I got two hire car speeding fines in France. Do I have to pay them after Brexit? What happens if I ignore them?

hire car speeding fine

Our reader went to France in August. Six weeks after getting home, he received two speeding fines after, unknown to him, triggering speed cameras in his hire car. We explain what he should do.

Do you have to pay hire car speeding fines after Brexit?

That depends on the kind of car you’re driving. If you’re driving your car and it’s UK registered, unless a policeman catches you on the spot, you won’t have to pay anything. This is because the Cross Border Enforcement Directive between the UK and the European Union came to an end when the UK left the EU.

If, on the other hand, you’re driving a hire car, there’s every chance you’ll be fined. That’s because the hire car company will get the speeding fine.

How the law works in France

Get caught speeding in the UK and the law says that the driver of the car is responsible. If the authorities can’t prove who was driving when the offence was committed, they can’t issue a fine. In the eyes of the French authorities the owner of the car is responsible whether they were driving or not so they will get the fine.

hire car speeding fine
In French law the car owner is responsible for fines rather than the driver (Picture©GEM Motoring Assist)

What if you receive a speeding fine driving a hire car in France?

The hire car company will get the speeding fine. They will then pass this onto whoever was driving the car. 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 infringements that occur 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 promptly 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.

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