Drivers in Britain, Ireland and Denmark are not taking part in the initiative that will see offences committed in other European Union countries reported to the nation issuing the offender’s home country.
Eight main driving offences are covered:
- Drink driving or driving under the influence of drugs
- Racing a red light
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Not wearing a crash helmet while riding a motorcycle
- Driving on a hard shoulder
- Driving while using a mobile phone
The agreement to swap information includes 24 other European states.
Overseas drivers face an on-the-spot fine or having their vehicle seized. Any driver snapped by a speed camera will receive a bill in the post.
Penalty enforcement loophole
The system works by throwing open car registration information in each country to police forces in other countries.
With the database information, police can send penalties directly to the homes of offending motorists.
Although data sharing is standardised between nations, penalties for breaking the law vary widely.
The French government reckons around a quarter of traffic offences are committed by foreign drivers and charges higher penalties than other nations. Germany charges 10 euros for a minor speeding ticket, while France charges 68 euros with a 23 euro discount if paid within a time limit.
Drivers who commit offences in another country will pay fines but will not lose points off their licences.
The system also has no way of enforcing fines, so providing a motorist who flouts the law does not re-enter the country where the offence took place, effectively they can get away without paying the fine.
The European Commission will look at legislating to enforce fines after a two-year trial period.
And remember if you’re planning a trip to the continent make sure that you’ve got breakdown cover.