Which country’s drivers have picked up the most fines in France?

Vehicles drive past a fixed roadside safety camera near La Rochelle, France
Vehicles drive past a fixed roadside safety camera near La Rochelle, France. We break down who are the worst foreign drivers in the country.Photo: Xavier Leoty / AFP
Of the 13 million traffic violation tickets issued in France last year, almost 2 million - 14.6 percent - were sent to drivers of vehicles registered at addresses outside the country.

In total in France last year 11,160,753 fines were issued to French addresses whilst 1,907,926 fines were sent to foreign addresses.

Figures from the Agence nationale de traitement automatisé des infractions (ANTAI) show that Belgian motorists were the most commonly caught on French roads, with 245,586 tickets sent to addresses over the Franco-Belgian border. 

Spanish drivers came next, with 219,704 tickets set to addresses on the other side of the Pyrenees mountain range. Then came British motorists, with 210,474 tickets issued, followed by drivers from Germany, who received 170,271 tickets.

Completing the top 10 of foreign-registered vehicles picking up automated motoring fines in France is Romania (160,630), Italy (143,461), the Netherlands (139,977), Poland (127,246), Switzerland (114,058), and Portugal (78,398).

Every one of the top four most-ticketed nations showed marked falls from the previous year, records show. Overall, the total number of tickets sent to non-French addresses is heading downwards – 21.6 percent in 2020, compared to the previous year – which itself saw a sharp drop of 14.2 percent on the prior 12 months.

The biggest drop in sanctions was for drivers from Finland, who were handed 60 percent fewer tickets than in the previous year, followed by Swedes (a 58 percent drop). On the flipside, Bulgarian motorists – from a low starting point – received more than double the number of tickets in 2020 than in 2019.

Behind these figures is an important point. A European Directive, passed in 2015, made the cross-border exchange of information on certain traffic offences much simpler. France now exchanges vehicle registration information with 19 EU Member States and Switzerland.

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Today, it is possible for French authorities to identify and send a ticket directly to a motorist in a partner country for eight offences: speeding; failure to wear a seat belt; crossing a red light; driving while intoxicated; driving under the influence of drugs; not wearing a helmet; driving in a restricted lane; and using a mobile phone (or other communication equipment) while driving.

British drivers might be able to get away with more in the future. 2020 was the final year that British motorists could be sent fines from France. When Britain formally left the EU on January 1st, 2021, it also fell out of the EU’s cooperation rules on exchange of driver information. 

Currently, French authorities cannot retrieve the name and address of a British-registered vehicle’s owner from their numberplate – a situation that will remain in force until such time a new agreement is reached.

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