Vehicle impoundment for speeding in France
Legal counsel, Official receiver
We received the following question from a viewer on our YouTube channel:
When exceeding the speed limit in France, by more than 50 kmh on the highway, can the vehicle be impounded, if the vehicle is registered in Poland and the picture was taken with a fixed radar? If so, can this be appealed somehow?
Each member country has the right to initiate proceedings and draw consequences against a driver from another country who has committed an infraction on the territory of that country in accordance with national law. This means that regardless of the laws that apply in Poland, a driver from Poland can be fined for an infraction according to the laws that apply in the country in which he or she was driving and can be fined according to the rate that applies in the country in which the infraction was committed.
However, before a foreign fine can be enforced, it must be approved by a court in Poland. For speeding offenses above 50 km/h, the fine is up to €1,500. In case of recidivism, according to French law, the offense is a crime, one of the penalties is the possibility of confiscation of the car. To enforce payment of a fine, it is not enough to simply send a notice to the offender with a payment order and an account number for the transfer. The notice with the fine should be in Polish and should be delivered by registered mail. According to the law, the foreign authority has one year from the discovery of the act to: determine the address of the vehicle owner, conduct an investigation as to the person of the offender and gather evidence, then send and properly serve the summons to the offender, prepare a motion for punishment to the Polish court in Polish and in accordance with Polish law, and file it. When filing a motion with a Polish court from abroad, there are two years from the commission of the act to conduct the entire proceedings, interview all witnesses, translate sworn documents, gather expert opinions regarding foreign devices and issue a final judgment in the second instance. On the other hand, it is up to the Polish court to determine whether, based on bilateral agreements between the countries in question, there are special provisions allowing prosecution in Poland for an offense committed abroad based on mandate proceedings initiated in the country in question.
The basis for the enforcement of fines is Directive (EU) 2015/413 of the European Parliament and of the Council of March 11, 2015 on facilitating the cross-border exchange of information on traffic safety offenses. Member states use the Cross Border Enforcement (CBE) system, which works in conjunction with the Central Register of Vehicles and Drivers to receive information about the owner of a vehicle photographed by a speed camera abroad. The exchange of vehicle registration data between member states is carried out using the European Computerized Vehicle and Driver’s License Information System (EUCARIS).
The procedure for approving the enforceability of fines is regulated in Chapter 66b of the Criminal Procedure Code. If a member state asks the state of residence of the offending driver for a ruling on fines, the ruling is enforceable by the district court in whose district the offender has property or income or has a permanent or temporary residence. Thus, a Polish driver does not have the option of appealing to a Polish court regarding the fine, he only has the right to complain. He has the right to appeal in the country where the ticket was issued, and within the prescribed period. A fine issued abroad remains a fine there, so if the offender reappears in the country where he committed the offense, he may face unpleasant consequences.
Before taking any action, however, you should first check whether you are actually listed in the ANTAI database (the French ANTAI portal https://www.antai.gouv.fr/ designed to provide documentation of traffic violations, payment of fines imposed, or appeals), because it happens that fines are given to people who have never been to France. However, if you have, then you can file appeals at this site: www.antai.gouv.fr/designation-ou-contestation/.