News: Crackdown on foreign drivers who evade penalty fines

£2.3m of unpaid speeding tickets over 20 months

Foreign registered cars and speeding fines

TIME COULD be up for drivers of foreign-registered cars who get away with flouting speeding and parking rules because their numberplates cannot be traced.

At least 15,000 drivers are estimated to be driving in breach of the law, which requires them to obtain a British plate if their car is in the UK for more than six months a year.

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Most of their vehicles are uninsured and untaxed, and overstaying foreign drivers are thought to account for a sizeable proportion of unpaid speeding and parking tickets. Last week research by the Institute of Advanced Motorists found that over the previous 20 months, 23,295 speeding tickets, worth £2.3m, went unpaid by drivers of cars registered abroad. Councils report millions of pounds in lost parking revenue.

Now the Department for Transport has signalled a crackdown on the practice, announcing that for a trial period border staff, who track cars entering and leaving the country, will share that information with six police forces, which will be given powers to seize untaxed vehicles.

From November 3 data on cars that appear to have overstayed — including those already in the country — will be shared. Officials say that numberplates in Arabic and other non-Roman scripts won’t be exempt: drivers either have to have additional western characters on their numberplates or swap them for UK ones.

“The government is determined to crack down on foreign drivers who deliberately refuse to register and license their vehicles,” said Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary. “We will use all of the information available to us to make sure we take tough action to keep our roads safe.”