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EXPLAINED: How to appeal against a French speeding ticket

EXPLAINED: How to appeal against a French speeding ticket
If you get caught with a speeding fine, you can appeal it online or via the post. Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP
Getting caught speeding in France can lead to points on your licence and a fine - but its not unheard of for tickets to be sent in error and some identity scans even target foreign drivers for speeding tickets. So if you have been sent a speeding fine in error, here is how to challenge it.

If you have received a fine in error, you’ll want to avoid getting points on your licence or paying the hefty fines – which increase over time.

This is especially the case if – like these foreign tourists – you receive dozens of fines after becoming the victim of identity scams.

If you are driving a foreign-registered car you can now be caught by French speed cameras thanks to an EU-wide agreement on data-sharing, although the UK’s membership of this is being renegotiated since Brexit.

READ ALSO All the driving offences that can get you points on your licence in France 

You can appeal against a speeding ticket either by post or online.

The appeal process used to be a lengthy one which involved sending a string of documents to the French Prosecutions Officer, or officier du ministère public, based in Rennes.

You can still choose this option – sending your appeal and supporting documents to the address in the top left corner of your ticket.

However since 2015 it has also been possible to appeal online, and this process is a lot more straightforward.

The French government has set up the appeals website in English, Italian, German and Spanish to help you through the dreaded bureaucracy. You can find the site on this link.

To make an appeal on the English site, select the blue button labelled “Designate or Appeal online”.

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From there, you have four simple steps:

  • Enter the ticket number, on the top left of your ticket. In French, this is labelled as the “numéro de l’avis de contravention” on your ticket
  • Write your surname
  • Add the date of the ticket
  • Insert your license plate number

You will then be asked to select the reasons for your appeal.

At this point you can add attachments or extra documents to your appeal that will help your cause – for example if your car has been stolen you would attach the gendarme’s report.

There should be an attach button or a paperclip icon, which you can use to attach your supporting documents.

You will also be asked which situation best reflects the reason for your appeal.

If the vehicle referred to is not owned by you, or had been stolen at the time of the offence, tick box 1.

If it was your car but you were not driving, tick box 2 and provide details of the person who was driving at the time.

If you are contesting that the speeding took place, tick box 3 – this is the most wide-ranging category which you would use if, for example, your car was 200km away at the time of the fine and you believe the ticket has been sent in error.

You will also be asked to pay a deposit. This deposit costs the same as the speeding fine but will be reimbursed if the Prosecutions Office acquits you.

How long do I have to appeal a fine?

The time limit for submitting an appeal depends on the type of ticket you have. 

Fines either come in the form of an offence notice, an avis de contravention, or an increased fixed fine notice, un avis d’amende forfaitaire majorée.

You have 45 days to appeal the offence notice or three months to appeal the increased fixed fine notice. If the notice has been sent to an address outside France, you will have an extra month to pay.

What happens next?

If you are acquitted, you’ll receive a letter from the Prosecutor and your fines will be dismissed. 

To get your deposit back, you address a letter to the Comptable du Trésor Public, attaching proof of the acquittal and your bank account details. Thankfully, Registry services will provide you with a pre-filled form when you receive the acquittal, making this easier. 

You will also be sent a pre-filled form by the Registry services that you can send off to the Tax Collector’s Office, or Comptable du Trésor Public. The address will be on the form.

Beware: if you are unsuccessful, you may have to pay a fine that is 10 percent higher. The deposit will be deducted from that total but you will still have to pay the outstanding fee.


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