Speeding fines in France for UK drivers depend on the car they were in. The rules differ between hire cars and UK-registered motors. We’ve had questions on both.
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What happens if I get flashed by a French speed camera?
After Brexit, the rules changed on whether fines for UK drivers caught speeding in France (and other EU countries) could be enforced in the UK.
After the UK left the European Union, the 2015 EU Cross Border Enforcement Directive no longer applies.
The result is drivers flashed by a speed camera on a French road trip won’t be fined because French authorities can no longer track them via their car’s registration back to the UK. Those rules are the same whether the driver was caught speeding in France, Germany, Belgium, Holland or Italy.
Before Brexit, French (or any other) speed limit enforcers could request driver details from the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Automated fines were then sent to drivers in the post. French authorities had up to 100 days after the offence was committed to post the fine out.
What happens if you get caught speeding in France?
When we say ‘caught speeding’, we mean if a British driver is handed a physical speeding ticket in France, perhaps after being snapped by one of the many speed camera cars. In this case, you’re likely to receive an on-the-spot fine. The amount of these spot fines varies depending on how fast you were going.
Is France strict on speeding?
France is becoming increasingly strict on speeding. Fines for speeding vary, depending on how much you exceed the limit by.
Exceed the speed limit by 50km/h (31mph) and it’ll be €1,500 (£1,305).
If you’re 20-50km/h over, the fine will be €135 (£117).
It’s the same fine if you’re breaking the limit by less than 20km/h (12mph) when the limit is less than 50km/h.
If you’re less than 20km/h over the limit when the limit is more than 50km/h, the fine will be €68 (£59).
Do speeding fines affect your UK licence?
If you get stopped for speeding by a police officer, you will be fined on the spot – unless they’re feeling very charitable – and that will be the end of it. You will not get points on your driving licence for speeding in France.
How long will France be unable to enforce fines?
Being unable to enforce fines on drivers from the UK is apparently costing the French treasury around €60 (£52) million a year. It is therefore keen to set up a bilateral arrangement with the UK. This would be similar to the one France has with Switzerland.
If the French can’t fine us, we can’t fine French vehicle owners (or any other EU or foreign drivers) who speed in the UK. But we couldn’t before Brexit either.
This is because law in EU countries entitles authorities to go after vehicle owners who’ve broken the law. But as the UK was/remains a sovereign nation, we’ve chosen to apply the law differently. We punish the drivers of cars who’ve broken the law. If the authorities can’t prove who was driving, they can’t levy the fine.
What about French road signs for speed cameras?
The French are remarkably civilised when it comes to warning drivers about speed cameras. On fixed cameras they give ample warning, usually with a road sign a couple of hundred metres ahead of the camera.
They’re not so thoughtful about mobile cameras. Police with radar guns frequently hide in laybys and beneath motorway bridges. Their colleagues up the road, often at a toll station, will then pull the driver over and inform them of the motoring offence they’ve committed and hit them with the fine.
Can you use sat nav warnings?
In France it’s against the law to use any kind of device that warns of speed camera locations. If your sat nav has that function, you should disable it before you go to France.
Do you have to pay hire car speeding fines after Brexit?
Another reader went to France in August. Six weeks after getting home, he received two speeding fines because, unknown to him, he’d triggered speed cameras in his hire car. He will probably have to pay this because the hire car company will receive the speeding fine and want to pass it on.
When you sign your rental agreement at the point of hiring the car, the small print will say that you are responsible for any speeding or other traffic fines that are incurred during the term of the agreement.
The hire car company may forward the fines onto you so you can pay them. Alternatively, they will pay the fine, then deduct the money from your credit card. They will have the details of this in case you damage the car while it’s in your hands.
What if you don’t pay?
Two things will happen. First, the fine will grow in size. As in the UK, there’s a healthy discount for paying within a certain time limit in France. The second thing is the hire car company will eventually take the money from your credit card and they’ll probably levy a hefty ‘admin’ fee for the hassle.
If you don’t pay the fine and for whatever reason the hire car company doesn’t take the money from your credit card, you’ll almost certainly end up on a database of people the hire car industry doesn’t want to do business with going forwards.
What we would do
The old saying ‘if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime’ springs to mind. We’d just accept that we’d messed up and take it on the chin.
If you pay the fine, there will be some short-term pain and it’ll go away. Ignore it and it’s a bit like ignoring toothache. It’ll nag away at you until you have to do something about it anyway.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.