Britain signed up to a new Mutual Legal Assistance scheme in 2017, which allows authorities across Europe to request details of drivers who have broken the law abroad, and France is looking to recoup large amounts of money from traffic infractions. Of the 18 countries involved in the scheme, France accounted for 75 per cent of all the requests for UK driver details over the past five months. France obtained the details of 246,138 British motorists between February and June this year, with the remaining 17 counties only requesting details of 79,007 UK drivers combined. With the French authorities demonstrating their willingness to chase those who have broken the law, Hunter Abbott, managing director of AlcoSense Laboratories, has warned British drivers to be careful when driving in Europe.
“British drivers clearly need to be extra vigilant when driving in Europe,” Abbott said.
“They must take care not to exceed the speed limit – and carry a high viz jacket for every passenger, a warning triangle, spare bulbs, headlamp beam deflectors, a GB sticker and a single-use ‘NF approved’ breathalyser’.”
Germany is in second place for countries looking to obtain British drivers details from the DVLA, however, they only made 22,845 requests in the same five month period.
Next was Italy with 16,993 requests, Spain with 13,442 and Austria who sought details of 6,875 UK drivers.
British drivers should also be aware that speed cameras in France have a much lower tolerance than those in the UK.
According to reports most police forces in the UK set a speed threshold of ’10 percent plus 2mph’.
How to avoid being hit with huge on-the-spot fines when taking your car abroad
This means a driver is likely to only be prosecuted if they break that limit, such as going 35mph in a 30mph zones.
However, according to the AA, French speed cameras have a much tighter tolerance of only five percent.
This means in France going 53kph (33mph) in a 50kph (31mph) zone would be a breach, along with going 136kph (84mph) on their motorways, where the speed limit is 130kph (80mph) when conditions are dry.
Although you can’t get penalty points for a foreign driving offence, you can still be given a hefty fine.
And the President of the AA, Edmund King, believes the French authorities are looking to collect as much in fines as possible before Brexit happens.
“Year in and year out, UK holidaymakers driving abroad are advised to mug up on the road laws they are visiting, but too many don’t,” King said.
“Now we know from official statistics that the French police are on a mission to chase up fines from British drivers before Brexit.
“Whether you’re driving in the UK or France, if you stay within the limit, you’ll keep out of trouble.”
Many British motorists are also unaware of the emergence of many Low Emission Zones across Europe.
Such schemes are being introduced across European cities in a bid to reduce pollution, but driving in a designated zone with the wrong type of car or without the right permit could land you with a fine of more than £2000.