Departures are not enough

This is how expensive traffic violations abroad can be

16.05.2024 12:27

A vacation is usually well calculated in terms of finances. Traffic fines can add a surprising amount to this if you are traveling in your own vehicle or in a rental car. Traffic offenses are sometimes punished more severely abroad than in Austria. The ÖAMTC has compiled an overview.

Not only the penalties can differ, but also the traffic regulations, warns club lawyer Verena Pronebner. In principle, the following applies: "What is taboo at home should also be taboo abroad."

Prison sentence for alcohol
Anyone who drives too fast, parks incorrectly or is under the influence of alcohol in popular vacation destinations can face heavy fines, vehicle confiscation or even imprisonment. "There are drastic consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol," warns the legal expert. "In Italy, driving under the influence of alcohol of at least 1.5 per mille even results in the vehicle being confiscated", at least if the driver and owner are the same person.

In Spain, a blood alcohol level of 1.2 per mille can result in a three-month prison sentence. Generally speaking, if you exceed the blood alcohol limit (usually 0.5), you are liable to high fines - in Germany, Italy and Spain, for example, this can be upwards of 500 euros.

Traffic fines and blood alcohol limits at a glance - click to enlarge! (Bild: ÖAMTC)
Traffic fines and blood alcohol limits at a glance - click to enlarge!

Sometimes horrendous fines for exceeding the speed limit
You also have to dig deep into your pockets for breaking speed limits. Speeding or speeding is particularly expensive in Scandinavia - if you exceed the speed limit by 20 km/h, you have to pay at least 620 euros in Norway, from 215 euros in Sweden and at least 200 euros in Finland. In Italy, exceeding the speed limit costs at least 175 euros, at night even a third more.

"If you don't park your vehicle properly, you don't get off cheaply in some countries. In Spain, you can be fined up to 200 euros for parking illegally," warns Pronebner. "Not only parking in an unauthorized place, but also without a ticket can be expensive: Club members are still receiving claims for around 200 euros because they parked without a ticket in Croatia years ago. Therefore: be sure to inform yourself on site."

Time is money
"If you receive a fine abroad, it is generally most efficient and cheapest to pay it on the spot," recommends the lawyer. In some countries, considerable discounts are also granted if you pay quickly: in Spain, for example, only half the amount is due if the fine is paid within 20 days. In Italy, a discount of 30 percent is possible if the fine is paid within five days of notification - however, if the fine is not paid within 60 days, the fine amount is doubled.

Private debt collection companies collect fines
Outstanding fines from other EU countries can be compulsorily collected in Austria. Therefore, foreign parking tickets should not be ignored under any circumstances. It is also possible to claim the fine when re-entering the vacation destination.

In order to improve safety on European roads and to punish traffic violations across borders, EU countries are already working closely together in the area of vehicle and owner data exchange. The revision of the corresponding EU directive will make it easier to automatically query vehicle owners for other offenses such as hit-and-run or dangerous overtaking from 2026. "One positive aspect of this new EU directive is that private (debt collection) companies will be completely prohibited from helping EU countries to collect fines from 2028. We very often receive inquiries from members who receive late payment toll claims from Italy from debt collection agencies. With the new directive, the toll must be paid in arrears, but the sometimes high processing fees charged by the collection agencies will no longer apply," explains Pronebner.

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