If you’ve received a traffic fine while driving a rental car in Europe, these 5 tips will help you reduce your speeding ticket.
So you’ve just returned home from your road trip in Europe. And in the post you discover a letter notifying you that you were caught exceeding the speed limit somewhere along your journey. Also enclosed in the same letter is a traffic fine, requesting you to pay it within a specified time (usually 2 weeks).
I’m not sure about you, but learning that you have to part ways with your hard earned money is not a nice feeling. But maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to pay the entire amount. What if you could find a way to reduce the traffic fine you received abroad?
Ponder no more because we have the answer for that. You see, we found ourselves in this exact same situation. After returning from a trip to Austria, we discovered that we had been speeding in our rental car. Long story short, we managed to reduce our speeding ticket in Europe by 30%. Continue reading to find out how we did it.
So now that you know that it is truly possible to reduce a speeding ticket in Europe, follow these 5 simple tips to reduce your traffic fine abroad:
Tip 1: Never Ignore a Traffic Fine Received Abroad
Even though you received a fine abroad, you’re still legally liable to pay that traffic fine. You might be thinking, what’s the big deal if I don’t pay it? Or, how will they ever find me to recover payment for the speeding ticket?
If you live in the European Union, unfortunately there’s no escaping the traffic fine. On July 1st 2019, the EU enforced the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive. This simply means that if you live in one of the 21 participating European states, your home country will hold you liable even if the speeding ticket was obtained abroad.
If you live outside Europe, there’s very little chance you will ever face any justice for your speeding ticket if you choose to ignore it. But, if you ever plan to return to Europe or more specifically to the country you received the fine in, you could be in big trouble. And possibly even face jail time.
Also, the car rental company may even blacklist you if they have to pay the fine on your behalf. So if you rented a car on Rental Cars from international companies like Sixt, Budget or Avis, you may find yourself banned from renting a car from them until you settle the traffic fine.
So if you have received a traffic fine abroad, don’t ignore it!
Tip 2: Make Sure You Thoroughly Read and Understand the Traffic Infringement
It is extremely important that you take the time to read through the traffic fine. Read over it several times if you have to. But make sure you understand exactly which law you transgressed when you were abroad. This will help you establish the facts, which will come in handy when you make your case to get your fine reduced.
If you travelled to a European country in which the official language is not English, your speeding ticket will likely be written in a foreign language. Apps like Google Translate let you translate exactly what’s written on your traffic fine. You can even use the camera mode to translate what’s written on your fine in real time.
Related Guide: Fancy renting a car for ONLY €1? Find out how in our Cheapest Budget Car Rental in Europe guide. We kid you not! We’ve personally tried it ourselves and it’s 100% legit!
Tip 3: Check the Accuracy of the Speeding Ticket
We’re all guilty of going over the speed limit from time to time. It happens and that’s OK. We’re human after all! And if you never speed, then well done for being alert behind the wheel.
But when you’re driving abroad, it’s easy to get distracted especially if you’re not familiar with roads in a foreign country. It is true that speed limits vary cross Europe, and they’re different in the city compared to the countryside. So a small lapse in concentration while driving your rental in the countryside may easily result in you exceeding the speed limit by even 10%.
The important thing is to thoroughly check the date, time and location of where you were caught speeding in Europe. This information will be clearly outlined in the speeding ticket. And if you were indeed at the marked location on the mentioned date and time, then chances are you did the deed.
But of course clerical mistakes can happen. So make sure you thoroughly check the speeding ticket. Make sure the number plate on the traffic fine accurately matches the car rental contract, and that it really was you behind the wheel.
Tip 4: Comply with All Deadlines Stipulated on the European Speeding Ticket
All speeding tickets will specify the amount as well as the date when the fine needs to be paid by. Failure to comply with the deadline date may result in additional fees and expenses which you will be liable for.
So make sure that you take note of the deadline date stipulated on your traffic fine. You should always try to appeal or request a reduction of your speeding ticket with the relevant traffic authority in Europe before this deadline date.
By writing to the relevant European traffic authority to appeal or reduce your speeding ticket before the deadline date, you’re essentially extending this date. You buy yourself more time until the European traffic authority writes back to you with their decision, which will likely be final.
Tip 5: Request a Fine Reduction from the Traffic Authority in Europe
In general, traffic fines in Europe allow you the right to appeal, request a reduction (or partial payment) or even the option to pay the fine over several months.
Unless you can 100% prove that it was not you behind the wheel of the rental car, appealing a fine is the same as being caught on camera doing the deed and saying it wasn’t me. Not today Shaggy! There’s very little chance of a successful appeal and you’ll likely be exhausting your only chance to reduce your traffic fine abroad.
So that leaves you with only one other option which we think is worth exploring. Simply put, write to the relevant European traffic authority to request a reduction of your speeding ticket.
We always like to think that there is a human being, a soul, a person with emotions, behind every notice, letter, email or even traffic fine that’s issued and sent out. We also like to think that just because it’s in black and white, it doesn’t mean it’s final, and that there is a chance to find a compromise.
So make sure you own up to the fact that it was you in the rental car and you were indeed speeding. But don’t be afraid to pour your heart out as to why you were speeding and promise that you’ll be more alert next time you’re behind the wheel in Europe.
You never know! Someone with compassion might just be reading your request to reduce your speeding ticket in Europe.
Save Me For Later
How We Reduced Our Speeding Ticket in Europe by 30%
So as you may have guessed, we employed the exact same tactics explained above to reduce a speeding ticket we received while driving in Europe. Very simple and straightforward. Here’s how we did it:
The Traffic Offence and the Red Flash while Driving at Night
If you see a red flash while driving at night, you’ll know straight away that you have been caught speeding. It’s not something extraterrestrial and you weren’t imagining it. You probably lost concentration and went over the speed limit. It’s really that simple.
The moment we saw the red flash, we knew right away that we were guilty of speeding. And it was only a matter of time before we receive a traffic fine in the post.
Our traffic offence: speeding at 12km/h over the speed limit.
The Traffic Fine and When we Received it in the Post
Exactly 8 weeks after we came back from our European road trip and returned the rental car, we received a traffic fine in the post. We were caught speeding on camera on 30th September. But the traffic fine only arrived by mail on the 14th December, almost 3 months later.
To rub salt into the wound, we also received an invoice for €30 from the car rental company to cover the cost of their traffic fine administration fee. We received the rental car violation charge in the post on 27th November. So at this point we knew a speeding ticket was on its way to us.
The traffic fine we received in the mail: €60 for speeding by 12km/h over the speed limit.
The Request for Partial Payment of Speeding Ticket
We requested to pay the fine in installments. Our partial payment request was submitted online. So no posting of letters was required. Here’s what we wrote in our partial payment request:
Our Appeal to the Traffic Authority in Austria
Successful Request for Partial Payment of Speeding Ticket
I am a travel and expat blogger. I was visiting Austria in September 2020 to create content so that I can write travel guides about Austria. You can see my travel and expat blog at nomadandinlove.com. You can find our Instagram profile on @nomadandinlove.
On the evening of the 30th September, we had visited Gosausee. After exploring the area, it was late and we wanted to eat local food. We found a restaurant that served the best schnitzel in Austria and we wanted to support local businesses. We called Gasthaus Wes’n Restaurant which was close by to reserve a table. They told us that they were closing at 9pm and that they could serve us if we arrive before 8pm.
On my way to the restaurant, I became a little distracted and exceeded the speed limit by 12km per hour. I am very sorry I committed this offence. I am always alert and this is the first time I received a fine in my life. Actually, I drove almost 3500km from Berlin to Austria and back and did not receive any other fine.
But maybe my hunger and the restaurant’s promise that they serve the best schnitzel in Austria was the cause of my distraction. Either way, it is not an excuse and I am truly sorry.
I would like to request that I pay my fine over the next 12 months at €5 per month. Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is difficult for me as a travel blogger to make money in travel and I don’t have any other income at the moment.
So I ask you to please understand the very difficult situation I am in and allow me to pay the fine over the next 12 months. I only received the fine in the post on 24th December 2020. So I hope it is not too late to make this request.
Again, I am sorry for all the trouble and I hope that my readers will get to experience your beautiful country when the pandemic is over.
The Reduction and How We Saved 30%
The traffic authority wrote back to us informing us that they have decided to reduced our speeding ticket by €20. That’s the 30% reduction!
Although we were not granted our request to pay down the traffic fine over 12 months, they allowed us to pay it down over 4 months. That’s in addition to the reduction they gave us.
Moral of the story? Make sure you ask for more than the outcome you hope to get. Although nothing is guaranteed, this ‘negotiating tactic’ might just help you reduce your traffic fine.
So there you have it! 5 tips that will no doubt help you reduce your speeding ticket in Europe. Next time you’re driving a rental car abroad, make sure you adhere to the speed limit.