UK drivers caught in speed blitz, French owners escape

Drivers of UK-plated cars caught speeding in France are receiving fine notices in the post... but drivers of French-plated cars in the UK are still getting off scot-free.

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Kent Police, the UK force that pushed hardest for cross-border legislation to catch speeders, says it is unable to do anything when foreign cars are flashed due to differences in UK and European law.

This came to light after Connexion submitted a freedom of information request over fine numbers.

A force spokesman said: “Unlike many other EU countries, UK speeding offences are subject to driver liability: only the driver of a vehicle at the time of the offence will be prosecuted.”

A spokesman said penalty notices are sent in the UK to the registered owner of a vehicle, who must then supply the name and address of the driver.

“If they fail to do so, registered owners will be prosecuted for the offence of failing to provide the driver’s details, rather than the original speeding offence.

“This legislation cannot be enforced outside of the UK.

“Although requests could be made to another country’s DVLA equivalent for the registered owner’s details, this does not extend to the power to then get the driver’s identity, which is needed under UK law in order to prosecute for the relevant speeding offences.” As a result no fines are sent from the UK to France.

The EU cross-border offences regulation saw French authorities issue 250,000 identification requests for details of owners of UK cars in the first six months of it coming into force.

Fine notices are being sent out to the owners of UK vehicles. If they do not pay, they will be listed as non-payers in French police databases, and risk being taken to court if they are stopped in France again.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said detailed information on how many UK drivers had paid and how many had not was still being collated and will be available in a few months.

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