EU puts breaks on traffic fine dodgers

PEOPLE with cars registered elsewhere in Europe will not be able to escape speeding fines and other offences in the Balearics for much longer.

Twenty per cent of traffic offenses in the Balearics are committed by foreigners, but each year more than 11,000 fines to non-Spanish go unpaid.

But the European Parliament has approved new legislation effective by 2013 to make cross-border traffic offenses easier for Member States to swap information, so that the fines reach the offender. Foreign nationalities make up 22 per cent of the population in the Balearic Islands, but since many of the offenses are committed by tourists, the authorities say it is practically impossible to track down offenders to ensure fines are paid.

Both 2009 and 2010 each had about 11,000 fines given to non-Spanish nationals in the Balearics and this figure has increased so far this year, according to the Traffic Department. Most of the fines which are left unpaid are for speeding offences, as these are detected by speed cameras and notices are sent to the car’s registration address, which if the person is a foreigner cannot be accessed.

The EU directive will force the authorities in the offenders country of registration to communicate the driver details including name and address to the EU country where the offense was committed.

Immediately afterwards, the country will send a letter to the offender in their language reporting of the offense and the amount of the fine. The driver’s country of origin can either pass the information to the country were the offense occurred, but cannot impose a penalty themselves.

This collaboration will apply to most offenses except parking fines. European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas, responsible for Transport said. ” We know that a foreign driver is three times more likely to commit an offence than a resident driver.” “These new rules should have a powerful deterrent effect and change behaviour. Many people still seem to think that when they go abroad the rules no longer apply to them. My message is that they do apply and now we are going to apply them.”

By Nicole Hallett

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Euro Weekly News Media

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