

3) FLORENCE – I was staying in a hotel right in the centre of the ZTL. Was I authorised? Guests of hotels may enter the Limited Traffic Area (ZTL) with their cars only and exclusively on the day of their arrival and/or departure for unloading/loading their luggage. At the moment of check-in and/or check-out, the hotel have to communicate the licence plate number of the vehicle to the Municipal Police. If the license plate number was wrongly entered into the Municipal Police website used for the registration of license plate numbers, you need to send us a copy of the hotel receipt and statement from the hotel confirming their mistake. If the hotel did not communicate the license plate number due to an oversight, you need to lodge an appeal to Prefect of Florence within 60 days from receiving the official notification of the infringement by registered mail with return receipt, enclosing a declaration from the hotel, confirming your stay and that they did not communicate the license plate number of your vehicle to the Municipal Police on the date of your arrival and/or departure. 4) AREZZO - I was staying in a hotel right in the centre of the ZTL. Was I authorised? Guests of incoming structures may enter the ZTL with their cars to reach the structure they are staying at. 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 you must send us a document proving you stayed in the hotel (invoice or declaration from the hotel).

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

Why did the fine arrive so many months after the date of the violation? According the Italian Traffic Code the police have 360 days after the date of the violation or identification of the owner of the vehicle within which to notify fines to foreigners. In the event of rented vehicles, the 360 days start as from the date of identification of the holder of the rental agreement at the time of the violation, or from the date of receipt of the personal data sent by the car rental company.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

@Claudio, The fact that they're using Traffic Wardens doesn't surprise me. I've also seen authorities in Rome using "The Boot" to enforce parking regulations. I don't know how much it costs to get that unlocked, but I'm sure it's not cheap. That perhaps explains the frustration and the actions taken by the driver in THIS Video.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
700 posts

In my case, no, I never paid it and never heard another word about it.

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

Unfortunately, the Italian municipalities are using, a little shameless, the tickets to compensate for lower financial transfers from the central government.

Posted by donna
cranberry twp, PA, United States
2392 posts

I don't really see how that's possible. If people weren't breaking the law there would be no income from traffic tickets. It's not the fault of the government that people are speeding or driving through restricted areas, it's the fault of the driver. To blame it on the police, gestapo or government is really trying to shift the blame from where it rightfully belongs---with the law breakers. Donna

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

@Claudio, " Unfortunately, the Italian municipalities are using, a little shameless, the tickets to compensate for lower financial transfers from the central government." That might explain why they've become somewhat more aggressive in collecting outstanding fines, including from those in North America. Given the current financial climate in Italy and other countries, any source of revenue is important! In the past few years, I've also noticed that the Conductors on trains seem to be more diligent in collecting fines from those who haven't validated tickets, or from those who don't have valid reservations. I witnessed one such incident in September when I was in Italy. That particular incident involved an Italian (I believe) and he chose to get into an argument with the Conductor, so the end result was predictable. With my limited Italian skills, I wasn't able to determine what his offence was. Cheers!

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

@Ken I will confess you that here in northern Italy I've never seen "the boot", while it is normal use, for example in the Czech Republic. Although I have read that in Milan the police want to put the boot to cars with foreign number plates (the Ticino swiss never pay the italian tickets). What I find irritating is that the severity of the municipal police is due more to a need to raise money for the municipalities than for desire of a better traffic control. My humble advice is that would be useful for the driver to have a GPS with updated maps and the setting to avoid the ZTL.