Traffic fines

Back in September 2006 I wrote a post about how to settle those pesky speeding/traffic fines you may end up with either during or after a stay in Italy. I did not imagine that my little post would end up being viewed more than 2500 times and commented on around 100 times, but it has, and this seems to indicate that there is something of a problem.

Well, guess what. Someone from the European Parliament has been having a look at my post. Now, I did know that one of the commenters was planning to write to an MEP, but I had not heard anything more. So now, possibly, something may start happening and that something may even be done to clarify the situation – at least in so far as convincing those who receive the fines that they are indeed genuine and not, I hope, part of some elaborate scam.

If anything develops, I’ll let you know.

IMPORTANT UPDATE 17 February 2010

Revised: 18th February 2010

Reader Peter has very kindly drawn my attention to the called EC -v- Italian Republic, case no C-224/00.  The text of the case which is available in English and other European languages, can be seen here:

Judgment of the Court (Sixth Chamber) of 19 March 2002.
Commission of the European Communities v Italian Republic.

Failure by a Member State to fulfil its obligations – Article 6 of the EC Treaty (now, after amendment, Article 12 EC) – Difference in treatment of persons contravening the highway code according to the place of registration of their vehicle – Proportionality.

In essence, it does look as though the fines European Union citizens have been receiving are, and always have been invalid.

Again, I would reiterate that I am not a lawyer, so I cannot be sure, but I would repeat Peter’s suggestion that if you are a European Union resident and you have received a fine more than 210 days after an offence, you should write back quoting case no C-224/00, and saying you will write to MEPs etc about this.  If this does not get the Italian authorities off your back – then speak to a lawyer (class actions are possible in Italy now -and I know a good firm of lawyers too!).

In summary – if you received a fine for any motoring offence after 210 days, and you are an EU citizen, you may be able to refuse to pay on the basis of C-224/00.

End of 17 February 2o1o Update

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Comments

  1. Ryan says

    Hi Alex

    I have received a notice of payment from Nivi Credit for 199.15 (speeding fine) plus 0.68 postage to cover there postage cost. I haven’t received a direct violation notice however from the local authority. Am i right in thinking I do not have to pay this unless I receive an official notification within a year of hertz supplying them with my info? Which was Oct/2011.

    Any hep would be great!

  2. Simon Morgan says

    Today, 23/09/11 I received a fine from Pisa for circulating in a restricted zone at Pza Toniolo Giuseppe – the date of the offence was 25/10/10, over 300 days later! There seems to be no adequate signage and I wonder what is going on!

  3. Mascha says

    Does anyone have experience with regards to using the C-224/00 210 days argument? Mine is past 210 days but under 360 days. This is the only site mentioning it. I do not want to appeal, because if it’s denied I have to pay double. Can I just send an email emo or does that have consequenses (same as appeal)? Who can help me?

    • Al says

      Hi Mascha,

      An appeal based on C-224/00 will get you nowhere.
      Please read this post: http://italychronicles.com/speeding-fines-in-italy/.
      - The information at the top of the page (Section 2 – General background)
      - August 5, 2010 at 11:33 am comment.

      EMO is just a private company, a collection agency mandated by an ever increasing number of Italian Municipalities to collect fines from foreign drivers.
      Sending such an email to EMO is pointless.
      The Appeal Authorities are either the Prefect or the Justice of the Peace.

      Best,

      Al (not Alex)

  4. ACN says

    From the US Department of State website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1146.html#traffic_safety

    “U.S. citizens driving in Italy are reminded that they must adhere to the local driving laws and regulations. Vehicle traffic in some historic downtown areas of cities and towns throughout Italy is limited by a system of permits (called “ZTL” and functioning the same way as an EasyPass system in the United States might on the freeway). Cameras record the license plates of cars driving in parts of the city that require a permit. Although most of the automated verification stations are clearly marked, if a driver passes one it is impossible to know at the time that a violation occurred or has been recorded. Violators are not pulled over or stopped, and there is no personal contact with a police officer. Whenever possible, the fines imposed for these violations are forwarded to the driver’s home in the United States to request payment. The fines are cumulative for each time a driver passes a control point. A similar system of automated traffic control cameras is in place in many parts of the highway system and is used to ticket speeding violations.

    U.S. citizens driving in Italy should also note that, according to Italian regulation, if a resident of a non-European Union country (e.g. the United States) violates a traffic law, the violator must pay the fine at the time the violation occurs to the police officer issuing the ticket. If the citizen does not or cannot pay the fine at the time, Italian regulation allows the police officer to confiscate the offender’s vehicle (even if the vehicle is a rental vehicle). ”

    Can this be interpreted as meaning that, according to Italian regulation, non-EU residents have to be fined (and pay up) immediately for traffic violations?

  5. Syd says

    Hi,
    I just received a fine from Pisa for circulating in a restricted zone at Pza Toniolo Guiseppe ( date of offence was 9/9/2008 ) and its 20th feb 2010 now! the car was on hire from avis and i live in the UK! can I quote C-224/00 as to why I shouldn’t pay the fine! I’ll never visit Italy again!
    Thanks.

    Syd

    • says

      Hi Syd,

      If I were you, I would quote case C-224/00 at them (give them the link too), as well as threatening to tell MEPs, politicians, the Vatican, and whoever else you think might get these people of your back.

      Before now nobody had much ammunition, now though, there is some hope. I’m hoping to hear from someone else who has used C-224/00 as grounds for an appeal. Go for it, and watch this space!

      Best,

      Alex

      • Anna P says

        Hi,
        I too received a fine in Feb 2010 in relation to a speeding offence back in June 2009.
        I was driving a hired car at the time.
        I am not sure if I can contest paying by quoting case C-224/00
        I cannot find any information in this document that mentions fines received more than 210 days after an offence

        At the top of this Blog, someone mentions the following:
        “If you are a European Union resident and you have received a fine more than 210 days after an offence, you should write back quoting case no C-224/00″

        Any advice would be much appreciated
        Thanks
        Anna

        • says

          Hi Anna P,

          If you are passport holder of any country in the EU, then you can try the C-224/00 approach as long as the time between the offence and you receiving the notification is longer than 210 days.

          “If you are a European Union resident and you have received a fine more than 210 days after an offence, you should write back quoting case no C-224/00″ – I wrote this on the basis of what I’d been told by another reader who found case no C-224/00.

          What you can try doing is writing back claiming that the fine issued is now invalid and therefore you do not need to pay. However, you need to bear in mind if you lose, the fine may increase.

          As I point out, I am not a lawyer, so my suggestions are no more than that – suggestions. You really need to seek legal advice. You could try a contacting a consumers’ association.

          Best,

          Alex

          • Julian says

            I am so confused. Last week I received 4 fine notifications (110 Euros each!) at home in New York for a drive through Florence on May 5, 2009. You mentioned a 360 day time limit. Since these notices came to me in the mail in July 2010, has the time expired? If so, how would I deal with these?
            A million thanks.

            J

          • Julian says

            Can you also remove my last name from the posting?!?! Thanks. – Done! Alex – Sometimes comment moderation can be handy! ;)

  6. Graeme Andrews says

    I have recently had three letters from the Italian police wanting €115 x 3 for traffic zone in Pisa, the car hire told the police in September 08 and now it is Jan 2010. Am I right that the 360 days are up and I do not have to pay? Can anyone help. Thanks Graeme

    • Lisa says

      Hi Graeme Andrews,

      I also have received 3 fines from the Italian police for €115 each. All from the same street in Pisa (Via Roma). They have provided a link in the letter to a website where there are 3 images of the reg plate. I dont know what to do. The date of the offense was 30th Sept 2008. And yet I am only receiving the fines now.
      Have you managed to get any more info on this ? Should I pay them… ??
      Cheers.

  7. francois says

    hello charlie,
    Indeed I am living in Canada not EU anymore.
    I found the copy of my contract and it is specifically written on it” Service Delayed charged: I acknowledge and accept from now on all expenses (fuels, deductibles/excesses, fines, dammages, extra) detected or found after the drop off of vehicule and I authorize the car rental company to charge them on my credt card” and I signed this document..
    the weird things are: this rental company (Auto europa) charged me on my CC 50 euros per fine already to forward the fines to the police who sent me 1.5 year later the translated version.
    If I dont pay, can they really charge my CC again??
    Why wouldn’t the yhave done that initially?

    francois

    • stefan says

      Hi Francois,
      I am also living in canada just received my fine 1.3 years later just like to know if you paid or did not pay your fine and what could happen if I did`nt .thank you

      stefan

  8. Charlie G. says

    Hi Francois,
    Thanks for your post. Sorry about your tickets. Are you going to pay the fines?
    Your name sound French. If so you may be stuck with EU reciprocity between EU countries.
    As a US citizen, I am tempted to ignore mine, if I ever receive them. A 1-1/2 years is a long time for them to expect you to pay.
    Let us know what you decided to do.
    Charlie .. near Washington DC

  9. francois says

    dear charlie,
    I dont think that they can use your credit card to pay the tickets. The auto agency has used it to pay the processing fee but you should expect and wait to receive the tickets translated in english from the municipale police at you home adress. It took 1.5 year to reach me. now I received them (today indeed) , two for driving in a ZTL withintwo hours, one before the dinner the other one after dinner, total 230 euros…

  10. says

    Hi Charlie,

    Happy to hear about the great holiday in Italy, less so about the fine.

    When you say ‘Authority’ which authority do you mean? Where were you when the alleged offence took place? Please let me know.

    The service or admin fees are standard and there should be something about this in the small print often on the back of the car rental agreement.

    You may also find more info from this long post and 300 odd comments:

    http://italychronicles.com/speeding-fines-in-italy/

    Kind regards,

    Alex

  11. Charlie G. says

    Had a great trip in Italy this summer, but the honeymoon is over… I rented car in Florence in July 08.
    I just received four individual letters from AutoEuropa stating that I had received fines from the “Authority”. AutoEuropa is charging me 30 euros for each violation. I think this is a service fee. A friend told me that I will be receiving charges to my credit card from the “Authority” for the actual fine. I don’t know if this is for real or a scam. I would appreciate any help.

  12. says

    Alastair – I’m very pleased to hear that you sorted this out.

    I have heard of fines like this being sent out. A friend was caught a few years back – the fine showed the registration number of his car, but the model of car was a Mercedes – he had a Ford Sierra in those days.

    It is not beyond the realms of possibility that registration plates are ‘cloned’ here from time to time. This may explain your odd fine.

    At least you had the photos to prove them wrong – although it sounds almost as if the police were aware of cars with cloned number plates driving around the Como area.

    Many thanks for letting us know how you resolved the problem, and I hope your report will help others.

    All the best,

    Alex

  13. says

    Hi Peter,

    Your hypothesis had crossed my mind too – only I had dismissed it initially on the grounds that such a plot would be too difficult to set up and run.

    However, after reading all the complex Italian scams in the press here, I’m starting to wonder whether the Pisa thing could be a scam too – as I mentioned before.

    Still, I don’t know if there is enough evidence to contact the Italian police and ask them to investigate – even if they would. The Italian police – there are two law enforcement bodies here – would probably turn round and say ‘pay the fine’.

    Pisa may be a scam or maybe it is not.

    Alex

  14. peter overgaard says

    Hi Alex Roe
    It looks like a con to me. The Photo which I saw some 2 weeks ago only showed the license plate. To- day the link won`t work (?) A hypothetis: If somebody in the car company gave photoes of their car licenseplates to somebody in the policeorganization (e.g. accounts department)it would be possible to send false fines. Afterwards the accounts could be fiddled with (as the account numbers probably are the correct numbers of the Pisa Police).
    My suspicions to the whole thing increased when one of our friends got a very similar fine – on the same road in Pisa!
    I should like to hear your comments of the two fines. I have taken a photo of them and tries to send them without reduction in pixels. (But I have not tried sending pictures on af blog before.)
    Best regards,
    peter

  15. says

    Hi Peter (and Alex), this is very interesting.

    I should update my story – I continued to dispute it and contacted the British Consulate in Milan. To my surprise a consular assistant got back in touch and was quite helpful – her email is Emanuela dot Pessina at fco dot gov dot uk (email address edited to reduce spam) – and she asked me to fax all relevant documents to her. She then contacted the Como police and said to fax the documents to them. This included photos of us taken on the date in question outside recognisable monuments in Orvieto.

    A couple of weeks later I actually got a letter to my UK address from the Como police saying charges were dropped! And I was even more surprised when Europcar then also refunded the charge (they had previously said that under no circumstance would it be refunded).

    So persistence works, don’t let them get away with it!

    Good luck,

    Alastair

  16. says

    Hi Peter,

    Things are moving on the MEP front, and other wheels appear to be turning too.

    Keep an eye on this blog for developments.

    I’m still not sure whether the Pisa thing is a con – it could be, but proving this is not going to be at all easy.

    All the best,

    Alex

    PS – could you send me the photo of the Pisa Via Roma photo to contact at blogfromitaly dot com. I know someone else who got a fine in this spot – it would be interesting to see how the photos compare.

  17. peter overgaard says

    Dear Alastair
    I have a similar problem: A fine of 113 Euros for driving in authorized area (Via Roma) in the center of Pisa. The car was hired through AVIS. There is a photo on the internet showing only the car license plate, – you cannot see driver, place or time. I will not pay the fine. I think it is a fake.
    A friend of ours who was in Pisa last year – also in a rented car got a similar letter with a fine – just like ours. The letter is dated 19/8 2008 – my letter is dated 20/8 2008. We are both said to have been in Via Roma! A remarkable coincidence?
    At another place in this blog somebody notes that an EU politician intended to do something about the Italian “fining-systems”. It is high time to do something, I think.

  18. Alastair says

    Regarding traffic fines and possible scams, You may be interested in my current predicament.

    After a honeymoon to Umbria in October last year, we’ve just received a parking fine from the police in Como. They got our details from Europcar, since we had possession of the hire-car in question on the alleged date of the violation in the town of Corrido. The thing is, we never went to Como – remaining about 300 miles away in the Orvieto area for the whole time.

    Europcar charged me €36 admin, and the Corrido police then sent me with the fine itself of €42.60. So this is costing me €78.60.

    I’d pay it if there was any possibility of it being true, but there isn’t. Europcar say I have to pursue it with the police directly. But I have asked them to check their records to see if anyone else took the car to Corrido around the same time.

    To take it up with the police, I wouldn’t know how to start. The closest thing to proof that I have is photos of us in Orvieto on that day (date marked in the digital exif data) Any advice how i can get to the bottom of this?

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