April 22, 2015

Speeding Fines in France

Please Note: This is an old post (2015) and since Brexit, the cross border enforcement of motoring offences is no longer in force. Though France and the UK are speaking about a deal just between the 2 countries.

See our page about "Speed Cameras in France" for the latest details.


With changes to the "cross border enforcement" directive, the chances of getting a speeding ticket in France have increased dramatically! Do you want to take that gamble?

The new rules are coming into force regarding speeding fines etc while driving in France and it means that you will get a fine to pay if you go racing through a speed camera while on holiday in the not-too-distant future.

Currently, if you go flying down the AutoRoute’s in France and you get flashed by a speed camera as long as you are in a UK registered car the French authorities don’t bother sending you a ticket, but that is going to change.

Of course it can be difficult knowing exactly how fast you are going if your car's speedo is in MPH and the legal limits and road signs are in KPH so you might want to consider one of our Speed Converters here.

What is cross border enforcement?

Plain and simple it means the pursuit of traffic offenders in a vehicle that is registered in any EU country even when the law breaking takes place in a different country to the one it’s registered in.

It will make it easier to cope with the difficult cross-border problems posed by drivers speeding, not wearing seat belts, drink driving, using a mobile phone etc.

The Directive outlines an automated approach across the whole of Europe, so that will end all negotiations of new bilateral agreements, everyone is signing up to this.

Where are we now?

Basically, everyone is already in agreement with fining drivers from other EU countries apart from the UK, Ireland and Denmark. However, we have only been issued with an extension and we have to come into line with everyone else from May 2017.

What has brought this on?

The European Commission’s figures show that tourist drivers throughout Europe account for just fewer than five percent of the cars on the road yet account for fifteen percent of the speeding offences.

The problem is MUCH worse in France where speeding offences committed by Non-French drivers accounts for a quarter of the total annually and nearly half during the peak holiday season.

They believe that it 3x more likely that a “foreign” car in France is going to break the law than a French one and they are rightly annoyed about it.

So the answer to the question "what happens if I get caught speeding in France" is; if you go through a fixed speed camera in France then the French police will not start sending fines in the post until 2017 but if you are stopped by the police at the road side even now you will get an on the spot fine and potentially even worse than just a fine depending on your speed in excess of the limit.

Once this new cross border co-operation comes into force even fixed speed cameras will result in a fine as one will be sent in the post exactly as it would in the UK. So, speeding in France from 2017 onwards will carry the same risk of prosecution as it does in the UK. 

It’s not just speeding

 Apart from speeding the new EU directive also covers not wearing a seat belt, traffic light offences, drunk driving, driving while high on drugs, motorbike riders not wearing a helmet, using the hard shoulder, bus lane offences, ignoring road work lane closures, using a mobile phone (only allowed with a fully fitted Bluetooth kit) or failing to stop at a mandatory stop signal. (see our road signs page here)

Basically, if you get caught on camera committing a motoring offence the fact that the police don’t stop you there and then will not save you in future.

What if you were not the driver?

The fine letter you receive will have a reply form in it and that allows you to tell them who was driving. In the UK failing to name the driver is a far more serious offence than the speeding, so don't try this as I'm sure the French will take a dim view of it also.

Car hire?

UK holiday makers who go for a “fly drive” vacation have always been liable for fines when driving the hire car illegally. It's usually in the small print of the rental agreement but it is standard practise that the money for the fine is automatically charged to the credit card that was used to hire the car and/or pay for the deposit. See our car hire tips here.

Are we being targeted unfairly?

Last year, the AA said there was evidence to support the fact that French police target UK drivers because they have a disproportionate number of speed cameras on the roads to and from the Channel ports.

That may be true but when UK drivers get off the ferry at Calais quite a few seem to drive like the lights have gone out at the start of a Grand Prix at Silverstone. As many drivers know they can currently ignore speed cameras they often drive like complete idiots. 

How much are the fines?

Throughout the EU the fines will be charged by the country where you commit the offence and will therefore be the fines levied by that country not based on ours here in the UK. So make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for or don’t speed or run a red light!

In France the faster you are going the higher the fine. In built up areas, fines are set at €90 from just one kph over the limit up to 39kph over.

On other roads, including auto-routes, they are as follows.

When speeding 1kph over to 19kph over the fine €45 and 20kph to 39kph it’s a €90 penalty.

When 40kph to 49kph its €135 and in excess of 50kph over limit €750 and your car can be confiscated to the police compound!

In Summary

If you don't break the law while driving in France, then you have nothing to worry about. I would never advocate law breaking and I strongly urge people to just relax and take their time while driving in France, but no matter what I say boy racers will disregard the rules of the road in any event.

If you want to drive down the hard shoulder or in a bus lane or race through speed cameras or traffic lights, then you better do it before May 2017 or it is going to cost you!


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