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Holders of UK driving licences that commit traffic offences while in other EU countries will soon have their fines follow them home, and in 2017, this may be extended so that penalty points are harmonised and applied to UK licences. However, a government minister has said that they will oppose any plans to harmonise licences, even though the DVLA is planning to bring its systems up to date in order that it can meet the 2017 deadline – other European countries are set to go live with the information sharing this year.

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said that the private data of British people must be protected and that it has always been their point to ensure that it would not be easier to prosecute British drivers abroad than it would be for foreign drivers to be prosecuted while on British soil.

A Conservative spokesperson used the opportunity to push his party’s agenda, by saying that only a Conservative government would give the people the power to determine whether the country should be a part of the EU because they were the only party that would offer a referendum on the matter. For the time being, however, the DVLA has two years to work towards a system that would enable other country’s courts to find the address of UK drivers according to their registration plate, meaning that fines, letters, and court threats could be posted to the offender.

Under the current regulations, only being pulled over by a police officer would result in a fine, and would still not lead to penalty points being awarded. Furthermore, once the driver is home in the UK it is highly unlikely that they will receive any further action.

The new rules would mean that foreign courts could determine the UK address of any offender, and send fines and court letters to that address. It would also be possible for them to take legal action through UK courts to chase payment of the fines, and in 2017 penalty points would also follow offending drivers home, which could mean that a person is disqualified for offences committed while abroad.