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ECJ cancels EU traffic law

European court ruling means UK drivers will soon face fines back home for traffic offences committed in France

UK DRIVERS visiting France will be fined back home for traffic offences, such as speeding, while on French roads.

But the measure will not come into force for at least another year, after the European Court of Justice ruled that a law the UK had opted out of must be redrafted in such a way that it will apply to all 28 EU member states.

Currently, UK drivers caught breaking French traffic laws can be penalised while in France, but not once they have returned home.

Britain, along with Ireland and Denmark, had opted out of a law that came into force in November, which permitted police in member states to share information on drivers who commit traffic offences while in another EU country.

Now, however, the European Court of Justice has cancelled that law, ruling that it was founded on an inappropriate legal basis - namely police co-operation rather than road safety.

The law which relates to eight traffic offences - speeding, non-use of a seat-belt, failing to stop at a red traffic light, drink-driving, driving under the influence of drugs, failing to wear a crash helmet, driving in a forbidden lane and illegal use of a mobile telephone while driving - must now be redrafted.

And, because the court ruled it must be revised in line with EU treaty transport provisions, the new law will apply to all 28 member states.

In a further decision that has surprised motoring lobby groups, the court also said that the existing law, which doesn’t affect British motorists because of the opt-out, can remain in force for another year while the new law is drafted.

Rémy Josseaume, of L'Automobile Club des Avocats, said: “This is contrary to the principles of the law. It is as if we had repealed the death penalty, but heads continued to roll.”

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