Rising number of UK motorists chased for foreign driving offences

Rising number of UK motorists chased for foreign driving offences
Rising number of UK motorists chased for foreign driving offences

A growing number of UK motorists are being investigated for overseas driving offences such as speeding and drink-driving, according to new data.

Figures obtained by news and data provider Thomson Reuters show there has been a significant rise in the number of requests for driver details from other countries.

A total of 1,903 such requests were made in 2017, up 17 per cent on the previous year.

Such requests are generally made to allow authorities to investigate offences such as speeding committed by a UK-registered car.

Information sharing

Previously, unless they were stopped at the roadside, UK drivers could essentially escape punishment for driving offences committed abroad because local police could not access their information once they returned to the UK.

Since 2015, however, a system known as mutual legal assistance (MLA) has allowed prosecutors in EU countries to request assistance in criminal inquiries.

Read more: Driving abroad: what you need to know

Police in Europe no longer have to catch you on the spot to punish you for breaking the law. (Picture: Shutterstock)

This includes requesting driver details from the DVLA and Northern Ireland’s DVA in order to pursue motorists suspected of offences such as speeding, running red lights, using a handheld mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt.

Unlike the UK, where police must issue a notice of intended prosecution within 14 days of an offence, some European countries allow police up to a year to issue a fine or other punishment.

No let-up

Kevin McCormac, editor of Wilkinson’s Road Traffic Offences, said: “The use of cross-border information requests has upended the legal risks of speeding abroad – foreign prosecutors can and will hunt you down.

“British drivers can expect no let-up as more and more foreign prosecutors make use of the legal frameworks at their disposal.

“It can be tough for British drivers abroad as they are unlikely to know the finer details of local road traffic laws in other countries and, as a result, it can be very easy to be caught out.”

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