Drivers who receive a driving fine (PV -procès-verbal) in France can contest it if they believe it is unfair. Here is what to do if you receive a fixed fine or an ‘increased’ fine as well as details of what details you can challenge
Understand the terms: What is a standard fine and what is an increased fine?
The amount you are summoned to pay for the fine depends on when you pay.
- Standard fine: Lower amount if you pay within 15 days of the infraction; Standard amount if you pay in the 16-45-day period after the infraction
- Increased fine: Amount to pay if you do not contest or pay the fine within 45 days of the infraction
If the notice is sent to you by post, the time limit begins from the date the notice is sent, as indicated at the top right of the document.
Beware: If you pay for your fine without contesting it first, even though you believe it is unfair, your case will be closed and your payment taken as an admission of guilt, meaning you will not be able to contest it afterwards.
What can you contest?
- Whether you were the driver
- The infraction itself
- The validity of the fine
You cannot contest the fine amount.
How do you contest a fine?
You will need to follow the instructions on your fine letter, and be ready to send, in addition to your request:
- Copy of your vehicle registration certificate
- Copy of the ID of the person contesting
- Original fine document (received by post)
When should the contesting be done?
You have 45 days from the date of the infraction to contest.
- If you were stopped by police, the time limit begins from the day the offence notice is handed to the driver.
- If the notice is sent to you by post, the time limit begins from the date the notice is sent, as indicated at the top right of the document.
Security deposits when contesting
You may be asked to pay a deposit (‘consignation’), corresponding to your fixed fine amount as you lodge your contest request.
If you win the case, you will later receive a letter from the public prosecutor to present to receive a refund on the amount paid.
How can I pay this consignation?
- By cheque to the Treasury, whose address will be on your notice of offence
- By fine stamp to be attached to your request
- By credit card (for offences recorded by an automatic radar) either by telephone on 0820 11 10 10 or online: www.amendes.gouv.fr
When will I be required to pay a consignation?
You will likely be required to pay if your fine relates to:
- Excess speed
- Non-respect of security distances
- Lack of lane discipline
- Non-respect of a stop sign
If you are contesting the fine because your car or licence plates were stolen, you will not have to pay this deposit.
Paying a deposit is not considered the same as paying the fine and will not result in the loss of points from your licence.
Is it the same process for an increased fine as well as a standard fine?
The time limit for contesting an increased fine is 30 days, rather than 45. If the fine comes from an automatic speed camera check, the time limit is extended to three months.
Higher fixed fines for which a deferred payment or postponement request has been made cannot be contested.
How to contest an increased fine
If you received the initial fine (before it was increased), there are three options:
- Contest via registered letter, enclosing the original notice of the fixed fine
- By letter addressed to the public prosecutor (address on the fine)
- Online on the ANTAI website
If you did not receive the initial fine because you did not declare your change of address within the time limit, you can:
- Send the original notice of the fixed fine
- Plus any document proving that you have since confirmed your change of address to the vehicle registration service.
The driver will then have to pay the initial fine amount, rather than the higher sum.
You will also need to send:
- A handwritten letter explaining the dispute
- Deposit cheque for the amount of the fixed fine
- Original of the official report
Websites and links to help you contest fines
- The ANTAI website with advice on how to contest a fine (in English)
- The ANTAI website page showing the range of fines and possible point deductions
- Telephone number for contesting speed camera/radar fines: 08 11 10 20 30 (0.05€/min + cost of a normal call)
- Telephone number for contesting electronic fines: 08 11 871 871 (0.05€/min + cost of a normal call)
It comes as one man in northeast France recently chose to contest an alleged fine after police mistook his hearing aid for an illegal hands-free phone earpiece.