Committing Driving Offences Abroad: An Update

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The reasoning behind the Directive was to promote a reduction in the number of fatalities and in particular the offences that gave rise for concern the most were:

• speeding;
• failing to stop at traffic lights;
• failing to wear seatbelts; and
• drink driving.

The rationale for this was to provide an enforcement framework, in which errant motorists appreciated that there would be an increased likelihood of being traced and prosecuted for an offence committed in another EU country.  It was hoped that this would be a strong deterrent factor and one can understand why this initiative was introduced.

However, it is always important to look not just at the headline benefits but at the wider implications of allowing access to records.  We expressed concern that this information could get into hands of criminal gangs and we highlighted the Data Protection Act 1998 and its controls to prevent information getting into wrong hands in the UK.

Whilst the European Parliament passed the Directive on the 6 July 2011, it will not apply to the UK, Ireland or Denmark.  These countries have all decided not to participate in the scheme at this stage.  It is not clear what the reasoning for this was but the protection of data must have been a consideration.

However, that does not mean that UK drivers who commit offences abroad will get off scot-free.  If they are stopped for a traffic offence it is business as usual and in serious cases a foreign police force may take steps to obtain information from DVLC.

It should also be remembered that the UK and Ireland have signed an agreement whereby they both mutually recognise each other's driving disqualifications, although there are specific rules about when such disqualifications will be classed as enforceable.

The message therefore has to be keep on driving but do it safely.

Philip Somarakis

Partner

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