Driving offences abroad – a guide to fines in Europe

Driving offences abroad – a guide to fines in Europe
UK holidaymakers heading across Europe this summer should research local driving laws before they travel – or risk eye-watering fines of over £5,000.

While laws are fairly consistent across the continent, the actual fines attached to offences vary significantly and, in some countries, could leave your travel funds severely depleted.   

From driving without a seatbelt to using an illegal sat-nav feature, we take a look at some of the most common driving offences and their punishments across Europe.

European driving offences

Mobile phone use

Against the law in the UK and across Europe, using a mobile phone behind the wheel is extremely dangerous and police forces are increasingly cracking down on the issue:



The most common offence in the UK is also an issue across Europe, although check local regulations before you travel and always remember to adhere to signs on the roadside.

For information, these are the fines for traveling at 71km/h in an urban area where the limit is 50km/h. On other roads and at other speeds, fines will vary (click on country name for more details):


Drink driving

In all six countries, the drink drive limit is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (which is the same as the limit in Scotland, although in other parts of the UK it’s 80 milligrams).

However, rules are often stricter for commercial drivers or those who have recently qualified, so check before you travel or, if it doubt, stay clear of alcohol completely when driving.

Belgium€179 minimum
France€135 minimum
Germany€500 minimum
Ireland€200 minimum (and a three-month ban)
Netherlands€300 minimum
Spain€500 minimum

Not wearing a seatbelt

Even if you’re driving a few hundred metres you should always wear your seatbelt to ensure you stay safe, and avoid one of these fines:


Speed camera detectors/jammers

Although legal in the UK, devices that tell you the location of speed cameras (even if a built-in feature of your sat-nav) are illegal in some countries and could see you pick up a fine.

Jammers that ‘block’ the signal from police speed cameras are against the law in the UK and many other countries, and using one could see you slapped with massive fines:

BelgiumIllegal – no fixed penalty
GermanyIllegal – no fixed penalty
IrelandIllegal – no fixed penalty
Spain€200 (detector) €6,000 (jammer)

Do I have to pay a fine from another European country?

Many UK motorists think they’re immune from being fined or prosecuted if caught breaking motoring laws in other European countries, but this isn’t true.

Since May 2017, the EU Cross-Border Enforcement Directive has allowed enforcement authorities to pursue and fine drivers of vehicles registered in other EU countries.

This means whether you’re caught driving without a seatbelt in Spain or speeding in Belgium (even during a one-off trip to Europe) you can still be fined and prosecuted back in the UK – so stay on the right side of the law at all times.

Copyright Press Association 2019. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

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