Dozens of drivers are being called to appear before French courts and being handed fines of €400 on average after trying to pass on speeding penalties to other people by saying they were driving at the time of the offence.
As well as asking friends and family to be named, some have even created false identities in order to avoid losing points on their licence (in France you lose points, rather than gain them, for infractions).
The authorities have also discovered that certain drivers have been posting appeals on social media, offering to pay €50 to anyone who agrees to be named and take the points loss.
Last week, 10 people appeared before the police court in Narbonne over the course of one morning alone, having been accused of engaging in such fraudulent activities.
One student, who had been caught speeding on three separate occasions, had “accepted an offer from a friend” who wanted to help her avoid losing her licence.
Another driver had used the same false identity four times: that of a man living in Belgium, who had had 845 French speeding penalties sent to him.
Another person had their name used 1,300 times by drivers looking to avoid speeding penalties.
Police commander Michel Mouret said: “This must stop. We need to send a strong message,” and recommended a €400 fine for all 10 cases.
“The people named [as drivers] are people who exist, who are often foreigners (Turkish, English, Belgian, Malaysian, Spanish or Moroccan) and who we will supposedly not be able to trace,” he added.
However, when the same identity is named in the system many times, the Agence nationale de traitement automatisé des infractions (ANTAI) speed penalty processing body is alerted.
“I call these people to attend a hearing in person, and I am strict with my requisitions, which are very often upheld by the judge.
“What people do not know is that when they are convicted, they can also be charged with ‘providing incorrect or inexact information regarding the driver of a vehicle involved in an infraction,’ which is a class five offence, punishable by a fine of up to €1,500.
“And those who provide the [false] identities can even end up in the magistrate’s court.”
Even after the 10 cases had been resolved last week, a further 50 were still waiting to be seen.
“We must put an end to this and remember that the people who receive the fines exist. This practice is dangerous and must stop,” Commander Mouret added.