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Trafic ticket

Last September we rented a car and drove through Germany, Switzerland and a small portion of Austria, it is now April and we are getting tickets from these countries, some for speeding and some for not paying a toll fee, in the amount of 300 euros and one for 600 euros. We are very upset at this and are considering not paying them, the amounts are ridiculous, has anybody had a similar experience, and what do you recomend?

Posted by
21733 posts

Well, did you do those things or not? Not paying a toll fee is pretty obvious. And, of course, speeding. The general advice is -- if you did the crime, pay the fine. If you don't pay, no one has any good advice as to what might happen. The Italians recently have turned some over to collection agencies. While some argue that they do not have a legal right to collect via the courts, that does not prevent them from putting it on your credit records. However, that is only a concern if you need a good credit score in the future. Use the search box above for traffic tickets. You will find lots of decision on this subject. Europe tends to use a lot of camera so your are probably guilty and take their traffic laws very seriously.

Posted by
8293 posts

Pay the fines and be done with it. You drove too fast and you did not pay some tolls and you got caught. If foreigners come to your country and get ticketed for whatever infraction, would you not expect them to pay up?

Posted by
8650 posts

Given the amounts you mention, I would not be surprised if he police agencies turned it to over to a collection agency, if you do not make payment.

Does the number of tickets you received match the number of charges the rental car company put through on your credit card as the 'research fee'?

Did you tell the rental company where you were going when you picked up the car? Both Austria and Switzerland have a requirement for a 'vignette' to use toll roads.( i.e. the major highways). If the car did not have them and you did not buy them as you entered the country, it is not surprising you have hefty fines for not paying the tolls.

Hopefully your misfortune will serve to alert others to do their research about toll roads and drive like there is a cop in the back seat.

As for others with your type of problem and early post suggesting using the 'search' box at the top of the page will produce hours of reading material on the subject.

Posted by
4480 posts

When you're in another country, you have to follow their laws. By your logic, you would only pay fines that were cheaper? That logic wouldn't work in the USA, either. Next time, see if you could take some of their excellent trains, so you don't need to think twice about speeding & toll fines.

Hope the rest of your trip was great!

Posted by
5591 posts

I recommend you pay your tickets.

It's no different from getting a ticket here. Yeah, it's no fun, and obviously this isn't what you want to hear. And yes, when driving in a foreign country it's even easier to miss some things, but it's always your responsibility to know the laws and abide by them or face the consequences, whether at home or abroad.

If people from Germany, Switzerland and Austria came to where you live and got speeding tickets, didn't pay for tolls on toll roads, and got caught, would you expect them to get off free because they think the price of the tickets are ridiculous?

Pay your tickets and be more careful next time. Consider it an education.

Posted by
7205 posts

And next time consider taking the wonderful trains. You won’t get toll charges or speeding charges.

Posted by
2722 posts

Speeding tickets I understand. But why wouldn't you pay a toll?

Posted by
1325 posts

Phillip

See above, Switzerland and Austria do not have toll booths on their roads. When you enter these countries you must buy a "vignette" (a window sticker) and place it on your car window.

Posted by
1122 posts

Is the rental company billing you or the jurisdictions or a collection company. It should be coming from the rental company because how else would the jurisdictions or collection agency know it was you. I would ask for detailed documentation, date, time, location, infraction, etc.

Posted by
3689 posts

I hope anyone who plans to rent a car and drive in Europe finds this thread.

This isn't the first time I've seen drivers post about fines that turned out to be generated by speeding and by not not getting vignettes for the countries that require them. However, these fines are the largest I've seen.

It's too late for you, but driving in a different country isn't the same as driving back home, no matter where home might be. If you're going to rent a car, researching the appropriate driving rules and regulations is mandatory.

One of the best resources for learning about all that is the free, downloadable 16 page booklet, What you should know about renting a car in Europe at the Gemut.com website.

Pay the fines and chalk it up to the cost of the trip. This is a very expensive lesson to learn, but the fines are what they are. BTW, the fines for Switzerland should be in CHF (Swiss Francs), not EUR (Euros). Anything from Austria or Germany will be in EUR. If you've received nothing in Swiss Francs yet, the worst may be yet to come. We got a small fine for speeding in Basel that took over 2 years to get to us. At the time, the cost of sending the fine to the right place was higher than the fine itself.

The links below might help you understand how and how much you were fined.

This link has some decent info on how you'll be fined if you don't have a vignette in Austria.

This one about Switzerland is a bit more vague.

This link is for driving in Germany and includes info on fines.

Scroll down in this link for speeding and other fines in Switzerland.

I couldn't find a decent similar list for fines in Austria.

Posted by
4673 posts

Ignorance is no defence.On my first time driving in Austria I was unaware of the requirement for a vignette. We rented the car from Munich but didn't tell the agent we were intending on driving to Salzburg so he had no reason to advise us about a vignette. We received the fine for €90 and paid it without fuss.

You've incurred a number of fines through ignorance, why you think you shouldn't pay them because they're too high is beyond me.

Posted by
613 posts

If you are going to drive across EU, you MUST study the web sites on "driving in ...." for every country you will be in. Both Austria & Switzerland require all "foreign" cars have a widow sticker certifying you paid a flat toll to drive there. The last time I drove in Austria (2009) the toll was $17. Switzerland started this in the late 1980s when it was $25. Although we had spent several summers in Switzerland & would love to go back, ceteris paribus, , that toll made me so mad that we have ever since boycotted the country.

The counties involved probably didn't bill you directly, but billed the renata car Corp who charged you because they have your credit card. I doubt the car Corp or your bank will cut you any slack. Your one chance my be this: If you relied on planning your trip on some published book or (a weaker case) on some website & they didn't warn you about these tolls, you may be able to recover the cost in small claims court.

Posted by
114 posts

Why you think it's unfair puzzles me. You broke the law, and you got a fine. Maybe you didn't know about the vignette, which is an understandable mistake, but not an excuse. The amounts you mention indicates that you have been either breaking the law on several occasions or you have been driving at lethal speeds.

I don't doubt that you're upset. If I had to pay EUR 900, I would be upset too. But remember that you are nowhere near as upset as the victims would be if you injured someone because you were speeding.

If you're old enough to break the law, you are old enough to face the consequences of that. Pay the fines.

Posted by
21087 posts

Why on earth do people rent cars and drive in foreign countries without consulting the "Driving" chapter of a guidebook or a reliable website?

Posted by
8889 posts

Both Austria & Switzerland require all "foreign" cars have a widow sticker certifying you paid a flat toll to drive there. . . . . Switzerland started this in the late 1980s when it was $25.

kb1942, Not quite correct.
1) It is not a requirement for "foreign" cars. It is a requirement for all cars (and motorbikes and goods vehicles).
2) It is not a "toll to drive", it applies to motorways only (Autobahn / autoroute / autostrada)
3) The Swiss Vignette costs CHF 40 for 1 year (not $25, they don't use $ in Switzerland)

"that toll made me so mad that we have ever since boycotted the country." - I don't understand that. You would have paid more in tolls in countries which have conventional "per Km" tolls, like France and Italy. And your fuel costs would have been more than that.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for all your opinions, in my defense i must say we did not check any information on driving in Europe, we had heard there were no speed limits and just went with that. Regarding the toll ticket, i want to clear up it was because of the sticker they require, we got one for Switzerland, but not for Austria.
The reason I wanted your inputs is because we were concerned it could be a scan.

Thank you all very much.

Posted by
8293 posts

Good for you for coming back, after all the scolding, mine included. No speed limits, eh? Someone who had never driven in Europe told you that, I expect.

Posted by
4673 posts

we had heard there were no speed limits and just went with that

What did you think those round signs with numbers on them alongside the roads meant? You know, the same type you see at home?

Posted by
13106 posts

The real problem is thinking it is a “defense” to rely on what they “heard” (no speed limits in Europe) and not “bother” to check the actual laws.

When I was a college student studying in Germany in 1967, we also “heard” there was no speed limit on the German Autobahn. I never personally tested that; I was the designated driver for my roommate’s new VW until she learned to drive a manual transmission, and I stayed off the Autobahn.

But times have changed, and most of the Autobahn has posted limits, along with all the secondary roads. One is well-advised to learn about the signage and the rules. This article is informative:

https://www.german-way.com/travel-and-tourism/driving-in-europe/driving/autobahn/driving-on-the-autobahn/

Posted by
4673 posts

What did you think those round signs with numbers on them alongside the roads meant? You know, the same type you see at home?

JC, thats the problem. US speed limit signs look like this -
-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limits_in_the_United_States_by_jurisdiction#/media/File:US_Speed_Limits_May_2015.

Yes, I know. I've been driving in the US for over a decade, it took me no time to recognise sped limit signs, it's really not difficult whatever country you're in.

Posted by
18313 posts

we had heard there were no speed limits and just went with that

Thanks. This is the most amusing post I have heard in a long time.

Posted by
11289 posts

"we had heard there were no speed limits and just went with that. "

A polite suggestion - don't believe everything you "hear," or you're going to be in bigger trouble than a few speeding fines!

Posted by
6649 posts

it took me no time to recognise sped limit signs, it's really not difficult whatever country you're in.

I once rode with a fellow American in Germany who was sure that those funny round signs were the minimum speed on the autobahn.

Posted by
70 posts

The only country that have roads with no speed limit is Germany. And in Germany, only the the Autobahn has no speed limit, and the Autobahn is only speed limit free if no speed limit is posted, thus only approximately half of the German Autobahn network is without speed limit. Austrian motorways (also called Autobahn) have a general speed limit of 130 km/h, in Switzerland, the general speed limit is 120 km/h on motorways (Autobahn, autoroute, autostrada). Both Austria and Switzerland require a vignette (toll sticker) for use of their autobahns.

Posted by
4684 posts

There are very rarely minimum speed signs in areas where people might be tempted to drive too slowly - they're white-on-blue, like other mandatory signs in Europe.

Posted by
109 posts

In California we have FastTrack. Once we used the Carpool lane without a FasTrak as a carpool. I called up FastTrak got the transponders for the car and they waived the $25 fee if we agreed to put down $25 for the account which we did. So we made a mistake but now we are compliant with the devices and now we know how it works.

I agree with knowing the laws of other countries. Do you think a European visiting California entering a FastTrak lane would not be subjected to fines? Or an American visiting Italy.

I agree pay your fine if its indeed your fault. I am sorry if you feel like you can just get out of paying it. Maybe the agency reports you to a Federal Agency who may ban you from traveling into Italy without paying the fine.