File photo: AFP
A 46-year-old motorist in the Loire department of central France has been warned he faces two to four months in jail after sticking his middle finger up to two speed cameras back in May 2015.
However while the driver accepted that he was speeding and paid his fines, he denied giving the one-finger salute, known as the doigt d'honneur in French (finger of honour), to two speed cameras at Saint-Forgeux-Lespinasse and Bessay-sur-Allier.
“At that moment, I was talking to my girlfriend, and I was upset because she was talking about her ex-boyfriend. The finger was intended for her,” he said.
The public prosecutor's office said that even though the driver had already paid his fines for speeding they pressed charges against him for “insulting a person tasked with a public service mission”.
The crime punishes “words, gestures, or threats, writings or images of any nature… as to attack [the victim's] dignity or respect afforded to the role they have taken on.”
Minor offences are punishable by a fine of up to €7,500 while more serious offences can result in a spell behind bars. But there is no offence in France for “insulting a machine”.
But prosecutors claim it was the public service officials in Rennes who had to watch the images of his gestures who were insulted, according to a report in French newspaper Le Progrès. They have demanded he be sentence to between two to four months in prison.
However his lawyer has demanded he be cleared of any crime insisting he cannot be sent to prison for sticking his middle finger up at a machine.
On top of that, the police said the driver had modified the license plate of his car with black adhesive tape which made it difficult to identify him at the time.
The prosecutor also requested a separate three-month prison sentence for this driver for driving under the influence of alcohol on August 20th 2017.