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DRIVING

France finally puts brakes on impunity for Monaco’s speeding drivers

The days of drivers from Monaco being able to get into their sports cars and repeatedly break the speed limits on French roads without fear of being fined are over.

France finally puts brakes on impunity for Monaco's speeding drivers
AFP

A prosecutor in western France is leading the charge to close the loophole that allows drivers from the Riviera principality to speed in France without being punished.

Monaco is only two square kilometres in size yet it has the most millionaires per head in Europe – no doubt attracted by its low tax rates. And many of those rich residents own fast sports cars and like to burn rubber.

Nicolas Jacquet, from Rennes in Brittany, who is in charge of France's speed cameras, has been fighting for two years to persuade authorities in Monaco to allow France to pursue its wealthy residents who have been breaking the speed limit.

He is tired of speeding drivers collecting up tickets without fear of fines dropping through their letter boxes or legal proceedings being launched against them.

Monaco is not in the EU and so is not obliged by the EU directive of March 2015 to allow France access to its vehicle register to process tickets when drivers are caught speeding by roadside cameras.

Jacquet says many drivers are repeat offenders.

“A certain number of motorists in luxury sports cars were caught committing very serious speeding offences, more than 50km/h above the limit and some far above that,” he said.

“I cannot accept drivers who put the lives of citziens in danger on our national territory but then benefit from total immunity,” Jacquet told AFP

In 2016 he sent a list of 206 car registrations to authorities in Monaco – 97 of which had clocked up at least 50 driving offences in France and 109 which had broken the law at least 10 times. But prosecutors in Monaco stressed they could not launch legal proceedings against the drivers but sent out warnings to drivers reminding them of the laws.

One driver was even found to have committed 384 individual offences. In all over the last four years some 400 dirves have committed 13,000 offences on the roads.

Last year Jacquet sent another list of 231 vehicles, this time the owners of which were summoned to hearings. 

Jacquet says he now has an agreement with Monaco's general prosecutor to put an end “to drivers behaving with total impunity”.

According to the magistrate the solution will be through a bilateral agreement. In future the names of offenders will be sent to local authorities in southern France who will launch legal proceedings.

Maximum speeding fines can reach €3,000

For members

TRAVEL

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

Ever seen those drivers who avoid the queues at toll booths and driving straight through? Here's how they do it.

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

If you’re driving on French autoroutes one of the things you need to know is that they are not free – you will have to pay regular tolls, payable at toll booths known as péage.

Usually, drivers pick up a ticket from a booth at the start of their journey, then pay the required amount at a booth at the end of it – or when they move onto a different section of autoroute – based on the distance they have travelled.

But the toll booths themselves can be busy, especially during the summer, and long queues sometimes build up.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

This is where automated pay systems – known as télépéage – come in, especially for those who use the motorway network regularly.

As well as allowing you to pass straight through péages without stopping for payment, it’s also very useful for owners of right-hand drive vehicles, who may otherwise find that they’re sitting on the wrong side for easy and speedy payment.

Here’s how it works

Order your télépéage badge online

Click on the Bip&Go website here and follow the instructions to order a scannable personalised device (up to a maximum of two per account for private users). You will need to set up an account to arrange electronic payment of charges.

The website is available in English, French, German or Dutch.

You will need to supply bank details (IBAN number), address (for delivery), mobile phone number (to activate your account) and the vehicle’s registration details.

Your badge will be dispatched to your address within 48 hours from the opening of your online account. You can have the device sent to addresses outside France, but allow longer for it to arrive. 

If you’re in France, you can also pick up the device at one of Bip&Go’s stores, if you prefer – you will need need your bank details, proof of identity and a mobile phone.

Attach your badge 

Place your device on on the windscreen to the right of the rearview mirror. It is activated and ready to go. Then, simply, drive.

At the péage

All toll booths are equipped with the sensors that recognise that the vehicle is carrying the necessary device. At most, you will have to stop briefly for the device to be recognised and the barrier to lift.

You will also be able to drive through certain booth areas without stopping. These are indicated by an orange t symbol on the overhead signs. The maximum speed you can pass through these booths is 30kph.

Payments

Payments are processed automatically. You can monitor the amounts you have to pay on an app.

Do I need separate badges for motorway networks run by different companies?

No. The badge allows holders to travel on the entire French motorway network, no matter which company manages the motorway, and you can also use it to cross a number of toll structures in France such as the Millau Viaduct, the Tancarville Bridge or the Normandie Bridge, and pay to park in more than 450 car parks. 

Is it only valid in France?

No, with certain packages, you can also as easily travel on motorways in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and use a number of compatible car parks. You can even use them on Italian ferries.

Okay, but how much does it cost?

Subscriptions to the Bip&Go service depend on what type of service you want. A fixed price rolling subscription is €16 a year – plus toll charges – but assumes you’re a regular user of French motorways. 

A pay-as-you-go subscription is €1.70 for every month the badge is in use – plus toll charges – and carries a €10 additional fee if the badge is not used in a 12-month period.

How much are the toll charges?

They depend on the road you’re on, how far you travel along it, and the vehicle you’re driving.

Heading from Toulouse to Biarritz along the A64 will cost a total €23 in fees for a private car and if you’re driving all the way from Calais down to the Mediterranean coast expect to pay around €70 once you add up the various tolls along the way.

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

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