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Insanely high traffic fines in Italy RIP OFF ALERT

Italy has gone absolutely crazy with their speeding fines. I was cited for doing 27 kph (13 miles per hour) over the limit. I was on the double highway between Florence and Pisa, in a 90 kph zone and I was pegged at doing 117. The fine is 210 Euro or nearly $250!
I would use swear words here but this is a public forum. Needless to say my respect and love for the Italians has been pounded.
This is extortion, plain and simple. Warning! DO NOT SPEED IN ITALY. Oh and guess what? If you write a letter to the judge (which must be in Italian) and you try and fight it, and the judge denies your appeal, then the fine is automatically doubled. This is extortion supported by the courts.

Posted by
24855 posts

That's not news on the Rick Steves Forums.

We've been warning people to obey the law when driving in Italy for absolutely years.

You have been posting here since 2012. How did you miss it?

By the way - you were exceeding the speed limit by a full 30 percent. If you had been European you would have probably had your driving licence suspended or revoked for a period of time.

€210 is getting off very light. You should be grateful.

Posted by
11613 posts

Your post contained a very important piece of information: DO NOT SPEED IN ITALY.

Why is the consequence of breaking the law a ripoff? Last year I got a photo-can ticket in the city of Toledo, the fine was $110.

If, as you admit, you were driving 117 in a 90 kph zone, you should not be surprised. Wait until you encounter the speed-averaging devices on motorways between exits.

By the way, Italians get fined the same as you did, it might get them railing against the authorities. Free speech is good, breaking the law is not.

Posted by
6535 posts

Do you want to know how much a speeding ticket in Southern CA is, especially for aggravated speeding ? Enough said...
I think this ticket will do the trick for you in terms of future speeding.

Posted by
533 posts

27 kph is 17 mph, not 13. In American money, you were doing 72 in a 55.

Posted by
4522 posts

You seemed to have learned a lesson that most Italians already know and that many tourists learn the hard way. Speeding, even in relatively minor levels, is treated very strictly and heavily enforced with automatic cameras. The highways even have systems that can track the time it takes you to travel a certain distance, thwarting radar detectors and known fixed speed camera locations. And don't think Italians aren't caught too, given the ubiquitous cameras and low thresholds for tickets.

Speeding in the US is treated culturally and legally as a pretty minor thing and it is not uncommon to find many drivers going 80 in a 55 zone on Chicago expressways (the alternative is crawling). Enforcement is almost unheard of. I suspect the same rules apply most everywhere else in the US. But part of traveling is understanding cultural and legal differences.

Not sure why you would have written to the judge or contested the ticket. You may not like it, but you were caught and cited. Italy is a sovereign nation and can set it's fines as it sees fit.

Just wait until you get charged by your rental agency for an administrative fee to provide your contact info to the authorities...

Posted by
8889 posts

This is not extortion, or a rip off, or any other such thing. It is a fair fine for doing something that was dangerous to other road users.

You were lucky they didn't take your licence away. If the Swiss catch people exceeding the limit by too much, they take your licence away on the spot. If you are a foreigner they cannot take your licence away permanently, but they can ban you from driving in Switzerland, effective immediately. If there is no other authorised driver in the car (with licence and insurance), then you need a tow truck and a taxi to the nearest station, both at your expense.

BTW, 27 Kph is 17 MPH (27 ÷ 1.6)

Posted by
15752 posts

It is actually closer to 17 mph over the limit. So doing 73 in a 56 mph zone. Even here, where the cops routinely give you 10 mph leeway, that would have brought a ticket.
Now I don't have the precise facts on this one, but the gist is there. In Finland, speeding fines are levied on a percentage of annual income, say 0.5% for excessively over the limit. There was this Finnish entrepreneur who just scored 20,000,000 euro on his internet start-up. While testing the capabilities of his new Porsche, he got pulled over. Do the math on the cost of that ticket.

Posted by
12090 posts

Very sorry you're so upset but as Nigel pointed out, the fine is not "crazy", a "rip off " nor "extortion." It's simply Italian law that applies to citizens and tourists alike. Different country; different situation.

No reason to lose the love. Swallow the fine and lighten the lead foot next time, or take a train. :O)

Posted by
8293 posts

You don't love the Italians anymore because you were caught breaking one of their laws? Well, that makes sense.

Posted by
351 posts

Add me to the chorus of: Yes the fine itself, and the doubling of the fine due to your appeal being denied sting, but you were breaking the law (by a lot!) so take your lumps. The Italian authorities were well within their rights to enforce their own laws. Laws which are probably available to read over and understand before you choose to drive.

I can completely understand feeling irritation - having to pay a big fine sucks, but it's not a scam or a rip off. Heck, in MA you might end up with a speeding ticket close to your original fine for 17mph over the limit, depending on where and when you were in violation and which discretionary add-ons the office wanted to assess (e.g. speeding to endanger).

Posted by
2164 posts

And they didn't add any points to your driving record. Nor report this to your state, which is then picked up by your insurance., which depending on your company would likely result in substantial surcharges for 3-5 years, and on the next incident possibly cancellation of your policy forcing you into assigned risk. Nor to the credit bureaus, which now can lower credit ratings based on one's driving record.

Yes, this is indeed a RIP OFF!

Posted by
7204 posts

Why do people equate consequences (like a speeding ticket) with a rip-off?

If you can't obey the speed limit in an automobile - then take the train!

Posted by
1666 posts

You no longer like Italians because you are not responsible for you own actions?

It's not extortion. It's a law. You broke it. There are consequences. Reality is harsh.

Posted by
101 posts

The doubling of the fine for a denied appeal makes perfect sense. We expect people to pay court costs for frivolous appeals in the US. The Italians are simply doing the same thing to keep their courts from being flooded with unfounded appeals. On what grounds did you expect the Italian courts to overturn your fine. You admit you broke the law. Sounds like you're the one trying to extort something.

Posted by
1068 posts

Well, not to add fuel..... but I got a ticket about 6-7 years ago on a Sunday morning, bright sunny day with almost no traffic. The posted speed limit was 65 and I was doing 68. I asked what the problem was and he said it was in a "construction zone" and the speed limit had been reduced to 55.... of course, fines double in a construction zone. It was on an interstate and there was no sign of construction (ie, men working, equipment, holes in the side of the road, barriers etc). My ticket was over $200, which I appealed and lost. On the way back, I did spot a small sign on the side of the road which said it was a construction zone. A few weeks later, yes, lots of machinery, trucks, barriers etc., but not when I was there. This occurred right here in beautiful Oregon, so, if you break the law.... you are going to pay the price.

Posted by
2246 posts

Or, as Napolean Dynamite would have said...LUUUCKY!

Posted by
518 posts

Why on earth would you try and fight the ticket? On what grounds would you be fighting the ticket? That you weren't in fact speeding?

So you love/respect the Italians less because you broke their laws? You do realize right, that "Italians" encompasses an extremely broad group of people and not just the officer that issued you your ticket or those in the police department.

Posted by
20966 posts

Just one less future tourist to clog up the sites. But actually isn't the idea that you don't speed anywhere. I would bet that I would get a ticket in Florida if doing 13 miles over the limit. Trying doing that in a school zone. Sounds like you were actually stopped by an officer since camera tickets take about a year to arrive on you door step. So if stopped by an officer what would be your basis for appeal? Pay it. You earned it.

Posted by
6242 posts

My most expensive speeding ticket was in Denver and even though I was only going 5 mph over the speed limit, it was (as Frank mentioned) a school zone and the ticket was $175. Needless to say I now NEVER exceed the speed limit in a school zone, even though I often have people lining up behind me giving me the evil eye.

In truth, I suspect the OP is sitting back and laughing at all the response he got with his inane rant post. In 4 years the guy has posted twice and responded to other posts twice. I think he's just poking a stick at us.

Posted by
518 posts

"...In truth, I suspect the OP is sitting back and laughing at all the response he got with his inane rant post."

I considered this as well, that this post (and others like it) are all part of some social experiment and the OP is collecting this data for research. There's been a number of posts like this recently, i.e., people that come on, having never posted before or maybe only a couple of times, ranting and whining about how poorly they were treated in a foreign country. One that comes to mind has to do with renting an apartment in Paris that had renovations going on in the building. We should collect them all and put them in some kind of hall of fame (or wall of shame) post.

Posted by
11613 posts

To be fair, the OP's other posts seem pretty benign, a couple are informative.

Posted by
1047 posts

In CA your fine would be close to that amount and your insurance would go up as well unless you paid $100+ and went to traffic school. I don't like the fact that if you appeal and lose, the one is double.

Posted by
11929 posts

I would say that writing a letter to the judge to appeal the fine is a really bad idea.

Do you expect special treatment because you are a visitor in their country?

FWIW, the fine for going even 3 mph over the 20mph limit in a school zone here in Seattle is $234.

Posted by
11450 posts

Do not speed in my part of Canada, we had a American tourist on a tripadvisor forum whining and rantingabout his speeding ticket here. He not only got a big fine, his rental car was impounded, he had to pay the impoundment fee plus for another week rental ( to rental agency since they lost use of car for week impoundment)

American was not just speeding, he was caught and fined for " excessive speeding" 20 kms over limit.

American claaimed highway speed limits were not well marked, but many of us locals drive that section often and called baloney on that, lots of signs.

Funny how the tourist admitted he was rushing and distracted, so maybe thats why didnt see the signs.

Like that is an excuse ????

So you were speeding excessively, but got off easier in italy then you would have here. See , Italians are nice.

Posted by
7303 posts

Hope this one is the Question of the Month.

Posted by
2566 posts

RIP OFF ALERT! If you were exceeding the speed limit by 17 mph in Sarasota, your fine would be $256. So you got off cheap!

Posted by
2353 posts

Speeding in Cotulla TX 10 - 20 mph over - $179! Italians do not have the monopoly on high speeding fines.

EDIT - The constable who issued the ticket is the husband of the Justice of the Peace who collects your fine - just try & dispute it!

Bottom line - Don't speed if you can't afford it!

Posted by
11929 posts

Apparently James does not speed in Florida where he lives, and was unaware of the size of the fine there. The good news is that this Italianone probably will not go on his driving record and increase his insurance cost.

Posted by
31217 posts

James,

As the old saying goes, "ignorance of the law....."

There have been numerous posts on the forum over the years warning travellers about the tough speeding laws in Italy (and other European countries), along with warnings about ZTL's and other traps. Did you not see any of these?

You were treated the same as an Italian, German, English, Canadian or citizen of any other country, given the speed you were clocked at and this is NOT extortion. They likely have a photo with your smiling countenance zipping past the speed camera, so there's no point in disputing it. This is "supported by the courts" as it's the law in Italy.

If you ever travel here in B.C., be very careful about distracted driving (using your mobile phone while driving). A woman in the Vancouver area recently racked up 14 tickets for that offence and aside from the fines, she'll be paying a premium of about $16,000 to renew her insurance next year.

Posted by
2487 posts

a letter to the judge (which must be in Italian)
Complaining about a speed ticket is one thing, but complaining that a letter to an official must be written in the official language of the relevant country is over the top. Which American official would accept communication in Italian or, for that matter, Polish or Danish?

Posted by
12154 posts

Comparable to doing 72 in a 55 zone is a bit much. At most using that example of 55 you could have gone 60. Not excuse for 72. That's another reason I don't drive in Europe, and put up with the hassle .....tickets for parking, gas, speeding, paying it, even if money were no issue, appealing the ticket....not worth the bother. One other thing...if the appeal were in Chinese (referred to above), it's the pronunciation by the reader of the written content that determines whether it's Mandarin or Cantonese...not the characters themselves. True here you can go to traffic school, if you should qualify.

Posted by
15 posts

We were in Italy 5 years ago and were attempting to return our car rental to the place of origin. We were using our GPS that was in the car. Unfortunately, many roads were blocked for construction and we were unable to follow the "safe" route to the car rental place. Two years later, we received the first two of three tickets that demanded payment for being in an unauthorized area. The first TWO tickets were paid, even though we believe that we were not at fault.The amount was over $200. The third ticket came last week, five years later, for driving in a bus lane on the way out of Florence. I believe that this is unfair, but have paid the fine of $245 because of our concern that somehow our credit will be affected in the US. From what I have read, the Italians hand over the debt to US companies. Will most likely never drive in Italy again. Will be taking the train to Cinque Terra in October.
Barbara

Posted by
12154 posts

A pity that so much money was wasted on those tickets. I would never even consider driving in Italy, not worth the hassle, the effort, rules, the expense.

Posted by
1782 posts

I think the fine would have been much higher here in Los Angeles. I know a camera ticket for running a red light costs almost twice as much as the $250 the OP paid.

Posted by
69 posts

I wish they were strict like this in enforcing our speeding laws here in Ontario !! Just sayin'

Posted by
12154 posts

Keep in mind that you get that speeding ticket here, you can go to Traffic School, provided that you qualify. You still end up paying, but it is less and won't be counted against you insurance wise.

Posted by
12123 posts

I don't know about your State, but here in California if you exceed the speed limit between 16 and 25 miles per hour (you exceeded it by 17 mph) the fine will end up costing you $360.

Italian fines are cheap!!!

Posted by
2 posts

Pat from Victoria, BC - Wow, those of us not from Virginia probably would be surprised that 20 kph over the speed limit is considered excessive speeding that gets you arrested and your car impounded. (20 kph is 12 mph, here in the states you often won't attract attention until you're at least 10 mph over, much less having a severe penalty thrown at you.) Good to know, I'll make doubly sure to keep my nose clean when I visit your fair province.

/Guess Oregon's pretty darn lenient then...

Posted by
12154 posts

Be advised not to get a parking ticket in SF, which will cost you more than $65, which was the old amount.

Posted by
31217 posts

Ryan R.,

Further to pat's comments, these are the penalties for excessive speeding in B.C.

Fines

  • Exceeding the driving limit by more than 40 km/h— $368 fine plus the driver will receive three penalty points on his or her driving record.
  • Exceeding the driving limit by more than 60 km/h — $483 fine plus the driver will receive three penalty points on his or her driving record.

Impoundment of the Vehicle

Excessive speeding will also result in the immediate impoundment of the vehicle you are driving and costs:

  • seven days for a first offence plus towing and storage costs – at least $210
  • 30-days for a second offence within a two-year period plus towing and storage costs – approximately $700
  • 60 days for any subsequent offences within two years plus towing and storage costs – over $1200

As an added "gift", drivers who accumulate too many points will be required to pay a surcharge when they renew their insurance, with the amount determined by the number of points. For example, a woman in the Vancouver area accumulated 42 points for "Distracted Driving" (texting). The surcharge for her car insurance renewal would be $16,160 as shown on this chart - http://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/tickets/Pages/Driver-Penalty-Points.aspx (the DMV finally pulled her D.L., which in her case was most appropriate).

There's also another level of penalties for those scofflaws that are convicted under the Criminal Code of Canada (ie: Impaired Driving). They may also be assessed the Driver Risk Premium (in addition to jail time or whatever), with the highest penalty amount being $24,000, as shown on this chart - http://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/tickets/Pages/Driver-Risk-Premium.aspx

It always amazes me that people aren't getting the message, and they continue year-after-year with idiotic driving habits. The government increased the penalties for distracted driving last year, and they're now looking at increasing them further as people still aren't getting the message. It's likely that the new penalties will include an impoundment option, perhaps after three strikes? We have a provincial election coming up next May, so I doubt anything will change until then.

Posted by
203 posts

I'm not entirely sure how you doing something wrong and then being penalised for it is a tourist scam but ok. You may want to abound Australia- that same dumbarse decision would have been around €320 at today's exchange rate. If you had killed my children whilst driving 30km/hr above the limit your medical bills would have far exceeded the speeding fine. Just slow down and enjoy travelling

Posted by
1 posts

Here is what I am wondering -- are the speed limit signs visibly posted often on the highway between Florence and Pisa? My husband did the driving when we were there in May, and we just got a speeding ticket in the mail for this stretch of highway. I realize I was not driving, but I can't remember noticing any signs indicating the kph limit on this highway. I do recall quite a few cars traveling at much greater speeds than us.

My husband and I try to be very diligent about minding the rules of the road, so the speeding ticket came as a shock. I'm also wondering why the ticket didn't include the image that provides evidence of our violation. The ticket verbiage referenced photographic evidence that the police used to make their determination. In California I thought they included the image with the ticket whenever you get a moving violation through the mail.

Posted by
2246 posts

" I do recall quite a few cars traveling at much greater speeds than us"

nehill74, I suspect these are locals who a) know what the speed limit is for a given stretch of road and b) know where the cameras are.

Posted by
24855 posts

are the speed limit signs visibly posted often on the highway between Florence and Pisa? ........ but I can't remember noticing any signs indicating the kph limit on this highway.

There are legal "National" speed limits in each country in Europe which set the maximum speed limits for different conditions. These limits are taught to each driver as they learn how to drive, and visiting drivers from other countries are expected to know them. Speed limit signs are rare, as everybody should know them.

Each country is different, and posts a big sign at the border to let visitors know of the national laws.

In Italy it is:

Autostrada - 130 kph
Rural Dual Carriageway not Autostrada - 110 kph
Rural Single Carriageway - 90 kph
Urban - 50 kph

The limits are changed as needed for construction, rough road, narrow lanes, etc., and signs posted which only apply for the length of the hazard unless there are repeater signs.

There are not only speed cameras but also stretches of what is called Traffic Tutor where your speed is averaged over a long distance.

BTW - France even legally modifies the speeds in rain, and Germany is very strict about the speed in fog.

Also, nehill74, by hitchhiking on James' thread it means that he will get notified of all the answers for you even though his question was 8 months ago. If you want to know when your question has received an answer you can have your own thread.

Posted by
11613 posts

Some places in the US (like Toledo OH) do provide photographic evidence with the ticket, but not all do. It varies from state to state, I would not expect a sovereign nation to have the same rules as some US states do.