08 September 2009

A Fine Line

THERE'S A FINE line between laughing something off and getting quite annoyed about it. I crossed that line today.

We finally got our mail from this past summer (we were away for two months) and when Kerri told me that I had a speeding ticket from Strasbourg I kind of shrugged and laughed it off. Bad luck again. When I saw that the ticket was for going 60km in a 50km zone and the fine is 135 Euros I began to get a bit irritated. That seems a bit steep, no? I suppose that's what happens when you go over the speed limit. But things got a bit worse when we realized that the two notices we were looking at from the Avis de Contravention au Code de la Route were in fact two separate tickets from two separate incidents rather than the 1 ticket and 1 late notice that we had thought. And this one too was for going 60km in a 50km zone. That pushed me over the truely annoyed.

Seriously? 135 Euros? Is this normal?

Actually, the story gets a bit worse. Because the violations were in early July and we only received them in early September (because we had no access to mail for two months) we technically now owe the 'late fee' fin of 375 Euros per ticket!! But I'm fighting that one and can tell you I won't pay the late fee. I've already contacted Barbara, my great French teacher, and asked her to help me draft me a feisty letter. I have a couple of thoughts about how it should start.
CJS

7 comments :

Isabelle said...

I'm sorry to be straightforward, but you really need to pay attention to speed limits in France. I've been driving for 19 years and never got a speed ticket...

I agree that it's very painful to receive this kind of "surprise" just after returning from your vacation, and I wish you luck with your "contestation".

But don't you have speed limits in the US too, and aren't cops very strict about them?

La Vie est Belle said...

That is steep! Just as bad as 90 euros for crossing a white line in Cannes.

cjscriven said...

Isabelle: of course we have speed limits, and I know I have to pay attention. But we don't often have 135.00 fines for being about 6 miles over the limit. That's my poin.

Isabelle said...

The speeding fines are high in France because the only way to make the French obey a law is to hit their wallet.
The reason why most people are very careful about speed limits here is not because they are good citizens, it's because they don't want to pay such big fines!

Leesa said...

Well, let me add in a little bit, too... Because I've gotten tickets, but never a "speeding" ticket (in the U.S.)
If you were flashed rather than stopped that's another thing, too.. In the U.S. people are frequently stopped by the Highway Patrol on the freeway... in France, it could be via cops with binoculars over bridges, speed traps, and flashes... I've actually never seen a cop car pull someone over on the freeway, but I'm sure they do.... In the U.S., the cops are pretty strict, but sometimes, you can talk yourself out of a ticket and just get a "warning." I don't know if this is the case here in France, but I've done it more than a few times in the U.S. in my life.. If you are very respectful the cops are usually pretty nice... I haven't talked myself out of every ticket, but about 3 or 4.... Even like making a left turn at a non-designated area...
Okay.. back to the subject...
For the flashes in France, Alex seems to know where they are all in our area... and he ALWAYS slows down before he comes to them... Also, they show up on his GPS so he is alerted of them before they show up on the road... He doesn't seem to speed, normally, but to me, going 5/6 km over the speed limit doesn't seem like that much... If you were flashed.. I understand that's something automatic and regulated.. But, would a cop on the road really stop you for going just that small amount over the limit???? I'm not sure...
I know when they have the binocs out, they mean business!!! I wouldn't break the law here b/c I think they are more strict here... when you get caught that is...
Good luck in contesting the late charge, it seems reasonable, since you weren't around to receive the first notice... You never know! Hope it works out... And, getting tickets for something is DEFINITELY a great deterrent for being really anally careful the next time...
Too bad they don't give out tickets regularly for plain old "bad driving" skills!!! Take care, Leese

angus said...

Wow! That is crazy steep for 10 kms over! And the late fee seems almost criminal.

I wish you luck in contesting them both.

And for what it is worth. I don't remember the French being very careful about the speed limits while we were there last spring...and I loved every minute of it!! Thank god for a good horn on my rental!

Anonymous said...

be happy we don't throw you in jail!!!
Jerome