It has emerged that British drivers who are guilty of committing driving offences while driving abroad, may be prosecuted by the police from the countries where those offences were committed. Currently, drivers only receive a fine if they are caught by police, but the change in rules would mean that EU police would be able to access British DVLA records and chase fines through the courts if necessary. Critics have said that it would be difficult to impose because of differing driving laws, while ministers have defended UK road safety figures as being among the best in Europe.
Under the current law, foreign police forces are unable to track down driver details, and Brits driving abroad can only be fined if they are caught and stopped at the roadside by the police while in the country. Penalty points cannot be given or transferred to the driver’s licence, but this could be about to change according to new EU laws that are set to be introduced.
Initially, the new laws would mean that British drivers could still be hit with a fine. Foreign police forces would be given access to the UK DVLA database, and they would be able to impose fines on those caught speeding, jumping red lights, and not wearing seat belts.
European ministers have said that, in time, this could be further extended to include the transferring of penalty points onto British licences as well. However, some ministers have said that the transferral of penalty points, at least, would prove impossible because of the different driving laws and the different penalties imposed in different jurisdictions. They have also pointed out that UK road safety figures are among the very best in Europe and that it wouldn’t be fair to harshly penalise British drivers.
The UK had attempted to opt out of such measures, but they have been passed by the EU council, and are set to come into force next May. However, there is still the opportunity for British ministers to lobby other member nations in a bid to prevent the new laws from being passed.