How do speeding fines work in France?

Unlike a UK driving licence, the French counterpart does not have points added, they are instead deducted

A police officer checking a driving licence
Driving offences can trigger loss of licence points, fines and even prison sentences.

Reader question: I am worried about getting caught speeding on French roads. How does the process work?

When a driving licence is first issued to someone in France it comes with six points, rising to 12 if no driving offences are committed in the first three years.

After this, offences can incur a loss of points: for example serious speeding or dangerous overtaking will cause you to lose three points (minor speeding is just one point) and using a speed camera detector or drink-driving will lose you six points.

Some offences can also trigger fines or, if serious enough, prison sentences. These can come in addition to the loss of points.

You can use the Télépoints service to check how many points you have left if you have a French licence – you can log in to this service using FranceConnect.

What happens if I lose all the points on my French licence?

If you lose all of the points on your licence it is invalidated meaning you can no longer drive and will need to earn the licence again after serving a driving ban.

You will have to wait either six months or one year before you can get your driving licence back which is subject to retaking your driving test in part or whole.

You will have to sign up to be re-examined via the Agence nationale des titres sécurisés (ANTS) within nine months of your licence being invalidated to retake the test.

If you had your licence for more than three years before losing all your points, or the ban was only in place for six months, you will only need to retake and pass the theoretical test to regain the licence.

If your driving ban was for one year, or you lost all your points in fewer than three years, you will also need to take a practical driving test again.

Read more: Speeding fines, older drivers: Five ways driving in France will change

Temporary licence suspension

In some cases licences will automatically be temporarily suspended (for up to one year) by the local prefecture after an offence such as driving under the influence of drugs.

This can happen even if you have points remaining on your licence.

After the temporary suspension is over, you will have the licence handed back. In some cases you will need to take a medical first – but you will not have to retake your driving test.

Read more: Post Brexit, when do Britons need to swap to French driving licence?

What if I have a UK licence?

As a reminder, those with a driving licence from inside the European Economic Area (EEA) and people with UK licences first issued before January 1, 2021, do not need to switch their licence to a French one after arriving in France.

Those with licences outside of these groups must change their licence within one year if planning to remain in France.

If you are a foreign licence holder who does not need to switch their licence and you commit a driving offence in France that would normally be punishable by deducting points from your licence you are legally required to switch to a French driving licence so the appropriate penalties can be registered.

You can do this through the ANTS website which details the steps needed to exchange the licence.

In cases where a fine is levied alongside a points deduction for minor offences it can be paid online at through the Amendes.gouv app, at certain tabac shops and tax offices, or by cheque.

If the fine is paid within 45 days of being issued it is reduced by 20% however, if it is not paid within 60 days it will increase.

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