Car horn use risks fine of €150 in France, court warns

Sounding your vehicle horn in built up areas can risk a fine, the Court of Appeal has warned

Using your vehicle horn in a town centre in France, for anything other than a real emergency, can risk a fine of up to €150, a court has reminded drivers this week.

Drivers who beep their horns - even in traffic jams, or in frustration at the behaviour of another road user - risk a fine of €35, rising to €150 if not paid within 45 days, the Supreme Court of Appeal has warned.

Using the horn in a town centre is only allowed to alert another road user or pedestrian to immediate risk or danger. The rule also applies to anyone who might be tempted to use their horn to celebrate an event, such as a wedding, or the victory of their sports team.

It also applies outside of towns and built up areas, except on roads where using the horn could improve safety - such as on winding mountain routes, on which drivers are permitted to beep to alert other drivers to their presence.

The warning comes after the court ruled that a road user had inappropriately “sounded the warning horn in a built up area, even though no danger was threatening them, in contravention of article R. 416-1 of the road code, which does not allow the violation of public order or public calm”.

The ruling overturned a previous decision by a police tribunal, which had found that the driver in question had only used their horn in a “limited” manner, and had not “caused trouble to the public order or public calm”.

Local authorities felt that the police court had not applied the law correctly, and escalated the case to the Court of Appeal, which ruled against the original decision.

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