In May, we reported on how French authorities had issued a sudden glut of historical speeding fines to UK-based drivers, even for offences up to year old. Now, following a freedom of information request to the DVLA, we can understand why this has happened.
Prior to May 2017, there were unlikely to be any repercussions for UK-based drivers flashed by fixed cameras as vehicle registration data was not shared with counties across The Channel. Thereafter however, a change in the law meaning cross-border requests for registered keeper details could be made. According to the DVLA though, French authorities didn’t commence data exchange via the Cross Border Enforcement service until January 31, 2019 – almost two years after it was permitted to do so.
Since then though, the French authorities have filled their boots. According to the DVLA’s latest figures, they made 43,586 requests in February 2019, but this spiked to 104,161 requests in March. This would add credence to the theory that the plethora of fines is because authorities wanted the fines settled before Britain leaves the EU originally due to be March 29, when the cross-border data sharing could’ve potentially been severed. We only have figures for April up to the 18th, but pro-rata over a whole month the amount of fines has more than halved to 53,600, further backing up the theory that there was a pre-Brexit rush.
So why have so many British drivers been issued with fines? One reason is the controversial reduction of the 90kph speed limit to 80kph on secondary roads in July last year, which has caught out drivers unaware of the change and led to a rise in the amount of alleged offences. Outside of built-up areas, anything from 1-19kph over the limit means a €45 fine, and for 20-39kph it’s a €90 penalty.
In theory, the rate of alleged offences should fall as British drivers become more aware of the new limits, and for now, the rush to issue fines before Britain leaves the EU has lost its urgency. However, it’s expected that France will have 4700 cameras by end of 2019 – not allowing for any damages by Gillets Jaunes (yellow vest) movement – so the problem isn’t going away. You could ignore any fines, but you run the risk of an increased fine and travel difficulties if you try to return to the country. For the thousands of UK drivers heading over to France in their classic cars this summer, the message to watch your speed is clear.