Join Date: Jun 2006
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Notification of EU driving offences cross border. Stopped
Drivers are going to have to become familiar with a new directive. But not just yet. Sorry if I drift into legalese. There has been stuff posted on here about the new notification directive, BUT the EU Court of Justice has struck it down.
The directive applies to these offences speeding, non-use of a seat-belt, failing to stop at a red traffic light, drink-driving, driving under the influence of drugs, failing to wear a crash helmet, use of a forbidden lane and illegally using a mobile telephone, and allows automatic access to the UK vehicle registration data.
This is potentially of importance to the UK drivers who venture abroad.
The road traffic offences directive was annulled,on the ground that its legal basis was wrong.
However, the directive has been maintained in force (unlike the data retention directive) for a year to allow it to be re-introduced on the correct legal basis.
The history is this. The European Commission introduced the directive in the first place on the legal basis of Article 91 of the TFEU (road safety). The Council, eventually supported by a reluctant parliament - which wanted to bring the matter to an end after three years of negotiation - passed it on the basis of Article 87 TFEU (police co-operation). The Commission then took the matter to court.
You may wonder what difference this makes, to the UK.
Well, the UK has an opt-out from Article 87 (police co-operation), and so the directive has not so far applied to the UK. You will not be surprised to learn that the UK intervened in the case - along with a few others, it must be said - to argue that Article 87 was the correct legal basis after all. But now that Article 87 has been shown to be wrong, and the directive is going to be re-introduced on the correct basis (presumably Article 91 – road safety, from which the UK does not have an opt-out), anyone committing cross-border traffic offences is eventually going to have to watch out.
So what does the annulled directive do? It sets up a procedure for the exchange of information between member states in relation to eight road traffic offences (speeding, non-use of a seat-belt, failing to stop at a red traffic light, drink-driving, driving under the influence of drugs, failing to wear a crash helmet, use of a forbidden lane and illegally using a mobile telephone). The member states can access each other’s national data on vehicle registration in order to determine the person liable for the offence.
However, it is not as far-reaching as the Commission originally wanted. In particular, the current directive has no provisions on what should be done if the offender simply decides to ignore orders for payment. ie Fines cannot be enforced cross border nor penalty points, disqualifications or endorsements. But a new proposal could change that. When the member states altered the legal basis during the adoption process, they threw out a section dealing with legal proceedings for infractions and possible sanctions.
As a result, the current directive does not guarantee sanctions, but only mutual access to vehicle registration data.
It is unlikely that the Commission will introduce controversial new measures now to address this gap in the new directive, since it would probably not then pass in the 12 months allowed. But we can expect such measures in the future, now that the legal basis has been settled. And those new measures will apply equally to UK drivers elsewhere in the EU, and to EU drivers in the UK.
Apparently 5% of drivers on EU roads are from another member state, other than their home state but they account for 15% of traffic offences.