Next month, the principle of cross-border law enforcement is put into practice when EU member states have to share information on drivers relating to traffic offences.
The Cross Border Enforcement Directive gives European governments the power to access information on the owner of an offending car.
It covers eight offences: drink-driving, drug-driving, jumping red lights, forbidden lane contraventions, mobile phone offences, seat belts, not wearing a helmet and speeding.
It is understood that more than 23,000 foreign-registered vehicles escape speeding fines in the UK each year, depriving the Treasury of £2.3 million annually.
Leaving aside the fact that £2.3m is a tiny drop in the English Channel compared to our current deficit problems, the Directive sounds like a reasonable idea for dealing with offenders.
There’s just one little fly in the ointment: some EU drivers committing certain offences in this country will escape punishment, which raises a few questions about whether the new law is really cross-border at all.
The RAC says the problem lies with differences in member state laws around whether the driver or the registered keeper of the vehicle is responsible following an offence.
For example, in the UK the driver of a speeding vehicle is held to blame and faces punishment, but in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and France it is the registered keeper.
According to the RAC, this means a French person caught speeding in the UK could get away with the offence if they were not the registered keeper of the vehicle concerned – because the French equivalent of the DVLA can only pass details of the offence to the keeper.
This may make prosecution extremely hard for UK authorities.
It also means that any UK driver caught speeding in France in a vehicle that doesn’t belong to them might escape a fine as well, as it would only be the registered keeper in the UK that is pursued by the French authorities.
In addition, the RAC says it has been advised by the Department for Transport that there is no transfer of penalty points to UK drivers’ licences for speeding offences committed abroad.
It’s all sounding a lot less like cross-border enforcement and much more like cross-border chaos, which is quite an achievement given the law in question has, for once, nothing to do with Brexit.
If you have committed a motoring offence contact our specialist motoring solicitors for advice on 0800 046 3066