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Never ending claims of traffic violations with no proof

So I went to Italy as well. Got a parking ticket in Pisa from a non working meter and went to the police station and paid. Then over a year later I get another for supposedly driving in a restricted area with a notation that since there was a video image that I was guilty however they could not produce any proof or image. Nor did I get any notification for over 2 years that there was a violation and Was contacted by a harassing third party. Now 3.5 years later I get another call from yet another third party debt collector that I had another violation of driving in a restricted area, no proof no image but coincidentally in the same town (Pisa) where I already paid a fine. I see that there is a 360 day statute of limitation for notification or 60 day notification from the car rental company that a violation was made, Neither was ever made in those time frames. I get that if you rent any car and have a traffic violation that you should pay. In this case violations are coming with no proof and being harassed by debt collectors and of course I question the legitimacy of these charges. I spent over $600 for a car rental and over $12,000 in supporting the towns and lodging for 10 days. This guarantees that never will my money go back to Italy. Nor do the car rental companies provide any info on these rules which I see as a profit center for towns and looks to be a sham of my info being given to bogus departments to cheat money out of tourists. Of course I realize that we are all adults and should be responsible to find out what rules there may be.
Am I correct in any statutes of limitations here and any rights if there is no proof provided.

Posted by
20893 posts

Since you are new to this site with your rant, I suggest you use the site search feature and read similar postings and especially the responses for answers to your question. This is reoccurring problem with no good solution. And it is not a scam any more than if a foreign visitor here gets a traffic ticket. All of Europe makes heavy use of traffic cameras. It is very unlikely that a third party collection agency could obtain a judgement against you in a US court. But they can ding your credit history.

Posted by
1639 posts

I'll bite... what does "I spent over $600 for a car rental and over $12,000 in supporting the towns" prove to anyone? Who cares?Totally not relevant except that it does make me wonder what the heck you are doing. I hope at $1,000 a night you were in palaces. LOL!

Without source documentation no one has a clue if you are correct in your statute of limitation announcements.

It's up to you to abide by the laws, the rental car company does NOT look like either your mommy or your daddy and is therefore not responsible for teaching you how to obey local laws.

Posted by
6970 posts

Your frustration about collection agencies coming after for traffic fines from mid 2017 is understandable.

As for the legitimacy of the charges, that is unknowable to anyone here.

How many charges did the rental car company hit you with as their fee for looking up and responding to a police inquiry. The fee typically mentioned is $30-$50. That is just the rental car company fee for their time to address the police query and not anything to do with the fine itself.

Read the 11th post here:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/5-traffic-fines-in-5-days-in-italy-around-800-euro-what-are-the-consequences-of-not-paying

Posted by
7201 posts

Haha - take the train next time and you'll never have to worry about another traffic ticket.

Posted by
15692 posts

Of course, then you'd probably forget to validate your ticket in the stamping machine and get fined for that too.

And I'm going to try that argument the next time I get a speeding ticket here in the States. "I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting the US economy and paying taxes in my lifetime and this is the thanks I get?"

Posted by
1118 posts

Hopefully someone from Italy will come on and give you some info that can help. Maybe Dario or Roberto!

I saw the sign for a ZTL just as I passed it. I backed up and so far haven’t heard a thing. It’s been two years.

Posted by
614 posts

I’m missing something; 2 tickets have finally showed up. How does 2 become “never ending”?

Posted by
1564 posts

I spent over $600 for a car rental and over $12,000 in supporting the
towns and lodging for 10 days. This guarantees that never will my
money go back to Italy.

If you will only spend money somewhere if you can break the laws without consequences, I don't think the towns will be sad if you go somewhere else. It's not like Italy has a shortage of tourists in normal times.

Nor do the car rental companies provide any info on these rules

It's not their job to teach you how to drive. They usually want to see a licence to make you are allowed to drive, and presume that you know the laws. Did you ask them about it? From a legal standpoint, getting behind the steering wheel in a car and driving away is the same as signing a document stating "Yes I have read and understood all the relevant laws and rules and accept full legal resposibility for all my actions".

which I see as a profit center for towns and looks to be a sham of my
info being given to bogus departments to cheat money out of tourists.

The rules are not there to cheat money out of tourists. The ZTL-rules e.g. are there to keep the old historic city centres free of cars that don't have to be there. To make sure they are pleasant, pedestrian friendly and worth visiting. And not just clogged up with cars.

Of course I realize that we are all adults and should be responsible
to find out what rules there may be.

Good. Did you look up the rules?

You should be happy that you were fined in Italy where the fines are pretty low and not a country were it's more expensive to break the law. Like Iceland, where a russian tourist was fined around €3,200 for ignoring the laws and driving where he wasn't allowed to drive. Or four americans that where fined €11,000 in total for a similar incident.

Posted by
442 posts

Come on folks I think you are being a bit harsh on the OP. I understand his point (not saying I 100% agree but I understand). The point he is trying to make is that these towns often exist mostly or in very large part on tourist dollars. Getting thousands from individual tourists. Then they have rules and signs that are not very easily understood by tourist and on top of that the method of and time they take to work through the ticketing processes can be ridiculous.
There is NO excuse for any modern government to be taking years to sent out a ticket. And there should be some sort of proof provided.
I personally will pay for any ticket I am issued (it is the price of screwing up) but I should not be sitting here years latter wondering if I am going to get a ticket from passing the truck that was half on the shoulder and half in the road with its 4 ways on that forced me to go over the line.

Also some slack for tourist in areas that are not clearly marked would be nice. Not saying tourists get a free pass but if you have an area that tourist are notoriously getting tickets in maybe you need to look at how you are indicating with your signs what they can’t do.
The point of traffic laws should not be revenue but safety.
I have a great example of this locally. I have a 45mph road that drops with no warning to 30 as it descends a hill and the sign is hidden in the tree branches. Once down the hill it goes back to 45. This is a known (locally) speed trap.
A better example was from a rafting trip. As we are getting ready to leave after rafting the last thing the guides tell people is to watch the spread on the road most will take on the way out as it drops to 25 from 50 with no warning and the spread limit sign is extremely hard to see as it is in amongst i thing about 6 other signs, so most folks don’t see it in time to slow to 25 and they issue tickets for doing 35 to out of state cars costing hundreds of dollars as they know no one will fight it as who is going to take the time off to drive back and go to court.

Once again not saying you have to give tourists a free pass but if your town/city makes huge money off tourists and you are constantly ticketing them for something maybe you need to figure out a better way of making whatever it is known to drivers.

And we have all seen multiple stories here in the ridiculous way it can take forever to get a ticket to someone. My friend just rented a car over thanksgiving to drive out state. He used a toll road and the toll booths are not maned due to COVID so a camera took a photo when he got on and off to determine his toll due. He has already received the toll. And his rental car company didn’t charge him anything for it.

The reality is that there are locations that know they have confusing or hard to fine signs and take advantage of them to get money from those annoying tourists. And the Car rental places are taking advantage of the situation to get some money as well.

This system is antiquated at best and should be updated. And it sure as hell is not helping attract tourists. But no one cares. Because A) most tourist to Europe from the US (and other distant counties) don’t tend to return to a place a second time, B) the returning tourist are more in the know and or take other transit so less likely to get effected. C) are willing to play the game as price of being a tourist D) most folks think they are smart enough or lucky enough that it won’t happen to them E) the vast majority of tourists don’t do enough research to know about this before committing to the visit.

As for this perticular post my question is why is the OP getting these notices from collection agencies. Are the fees for the ticket (from the government) or for the rental company? And why didn’t the original notice get to the OP?

Posted by
24613 posts

we only have the OP's version of what happened, in camera offenses in Italy (and in most of Europe) there is always a photo which can be supplied to the offender but it often does not come with the notice of violation but can often been seen by following a provided link.

It is really hard to not know that you went into a ZTL in Pisa. They are well signed and you have to drive through a pinch point.

Have a look at http://www.athomeintuscany.org/2011/10/15/pisa-ztl-limited-traffic-zone/ Note that is is not a https site but it quite safe.

As you scroll down you see exactly what the entrance looks like.

Posted by
17858 posts

But those signs are only obvious if you know what European traffic-control signs look like. So many of the people who complain here seem never to have opened the "Driving in xxxxx" section of a guidebook, so they don't know anything about what type of restrictions may exist or what signs to look for.

Posted by
2052 posts

Usually I am not all that sympathetic. But the issue here is not the fines, but the timing.

Michael, have you sent a note to the Italian consulate?

Posted by
20893 posts

Not sure what the Italian consulate would do/could do for you. It is pretty much a local matter and collection agency is involved. Still my assumption that a collection agency purchased the bad debt for a few pennies on the Euro and just taking a run at seeing who is will to pay a little. Be careful that you don't "refresh" the debt by admitting to something or making a partial payment. I would just ignore it but watch your credit reports to make sure they do not ding you for this.

Posted by
630 posts

Also would like to point out that most visitors to 'Europe' are not from America but other European countries

Posted by
1 posts

HELLO I received and paid for one violation "driving in restricted areas" caught on camera, i paid that amount $199.00. Now apparently I had another violation for the same and simply thought it was a duplicate. NOPE. it sure enough was another 2nd violation "driving in restricted areas" from 2017 ( now 03/2021 ) $199 + $250 from a local California collection agency. Any suggestions to insist I didn't get the clarity or understanding and avoid the additional local collection fees?

Posted by
24613 posts

better to start your own thread, new england tv.

That way the answers will be directed to you...

Posted by
20893 posts

3 comments -----

  1. Follow Nigel's advice. Hijacking a thread is generally in poor taste.
  2. Read my 1/12/21, 4.30 -- most likely applies to your situation
  3. Ask for proof from collection agency. Under US law they are required to provide proof of the debt.

The really big issue is that it is unlikely that a US collection agency would be successful with a judgement against you for the debt BUT they can report you to the credit agencies. That is not supposed to happen but it can be a big problem getting it cleaned up.

Good luck.