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Austrian Vignette Violation

I'd like to get some advice regarding how to handle a traffic violation received two months after our return from Europe. The violation is for not having the appropriate Austrian vignette and indicates the violation was recorded by survellience video in Innsbruck. However, we purchased a 10-day vignette to cover all days visiting Austria and had it prominently displayed in our front windshield by the driver at all times. We have not seen the video, but feel this ticket is in error as we had the appropriate vignette. The downside is that we left the vignette in the rental car at the airport. I really don't want to pay the $120 Euro fine, but I also don't want to incur the $300 - $3000 penalty as indicated in the letter. If anything is charged to our credit card, we can dispute it, but without having the vignette, I'm not sure what we can prove. I would like to see the survellience video though. Does anyone have any suggestions for the best way to handle this situation? Thank you!

Posted by
6788 posts

Do you have any proof (receipt) that you purchased the vignette? Without that, I'd imagine you could start off with 2 strikes against you...

Posted by
2876 posts

It also won't scan if you place it behind the tinted glass portion of the windshield, if your car had that.

Posted by
10 posts

From what I've read online, there isn't a standard place where the vignette should be located. We placed it in the lower left corner of the windshield out of the way of any tinting. The traffic people looking for vignette's were always on our left (driver's side) so it seemed like a logical place.

Posted by
4535 posts

Is there nothing on the ticket indicating how to contest it? Generally speaking, when you contest a violation, they need to show the proof of violation, such as the photo or video you reference. But you do risk a higher penalty if you lose the appeal.

Posted by
10 posts

Unfortunately, the ticket is in German. I can pick out a few words here and there, but I'll need to find someone to translate it and see if there's any instructions regarding how to contest it. Already tried Google translator and it wasn't very helpful.

Posted by
4535 posts

To contest it, you will definitely need someone that speaks German to help you. Probably someone with more than high school German too. Not only to find out the info on the ticket, but communicating back and forth may all be in German.

Posted by
12040 posts

RE: Vignette placement. I most commonly see them placed on the driver's side or in the top center of the windshield (I stuck mine on the driver's side above the current Swiss sticker). I don't know exactly where they're required, but I've never seen one on the passenger side.

Posted by
146 posts

Cindy, Do you still have the paper that peeled off of the sticker? If you have that, it will have the serial number of the vignette. If you have a receipt, and that number, their computer will show the approx week it was purchased and you might have a chance. It would be really hard to prove your innocence without having the car vignette serial number or any record of purchase. I know it's wrong and unfair, but, you probably should just pay. Also, correct vignette positioning is shown on the back, on the peel off paper, (which you should always save with the car rental policy.) Sitting inside car, it can go on lower left, driver's side, or can go in the center, under the rear view mirror, just under the mirror attachment point. Can't go under any tinting. And must be affixed/attached to the glass, not just displayed by sitting on the dash. If not stuck to the glass, its a ticket. Was it just laying on the dash? If it was just laying on the dash, hold on, because you might be getting some more tickets.

Posted by
2193 posts

I wouldn't just pay it without trying to contest it first, especially since you believe you're in the right. Sometimes, people will ask how to avoid paying a fine when they admit their guilt on this Helpline but don't like the high penalty for breaking the law. In those cases, I say pay up. This is completely different, however. Maybe Lee or someone else here fluent in German can assist you with at least understanding what the ticket says about contesting it. A receipt might help. If you know exactly where you bought the permit and the day and the approximate time, you may be able to contact the place and see if they might have any record of your purchase. It sounds like a longshot, but if they only sold two permits that day, one at 9 am and another at 6 pm, and you know it was in the morning, then that must have been your permit. Maybe they can help by giving you the serial number...are there duplicate records when places sell these things? Maybe they have their own video of you walking into the station...who knows? Just trying to think outside of the box here. I'm assuming whoever cleaned the car peeled the permit off and threw it away, but any chance the rental car company could help somehow?

Posted by
1064 posts

I don't give much thought to receipts after I return from a trip, but, based on this, in the future, I think I will hold on to all receipts for a year after a trip. Re vignette enforcement, I thought that applied only to cars that were pulled over by traffic cops in Austria. This is the first I have heard of surveillance cameras being used for that purpose.

Posted by
2876 posts

Yep, there are automated surveillance cameras all over the Austrian toll road system. That's why the vignette has to be properly attached to your windshield and not on the dashboard or something. Cindy, if they sent you a link to the video of your violation you definitely should look at it. Even with Austrian engineering, the system might not be foolproof.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks everyone for all your advice. To answer some of the questions...We purchased the vignette with cash since it was only about 8 Euro so no receipt. We don't have the paperwork from the back of the sticker. We had the vignette positioned in a proper location on the windshield and not laying on the dashboard. I would love to take a look at the video they have of our vehicle, but the ticket was issued by snail mail via the rental car company no link was provided. Unfortunately, I don't think there's much in our favor. We'll probably go ahead and pay it and consider it a lesson learned. Thanks again!

Posted by
33126 posts

Cindy, In your case I'd ask for photo evidence. The Austrians are pretty fair and I'm sure they would provide the photo. Does the ticket provide a deadline date? Do you have a few days to play with? Can you call them? I usually put my vignettes behind the mirror but there shouldn't be a problem with them down the pillar. Was it below the tinting? Good luck, the big penalty is if you ignore it which you aren't.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks Nigel! I just requested photo evidence last night. I'm envisioning an image of our vehicle with a huge glare from the sun right where the vignette was placed. But, we'll see what we get. I'm not sure of a deadline date on the violation. I need to try and pick that out of the letter based on my limited German knowledge. It was sent mid-July and since it went though the rental car company, we didn't get it until this last weekend - already quite a bit of a delay. Yes, the vignette was posted below the tinting.

Posted by
10 posts

Yikes! I just received this email from ASFINAG. Dear Mrs. Trimble, thank you for your E-Mail. The obligation to pay the replacement toll is complied when it is within 4 weeks from the date of the invoice issued and transferred to the given account, containing the readable, complete and correct invoice number. Since the substitute toll has not reached our account within the given 4 weeks, this case had to be forwarded to the local district administrative authorities, who may fine between EUR 300,-- to EUR 3.000,-- and who will contact the owner of the vehicle with separate correspondence. Therefore it is not possible to make the payment to us anymore. We are not the right contact in this case anymore and you have to wait until the local district administrative authorities contacts you.
We are sorry, we can not give you a more positive answer and remain yours sincerely So, based on this email. Since the rental car company did not provide the traffic violation in a timely manner, would they have some responsibility in this issue?

Posted by
1064 posts

Cindy,you might want to contact the nearest Austrian consulate, in Chicago, for advice on this matter? Their address and phone number will probably be posted on the web. You won't be able to argue your case there, but someone on their staff might be able to offer better advice than any of us.

Posted by
2876 posts

With a possible fine of up to 3,000 euros, I think I'd pay the ticket and protest later. If they're in error, I'm pretty confident they'd refund you. Their website has an email address: [email protected] I think I'd write to them and ask what the procedure is for protesting a possibly incorrect fine.

Posted by
10 posts

Tom, I did email them to contest and obtain the photo of the violation in question and the response above is what I received. I've sent an email to the Austrian Consulate in Chicago and also tried calling. I'm hoping they can provide some guidance.

Posted by
146 posts

Cindy, Feeling really bad for you here. I have rented cars in Frankfurt 4, 5, maybe 6 times and drove through Austria to Italy and dropped the car off there. I never ever took one look, ever, to see if I had the proper sticker on the rental. The bad thing about this is, you did the right thing, and still got penalized. Let us know how it goes. Hang in there! Going to bed. (Been Skyping with the kids in the U.S. and almost three am here.) Crash

Posted by
4411 posts

In addition to taking photos of car damage before leaving the rental car lot, now we need to remember to snap pics of window stickers, those little time cards that go on your dashboard, how many people were actually in your car, etc... Cindy, I'm very sorry you're having this trouble :-( We're waiting to see how it turns out...

Posted by
813 posts

I vote for you calling the traffic office in Austria you got the ticket from. Surely there's a phone number on it somewhere you can call. If it's a Polizei station they'll have someone who speaks enough English to help you to the right office there. From what I've seen of the fine system in Europe (personal experience), it will undoubtedly continue to increase if you don't get on it right away. Also, I have to confirm that there are indeed detailed pictures of where to put the vignette on the vignette itself when you purchase it. It's really hard to mistake where to put it properly.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks all for your well wishes. I have yet to hear back from the Austrian violation office regarding the picture of our vehicle "without the vignette" and I have not yet received a response from the rental car company. I'm in the process of getting the ticket translated so hopefully that will help. I might try to call the Austrian violation office this week to see what can be done. I'll keep you posted as to the outcome.

Posted by
10 posts

Hi all, Just thought I'd post an ...We haven't received any charges on our credit card yet, nor have we received any communication from Austria or the rental car company. It took them two months to notify us, so I don't feel like it's been enough time to be in the clear yet. So far so good.

Posted by
7209 posts

The headaches that arise from rental cars just never cease to amaze me. I personally gave up rental cars in Europe many years ago and have never regretted it. I hope your case comes out favorably for you.

Posted by
2916 posts

I have a feeling that if you manage to get in touch with the right person or agency in Austria, it will all work out fine even w/o proof, just your explanation. But the big issue is the "if." My suggestion was going to be to pay the 120 Euros by CC and then contest it and charge it back when the bill comes and go through the appeal process. But from your later post it seems that's no longer an option. In the old, pre-Internet, pre-high tech, pre-Big Brother days, you could just ignore it, but you really can't do that anymore.

Posted by
1 posts

I had the same problem as Cindy - received a fine for not having a vignette in Austria near Innsbruck, although I bought the vignette and placed it on the windshield. The rental car company did not even send me the traffic ticket, but charged the fee directly on my credit card without notice. After disputing the charge with my credit card company, I received the penalty charge notice (as they call it) in German, which seems to be the invoice that the rental car company received from Asfinag. I did not even have the chance to protest the fee, and probably now it is too late. I have a feeling that they send it intentionally late so that we cannot protest it. Given the similar situation, I think it may be a defective camera or just some scam they are pulling on tourists. I know for sure that I will not spend any more money in that country.

Posted by
10 posts

Hi all, I thought I would follow up. Yesterday, 11/16, we finally received the ticket violation...four and half months after trip. They're asking that we pay $300 Euros for the violation. Of course, the letter is entirely in German so we'll need to get it translated. Hopefully, there's still a way to dispute the charge.

Posted by
2529 posts

I checked our records....yup, no vignette violations. Then again, zero vignettes purchased, no parking fees paid nor auto rental charges incurred....trained it.

Posted by
33126 posts

Did you enjoy thumbing your nose, Bruce? I'm surprised you didn't include a child's chant while you were at it...

Posted by
16706 posts

I would say the lesson here is one should take a photograph of your rental car with the vignette in place in case there is a need to dispute the ticket.

Posted by
11507 posts

Agree with Lola, definately one more thing to make sure you get a good picture of.. and it does seem like renting a car in Europe can be a pain in the patootey,, I am always reading about things similar to this,, I recall one in particular in Italy where a person was lost getting to their hotel in Rome and drove in circles so ended up getting mulitple tickets for driving in a forbidden zone as they went around and around looking for hotel , so in 20 minutes recievced 2 or 3 tickets!!! I know many disagree, but I really think they should cut tourists a break, WE DO here in Victoria , and yes, we need revenue as much as any other city, but we understand that tourists are often lost, don't know where to look for parking signage, don't know curb colors that may have resricted parking limites etc etc. Plus we really don't want to put people off.. its a trade off.