UK drivers being pursued by foreign police over unpaid speeding fines: Report

Cars arrive at the port for the ferry to Dublin, in Holyhead, Anglesey in north-west Wales on October 8, 2018. (AFP photo) An increasing n...

Cars arrive at the port for the ferry to Dublin, in Holyhead, Anglesey in north-west Wales on October 8, 2018. (AFP photo)

An increasing number of British motorists are being pursued by foreign police forces over unpaid speeding fines, a report says.

A new system, which the UK signed up to two years ago, enables police officers to prosecute drivers in other countries, The Telegraph reported on Monday.

This means that British drivers can be prosecuted even when they have left the country where they committed an offence.

Thanks to Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), foreign police can pursue any driver suspected of a range of safety based offences, including speeding, drink driving, not wearing a seatbelt, running a red light or using a mobile phone at the wheel.

Under the MLA system, a foreign police force can ask the UK authorities for the driver’s information and then the Driver and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) must provide them.

It was formerly estimated that up to half a million UK drivers went unpunished for speeding each year in France alone, because they believed once they were back home they were untouchable.

However, last year, Britain received almost 2,000 requests for information about its drivers from other countries, which showed an increase of almost 20 percent compared to the previous year.

According to Thomson Reuters, which conducted the analysis of MLA statistics, the steady rise in the number of requests showed a growth in willingness among prosecutors to investigate and determinedly pursue foreign drivers.

The system has also improved recently because of ever improving technology such as sophisticated roadside and mobile cameras.

Kevin McCormac, editor of Wilkinson's Road Traffic Offences, said: "The use of cross-border information requests has upended the legal risks of speeding abroad - foreign prosecutors can and will hunt you down.

"British drivers can expect no letup as more and more foreign prosecutors make use of the legal frameworks at their disposal.

"It can be tough for British drivers abroad as they are unlikely to know the finer details of local road traffic laws in other countries and, as a result, it can be very easy to be caught out."

In many countries, there is a system of on the spot roadside fine, which makes escape impossible.

However, in recent years, countries such as France have markedly increased the use of private companies to deploy unmarked radar enabled cars across the country to spot speeding drivers.

For civil offences such as parking fines, debt collection agencies can be used to recover the money.

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