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Old 24.01.2010, 15:19
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Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

Hi everyone,

Apologies if this has been discussed already. I have spent the last couple of hours searching the forum, but couldn't find anything which matched my situation exactly.

The rental car I was driving, was flashed in France during April last year, doing 58 kmph over the speed limit (130) on the highway. I was not aware of it at the time, nor am I sure if I was the one driving. I rented cars almost every weekend around then, and lots of times, friends came along too.

For those who would like to remind me about road safety: I agree with you; I am a very careful driver and have all sorts of speed alerts on my GPS to prevent ever going over the limit. The only time I remember driving like mad was once when someone urgently needed a restroom break and the next rest-stop was 40 km away. (I suspect this might be the source of the speed camera flash referred to above )

Anyway, I received a letter from the Swiss (GE) police last December, requesting my presence at the local gendarmerie. They asked me if I was the one driving a car with XXXXX number plates in France on the day in question. I told them that if the rental company had given them my address, then it must have been me who rented the car; however I am not sure if I was the one driving on that given day. I also saw the pictures they had received and it is not possible to see the driver or the inside of the car clearly.

They took my details and a photocopy of my license and told me that I'd be contacted by the French authorities.

Now for the question: Has anyone been in a similar situation? Will the French only send a fine, or try a "meeting" in a French/Swiss court with license suspension et al.?

Thanks,
Guy who drives like a snail now...
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Old 24.01.2010, 15:27
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

I have (luckily) no personal experience like yours, but 58kph over the limit is serious enough to warrant further action. I have been "blitzed" a couple of times in France in a car with either Swiss or UK registration and have heard nothing. In your case in a French rental car I suspect the case is not yet closed.
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Old 24.01.2010, 15:44
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

To clarify: the car was a Swiss rental from GE, with VD number plates. That's also one of the reasons for the letter arriving so late, I guess...
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Old 24.01.2010, 16:09
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

The penalty in France for breaking the speed limit by over 50kph is: €1,500, plus 6 penalty points, plus licence suspended for 3 years.

If it's your second offence they could put you in prison for 3 months.

The French authorities may also deem your "not sure if I was driving" as failing to co-operate, so be careful there - they could get nasty and impose a steep fine of up to €3,750.

The Gendarmerie are well known for taking drivers of foreign cars who speed on French roads into custody for 1 or 2 days while they check out their identities and criminal records.

Do you know who the French Cop in charge of your case is? All speeding tickets in France must identify the officer. A ticket will have been issued to the Swiss Authorities You can call their office and ask for details if you speak French - don't try it otherwise).

There is a bilateral agreement for this sort of thing between France & Switzerland, so - unless something unusual comes up - I can't see why they would wave the fine and licence suspension - for your case.

Good luck anyway!
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Old 24.01.2010, 16:26
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

Thanks james_w.

I haven't received a "ticket" yet or been served any papers (except a letter from the Swiss police asking for a meeting, as explained earlier).

I've resigned myself to paying the fine and not getting into the "who was driving" argument anyway.

The only thing I'm unsure about is whether the French authorities can enforce a suspension on the Swiss license of a Swiss resident. Are you suggesting their Swiss colleagues would do it for them, as a result of the bilateral agreement?
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Old 24.01.2010, 16:30
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

You said "........... nor am I sure if I was the one driving. I rented cars almost every weekend around then, and lots of times, friends came along too", by that, are you saying that lots of friends also took turns driving the car you rented? Or that your friends also took the car out by themselves?

Were you always with the car is another question you should address.

However in my opinion if you were doing 50+ over the limit, or your friend was (while you were besides him/her), you pretty well must remember it. Claiming temporary dementia will hardly improve your case here or with the authorities.

If you did not include additional drivers when you rented the car, you may look at yet another infringemnt of the law.

Swiss - French have recently upgraded their cooperation level for auto fines etc., so if I were you I would get ready for almost anything.

Good luck.
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Old 24.01.2010, 16:32
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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Thanks james_w.

I. Are you suggesting their Swiss colleagues would do it for them, as a result of the bilateral agreement?
As mentioned under the re-newed cooperation for the said crimes, it may be more likely than not.

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Old 24.01.2010, 16:36
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

Not sure the police or the justice are going to consider someone needing the toilet as an emergency so good luck on that one.
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Old 24.01.2010, 16:57
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

So you rented a car.
a) You must be aware of when you rented a car. You should at least of some record of that. Surely, the rental car agency does even if your own memory or record keeping is that poor.
b) In either case, if you were the one driving, you should remember going 58 km over the speed limit.
c) If one of your 'friends' was driving that much over the speed limit, you should remember that too and you likely violated your rental car agreement, unless you happened to tell them which specific person was also going to be driving the vehicle and that person presented their driving credentials to the agency.

FWIW, courts are usually pretty good at figuring out when they are being jerked around. They don't like it much no matter how good your 'explanation'.

Last edited by phdoofus; 24.01.2010 at 17:19.
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Old 24.01.2010, 17:36
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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Thanks james_w.

I haven't received a "ticket" yet or been served any papers (except a letter from the Swiss police asking for a meeting, as explained earlier).

I've resigned myself to paying the fine and not getting into the "who was driving" argument anyway.

The only thing I'm unsure about is whether the French authorities can enforce a suspension on the Swiss license of a Swiss resident. Are you suggesting their Swiss colleagues would do it for them, as a result of the bilateral agreement?
Have you visited the Swiss Police yet? If not go as soon as possible. You can use the meeting to ask them exactly where you stand.

The Swiss guys might be lenient if you can put a "strong" case together i.e. licence is essential for your livelihood, no previous convictions or offences etc.

I'm almost certain, but I have no proof of this, that the Swiss guys can enforce the licence suspension.

To be honest, with the speed you were doing, I'm very surprised the French Cops did not chase you down on the autoroute and impound your vehicle there and then. There must have been a strike or demo on somewhere else... LOL
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Old 24.01.2010, 17:49
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

One of my ex-colleagues did 280kph on the run from Cannes to Geneva, so you weren't really trying. Sadly, he didn't get caught.

Generally, I've not a problem with people driving fast, per se - I've seen plenty of people drive stupidly well within the speed limits - but not being aware of how fast you are going seems to me criminally negligent, so I'm very glad that you've become decided to pay attention to what you're doing with the kinetic energy of a tonne of mobile metal...
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Old 24.01.2010, 18:05
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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Have you visited the Swiss Police yet? If not go as soon as possible. You can use the meeting to ask them exactly where you stand.
I did visit them (details in my first post). They did not have much information, except for what they received from the French authorities. They also did not know what would happen next; just told me to expect someone from France to contact me. When I asked if it was going to be a phone call (they took my number), they said it would most likely be a fine invoice etc. (Again, not very sure/confident or maybe it was my basic French/Their basic English)
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Old 24.01.2010, 20:28
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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I've resigned myself to paying the fine and not getting into the "who was driving" argument anyway.

The only thing I'm unsure about is whether the French authorities can enforce a suspension on the Swiss license of a Swiss resident. Are you suggesting their Swiss colleagues would do it for them, as a result of the bilateral agreement?
The French authorities can ban you from driving in France, but they cannot take away your Swiss license.
But if the Swiss authorities know that you've been speeding in a foreign country and you've been fast enough to warrant a license suspension according to the laws of both countries, you're license will most likely be suspended in Switzerland. Since going 58 kph over the limit will be classified as a severe violation you can expect a suspension of at least three months, even if you have an otherwise clean driving record.

BTW: It's not a judge who decides on license suspension but your local DMV (Office des automobiles/Strassenverkehrsamt).
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Old 24.01.2010, 20:43
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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I am a very careful driver and have all sorts of speed alerts on my GPS to prevent ever going over the limit.
...and how do you explain the 58kph over the speed limit? I mean I suffer from the same disease..my right foot is aproximately 30lbs heavier than my left one....but nevertheless, 58 over is a pretty serious offence.
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Old 24.01.2010, 20:43
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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The French authorities can ban you from driving in France, but they cannot take away your Swiss license.
But if the Swiss authorities know that you've been speeding in a foreign country and you've been fast enough to warrant a license suspension according to the laws of both countries, you're license will most likely be suspended in Switzerland. Since going 58 kph over the limit will be classified as a severe violation you can expect a suspension of at least three months, even if you have an otherwise clean driving record.
Thanks a lot Mark. I understand that this forum is no substitute for a lawyer (or a judge, doctor, policeman, dentist etc), but your post/opinion addresses my actual question.

I guess I'll keep my fingers crossed and piggy bank full.
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Old 24.01.2010, 20:52
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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...and how do you explain the 58kph over the speed limit? I mean I suffer from the same disease..my right foot is aproximately 30lbs heavier than my left one....but nevertheless, 58 over is a pretty serious offence.
Good one lost_inbroad and I completely deserved that one. Yes 58 over is as bad as it can be, even though it was very unlike me (hence the self doubt, which has fed some vultures on this post).

To give the piranhas some more food, I have two GPS's now, the car inbuilt and an off the shelf one. One with the commercial traps and the other with Trapster, not to mention the speed-limit warnings.

I don't mind paying the fine. It is the suspension and court proceedings which worry me.

3 months may be tough, but 3 years would mean a car sale.
Also, some other posts mentioned that it might impact one's chances of a C-permit.
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Old 24.01.2010, 20:56
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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The French authorities can ban you from driving in France, but they cannot take away your Swiss license.
But if the Swiss authorities know that you've been speeding in a foreign country and you've been fast enough to warrant a license suspension according to the laws of both countries, you're license will most likely be suspended in Switzerland. Since going 58 kph over the limit will be classified as a severe violation you can expect a suspension of at least three months, even if you have an otherwise clean driving record.

BTW: It's not a judge who decides on license suspension but your local DMV (Office des automobiles/Strassenverkehrsamt).
This is no longer correct. 30+ Km over is now considered a CRIMINAL offense in CH. There are specific minimum fines and license suspension times in place. There is no longer any "wiggle room" for discussing the circumstances.

With the cooperation agreement in place between CH and F, you have a real problem. It is just a question of who does what to you.
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Old 24.01.2010, 21:11
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

Not that I doubt you, but hard to believe that 30+ Km over limit is a criminal offense. When I am on the Swiss motorways doing 110/120, I am routinely passed at more than 30 Km.

fduvall

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This is no longer correct. 30+ Km over is now considered a CRIMINAL offense in CH. There are specific minimum fines and license suspension times in place. There is no longer any "wiggle room" for discussing the circumstances.

With the cooperation agreement in place between CH and F, you have a real problem. It is just a question of who does what to you.
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Old 24.01.2010, 21:19
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

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This is no longer correct. 30+ Km over is now considered a CRIMINAL offense in CH. There are specific minimum fines and license suspension times in place.
You have to distinguish between the fine and the license suspension. The fine is always determined by the jurisdiction where the infraction was commited (i.e. France in this case) while the duration of the license suspension is determined by the DMV of your canton of residence.

The law requires the DMV to suspend the license for at least three months for severe infractions (Art. 16c, 2nd paragraph), everything else is up to the DMV. (They may have some additional/internal guidelines, but those aren't federal law.)

See also Art. 16c bis regarding license suspensions for infractions commited in foreign countries. EDIT: This article specifically allows the DMV to go below the minimum suspension time mentioned above, but I doubt that this will help you with 58 kph over...
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Old 24.01.2010, 21:24
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Re: Another speeding thread (58 kmph over, in France)

As was mentioned, if you were doing 58 over, then you probably would remember this...

Since the highway speeds in France are limited to 130, and you were probably doing 63 over the limit (but they removed 5 for errors sake?), AND on top of this the speedometer on cars is overtuned by 2-3%, you would have seen 200kph on the meter when driving, and even with a fast car, one has to be extremely inattentive to not see that their speed has crept up that far.

Anyway, good luck... sounds like you're in a tough situation here.
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