Wheels24

Holiday fines to find your home

2012-06-20 06:43

The UK's Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) is aiding foreign authorities to track down British drivers who commit offences while abroad. According to the DailyMail, each month 2500 UK drivers are contacted with fines issued by authorities in Europe.

The DVLA earns R32 for each inquiry, totaling about R972 000 a year. Many British drivers targeted are likely to be returning from holiday and unaware they have been accused of breaking laws.

They are tracked down by a private company based in Britain that pays the DVLA for driver information.

FOREIGN-REGISTERED CARS FLOUT LAWS

Critics said the system was unfair as drivers in foreign-registered cars seemed to avoid punishment, while British drivers are tracked down once they get home.

A spokesman for the UK AA said: "There is nothing worse than having a penalty notice follow you home from abroad. Certainly we know that foreign-registered cars in the UK can flout the laws without too much worry because most councils find it hard if not impossible to follow these through.

"UK drivers don’t see why drivers of foreign plated cars should get away with many parking and other offences whilst they stump up for offences in UK. They feel it is a bit rich that other countries are happy to send UK drivers tickets in the post yet do not send enough back," the AA said.

Figures from the DVLA showed it handed out driver information in 83 000 cases between April 2009 and December 2011 or more than 2500 every month.

A data collection company, Euro Parking Collections (EPC), provides information for 150 EU-based authorities, including in Italy, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Hungary, Norway and Sweden. Under data protection laws, driver information cannot leave the UK, but EPC gets around the rules because it is based in the UK.

Average fines are estimated at R324, meaning British drivers rack up R9.7-million in fines a year.

Cars with foreign number plates escaped paying R46-million in speed camera fines in the UK each year.

A DVLA spokesman said: "The DVLA does not release driver and keeper information to non-UK authorities to deal with parking enquiries or speeding penalties.

"However, a company called Euro Parking Collections, which is based in Great Britain, makes requests of DVLA for the registered keeper details of vehicles to pursue cases of parking contraventions on behalf of public sector authorities in EU member states," the DVLA said.