I have just come back from a ten-day riding break in Spain, which I can highly recommend – Malaga has some fantastic roads. But I have come home to a nasty souvenir, a €50 fine for speeding.
I have clearly been caught in a radar trap. I have heard so much conflicting information from different people that I am unsure what to do with it.
Lots of people have told me that I can simply ignore it, because the Spanish police cannot do anything within the UK jurisdiction. Other people have said pay it just to avoid any hassle – and my wife is convinced that if I ever set foot in mainland Europe again I will be carted off to jail if I don’t pay. Also, once we Brexit, will these fines have any impact at all? I am planning on going back to Andaiucia next year. Will Brexit make it more difficult?
Pay it! Now that I have told you to pay it, pay it as soon as practicable. You will not be locked up if you go to Spain but your wife has the right idea, albeit dramatically. It has entered biking folklore that you can simply ignore foreign tickets: you can’t; or at least you can’t ignore tickets issued in the European Union, while we remain in the EU.
By an EU-wide agreement a local fine, if unchallenged, becomes payable, if it isn’t paid, the fine is sent on to the local agency – in this case, the DVLA – which will deploy its enforcement officers, who are usually Magistrates’ Courts Officers. The longer that you leave it, the more steps are taken end in the worst case that I have seen, a €100 fine escalated up to just shy of £1000 – so pay your €50. On the positive side, no points go on your licence.
As to what happens after Brexit, I cannot tell you, A ‘crash-out’ will probably mean no fines, as they are enforceable under an EU treaty. While this may sound like you’ll be able to tear across Europe without worrying about fines, many European police forces have the power to seize a foreign vehicle for even minor traffic infringements and without a method of enforcing fines on a UK driver, they are more likely to use that power.
If we have a Brexit with a ‘run-off period, I would hope for at least a couple of years of things staying as they are with mutual recognition of licences and insurance and also, mutual recognition of fines. However, this is by no means certain. I really would not like to speculate how a no-deal Brexit would impact on motorcyclists traveling to the EU, but there is a pretty clear fall-back position; the 1968 Vienna Convention. Riding your own bike in Spain will certainly be possible under this, which was used before the EU and governs non-EU traffic in the EU. However, we might need separate insurance and potentially an international driving permit.
But the shape of any rules will be outside of the UK government’s power if there’s a crash-out Brexit; it will be up to the EU whether it accepts UK licences (it should as it’s currently a Euro licence); but I think insurance will require a Green Card for us in Europe (and for EU drivers coming to the UK). It will be more of a hassle to get to the EU by bike but it won’t be impossible. However, Germany and Portugal are not parties to the 1968 Convention, so I would avoid travel on your own bike there until things are clearer.
If things go horribly pear-shaped, we may be required to buy local insurance on some borders. This is what happens upon entering Morocco (a member of the 1968 Convention) if you do not have pre-existing cover for Morocco but it is not terribly expensive. How good the insurance is, I have never tested. One thing to ponder; my current insurance certificate insures me right across the EU including about four months post-Brexit so I am not sure if the insurers have actually considered the impact of a crash-out, or hard, Brexit.
RiDE Magazine November 2018