French Speeding Ticket

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Dec 11, 2014
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We rented a car in France in October 2014 for 3 weeks. During that time we had an accident, which has been totally settled by our credit card company. (Many thanks to Chris and this forum for helping us get the documents we needed.)

As far as I can tell my business with the rental agency is complete. They have been paid in full and I have been reimbursed.

Today I got in the mail what I assume is a speeding ticket. It is a formal French document and did not come from the rental agency. It is very hard to understand despite the fact that my wife is fluent in French.

In any case, it appears I was clocked at 118 KPH in a zone where the speed limit was 110 KPH. The ticket also says the penalty is for speeding between 20 and 50 KPH over the limit. I was 8 KPH over the limit (about 5 MPH).

The fine is 45 Euros if paid within 45 days of the incident. This has already been missed. The fine increases to 68 Euros if paid within 76 days. I am currently 60 days or so. So, it would seem I owe them 68 Euros (around $90).

As I said I confess we are not totally sure we understand the form correctly, but believe we do.

I have a few questions:

1.) I am not sure why I got a ticket at all, as it seems I was 8KPH over the limit, which is within the margin allowed.

2.) I haven't heard anything from the rental agency. Are they out of the loop on this ?

3.) Should I pay it ? What happens if I don't ?

Given the communications barrier, it seems impossible to get any further information about this or to debate it in any way. They did include a form to contest it which involves going to a Paris court - not an option.

I would appreciate any advice, especially from anyone who has received such a ticket in France.

Thanks,

Larry Kaplan
 
Last edited:
Dec 11, 2014
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Upon further study (and translation) of the document:

The speed limit was 110. I was clocked at 118. After adjusting for allowable margin, my speed was reduced to 112. So, I was speeding. Because it took 2 months for the ticket to reach me I am further penalized for paying late.

So, kiss 68 Euros goodbye. Yes, I paid it. I do have to say they made it very easy to pay with a English language web site.

I feel paying it is the right thing to do. Also, they in theory could have my passport information which might cause troubles for me in the future.

So, yeah....

What I am most upset about is that I was aware of the automated speed control systems and was very careful about my speed. And, as noted, I was going 5 MPH over the limit, which was enough to trigger a fine.
 

Grant Ritchie

Dependable adequacy :-)
Oct 1, 2014
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#3
Dear Mr. Kaplan,

If your credit card hasn't been billed for the ticket, and the rental company isn't dunning you, then you don't have to pay. But you could be arrested if you ever visit France again.

If you don't ever plan on returning to France, you can ignore the ticket. They're not going to come to America for you. However, if there's a chance you might visit again, I'd suggest taking care of the ticket as soon as possible so the penalties don't continue to accrue, and an arrest warrant isn't issued.

You also might wish to contact the French Embassy in DC, or one of their ten Consulates around the country. Here's a link:

Good luck.

Grant
 
Dec 27, 2014
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#4
Larry -

I hope you had a great trip even with the accident (and no one was injured) and now this ticket.

I am going to respond in a hypothetical in how a speeding ticket works in the UK. I do not have any direct experience in France, but from what I understand their system is pretty close to the UK system, that is if they don't actually pull you over.

In my previous job, I was a fleet manager so I have a pretty good understanding of the UK system.

I have a few questions:
1.) I am not sure why I got a ticket at all, as it seems I was 8KPH over the limit, which is within the margin allowed.
2.) I haven't heard anything from the rental agency. Are they out of the loop on this ?
3.) Should I pay it ? What happens if I don't ?
1 - In the UK (as in the US) they can give you a ticket for anything over the speed limit but you generally get about 5 miles over, but in the UK I have seen tickets for 3 miles over.

2 - The rental agency most likely would have provided you details to the authorities, but are not required to notify you. I used to get speeding notices all the time for my drivers. I would fill in the details and send it back to the police who would then get in touch with the driver directly to take care of the fine and adding the points. Most rental agencies will also charge a processing fee for any tickets they receive, so you may see another charge to your card.

3 - It is tough to say what will happen if you do not pay. I would of course suggest you pay it if you are not able to dispute through the normal process. I would also suggest you contact them to see if you can pay the lowest amount due to the time it took for you to receive the ticket. Once you pay it that should be the end of it.

I know its not a good surprise once you trip has been over for so long, but look at the bright side, it should not affect your Insurance or add any points to the license.

I hope that helps and I am happy to answer any other questions you may have.

Dan
 
Sep 22, 2014
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#6
As a retired attorney who concentrated in the area of criminal law (prosecution and defense) I hate speeding tickets. Their original purpose of vehicle safety has been over shadowed by the neo modern purpose of a source of more revenue for government. As a practical matter that means you are less likely to win any contest of guilt. This may be the one universal truth that creates a multi-cultural global commonality. (There's more than a grain of truth to my waxing humorous).

I'm happy, for your sake, that you have put this open issue to rest. But, I thought I'd share some thoughts with our readers and for you if you have similar problems in the future.

I always pay the ticket ASAP but cover all my basis to prevent any reporting of the occurence to anyone inlcuding the Motor Vehicles Division of my home state or where my insurance carrier can find it. If I received an out of state or out of country traffic citiation, I would contact the out of state court clerk or the country's nearest Consulate offices to learn the best way to enter a plea and pay the fine that permits no permanent public record. The name of such a methodology varies from state to state and country to country. (Illinois: supervison, Florida: suspended sentence, Republic of Ireland: dismissal, etc)

Most importantly, always get a receipt for payment and statement of final disposition on government letterhead and keep it in a safe place.

John