Significant increase in British drivers fined for EU driving offences

A ‘one way’ road traffic sign is juxtaposed with the Union Jack and the EU flag hanging outside Europe House in Smith Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 10, 2017. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The number of British drivers investigated for driving offences abroad is now 12 times the number recorded just three years ago.

Research by data supplier Thompson Reuters has found that applications by foreign prosecutors pursuing UK motorists has increased significantly since 2014.

Home office statistics – obtained through a Freedom of Information request - show that in 2014, there were just 138 applications by foreign prosecutors, but last year this rose to 1,625.

Common offences include speeding and drivers running red lights, although it is not known how many of these requests for details by foreign agencies resulted in charges.

Thompson Reuters believes the increase is down to the introduction of EU laws that allow the sharing of driver details across borders.

Mutual Legal Advice (MLA) is the method of communication between different countries for obtaining assistance in the prosecution of criminal offences when the driver returns to their home country.

The directive covers eight major offences including drink-driving, drug-driving, and mobile phone use, among others.

Kevin McCormac, editor of legal guide Wilkinson's Road Traffic Offences, said: "The latest EU legislation means there are now fewer hiding places for British drivers abroad.

"Many UK drivers abroad are caught out due to being unaware of local road traffic laws, which can be a costly mistake if it results in a hefty fine or legal proceedings.

"It has never been easier for foreign prosecutors to request information to track down British drivers."

The implications of Brexit on MLA are not yet clear although Mr McCormac added: "Withdrawals [from international legal agreements] may pose challenges for both businesses and the government as the sharing of information may become more difficult."
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