Driving offences and penalties in France

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Publié par Eplaque - 6 min de lecture ⏳

Le 15/11/2021 - Mis à jour le 11/12/2023

Before registering your car in France, it is good to get familiar with driving rules and driving offences penalties in France. If many things might be similar to your country, you will also find out that there are differences. Drink driving offence code and penalties, how does the fine system work, how to pay… Let’s dive right now into those subjects.

And about the obligation or not to own the international driving permit in France, click on the link to read our articled dedicated to that subject.

Driving offences and penalties in France in a nutshell

In France, there are 4 main types, divided in “classes”, of offences penalties. Those are valid for minor to medium offences. When it’s more serious, you will have to go to the court and the judge will determine the fine amount.

  1. First Class fine: €11 (no discount for quick payment – €33 for late payment): parking offences (except no payment in case of paid parking. In that case it’s the municipality that fixes the price of such offense)
  2. Second Class fine: €35 (€22 for quick payment – €75 for late payment): offences related to unpaid toll road, proof of insurance or turn without winker
  3. Third Class fine: 68 (€45 for quick payment – €180 for late payment): speeding offences less than 20 km/h, and when max speed limit is above 50 km/h
  4. Fourth Class fine: 135 (€90 for quick payment – €375 for late payment): most road offences, like driving without a seatbelt, dangerous overtaking, crossing or overlapping a continuous line, mobile phone usage while driving, etc.
  5. Fifth class: €200 (no discount for quick payment – €450 for late payment): speeding 50 km/h above the limit

As you can see most driving offences in France lead to a fourth class penalty. You have 45 days to pay the standard amount. To avail the discount for quick payment, you need to pay within 15 days by cash or cheque or within 30 days online. If you were handed the ticket, you must pay within three days. It is always advised to pay online as you just have to provide the offence reference (E-payment no and key) to the system to know the exact amount to pay. It’s also easier to trace the payment when paying online. To pay, click on the link below:

France speeding fines: when you might get a speeding ticket? How much?

What is the fine for speeding in France? It ranges from 68 to EUR 135 if the speeding is not more than 50 km/h above the limit. How much is a speeding ticket in France, precisely? Here are the fines amounts:

  • Speeding up to 20 km/h above the limit outside cities: EUR 68
  • Speeding up to 50 km/h above the limit: EUR 135
  • Speeding exceeding 50 km/h above the limit: Up to EUR 1,500 (amount will be determined by a judge), up to EUR 3,750 in case of recidivism

In France, speeding cameras apply a tolerance margin of 5%.

Can UK drivers be fined for speeding in France?

Before the Brexit, it was the case because of the European cross border enforcement directive. Now that the UK is out of the EU, this agreement is no more. Therefore you won’t get a French speeding ticket in your mailbox. You might only get fined on the spot. The old system in which France enforces speeding fines might come back if a bilateral agreement is signed with the United Kingdom. But so far, it has not happened.

Driving offences: when will you have to meet a judge?

In most cases you will get a fourth class ticket if you commit a driving offense. However, when serious a penal procedure will be triggered. In certain cases, a much heftier fine will have to be paid if it’s your first offense of that type. The most common road penal offences when driving in France are the following:

  • Driving without driving licence: €800 the first time. If caught a second time you will have to go to court.
  • Driving without insurance: €500 the first time. If caught the second time, you will have to appear in court
  • Driving with a fake driving license: up to five years jail term and up to €75,000 fine
  • Crash with injuries to third parties: jail time up to 5 years, fine up to two €75,000, driving ban up to five years + other sanctions
  • Drink driving limit: see the paragraph below dedicated to driving under influence
  • Driving under influence of drugs: fine up to €4,500, jail time up to two years, car confiscation
  • Hit and run

In case of a serious offense, the judge can confiscate the vehicle, or even seize it and sell it. Any of those offences will be added to you criminal record.

Speed limits in France

Here are the main rules regarding speed limits in France. Those are applicable unless a sign imposes another limit. Please note that young drivers are subject to lower limits at high speed:

  • Motorway: 130 km/h – 110 for young drivers
  • 2-lane roads separated by a central structure: 110 km/h – 100 for young drivers
  • Two-lane roads not separated by a central structure: 90 km/h – 80 for young drivers
  • One way roads outside of cities or inhabited zones: 80 km/h
  • In cities and inhabited zones: 50 km/h or 30 km/h

In case of rain, speed must be reduced to the limit that applies to young drivers. In other words on highways speed is limited to 110 km/h.

Drink driving offence code and limit

What are the drink driving laws in France? The drink drive limit is 0.5 g per liter of blood for experienced drivers. It corresponds to 0.25 mg of alcohol per liter of expired air. The threshold falls to 0.2 g per liter of blood for young drivers holding a probationary license.

Between 0.5 g and 0.8 g per liter of blood, you will have to pay a standard fine (4th class). Above 0.8 g per liter of blood, it is a criminal offence. Driving under the influence of alcohol exposes you to penalties, here are the penalties you will be exposed to in the event of a positive test.

As a rule of thumb, 0.5 g equals roughly to 2 drinks (any kind of) based on the quantities served in restaurants and pubs. So yes, you can drive and drink in France, but very moderately!

Drink drive limit France vs UK

In the UK, the drink drive limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Converted to the French scale, it means 0.8 g of alcohol per liter. The tolerance in France is therefore much lower. You would have to drink almost 40% less than you do at home.

Drink driving limit in France: penalties

For a blood alcohol level that does not exceed 0.8 g, here are the possible sanctions in case of drink driving:

  • A fixed fine of 135 €
  • 6 points withdrawal on your driving license
  • Driver’s license suspension (3 years maximum)
  • Your car can be confiscated

Above that level, the French drink driving offence code holds the following provisions:

  • A fine of up to € 4,500
  • Prison sentence (2 years maximum)
  • Driver’s license confiscation
  • Administrative suspension (1 year maximum)
  • Cancellation of the driving license
  • The obligation to follow a road safety awareness course
  • 6 points withdrawal on the driving license
  • Temporary car confiscation, unless a passenger is able to drive
  • The obligation to equip your vehicle with an EAD (Anti-Start Breathalyzer)
  • Car confiscation

FAQ driving offences and penalties in France

Is driving without insurance a criminal offence in France?

Yes. Anything that does not lead to a fourth class offence is criminal, and therefore will be visible in your French criminal record.

Has drink driving always been a criminal offence?

In France, no. Until 1959, there was nothing preventing people to drink and drive. As of 1959, police could fine people driving under influence, but in an arbitrary way (you had to be really, really drunk). In 1970, people could still drink 6 glasses of wine without risking more than a fine. From 0,8 gr of alcohol per blood liter in 1970, maximum level has dropped to 0,2 g.

How many points for driving without insurance?

Driving offences and penalties in France say that no points are deducted for driving without insurance.

Where to find a driving offence lawyer?

There are quite some lawyers and law offices specialized in driving offences. They offer their services in English. To find one, Google is your best friend. Just type “driving offence lawyer” + your city.

Is careless driving a criminal offence?

It depends how careless. In principle no, as “dangerous driving” is an offence that leads to a fourth class offense. However, if that careless driving lasted for a while, it can be requalified by police officers.

Drink driving penalties first offence: what will happen?

There is no lenience for first offence in case of drink driving as there is for driving without insurance. If you are above 0.8g, you will have to go to court. However the judge will be less severe if it’s your first time.

Une question ?

Nous vous répondrons dans les meilleurs délais.

Les questions des utilisateurs

  • Shakil

    15 mai 2024

    Hello,I drive my company car and I got fine with points,my boss he changed fine with my name,but unfortunately I don’t have too much points,if I don’t pay fine for 6 months my company will receive any remainder
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      16 mai 2024

      Once a company reports a employee, their fine is cancelled and a new fine is created on the name of the employee. Therefore it has nothing to do anymore with them, it becomes the employee's problem. They won't get any reminder.
  • Carol Stapleton

    25 avril 2024

    I have received a speeding fine to my house in Montazels last August but only got it on 19/4/24 as I was in Ireland. I have tried to pay online, over the phone & I went to the Tresoire in Limoux but because I need to wait for 2nd bill to come the system will not let me pay. I will now be out of France until July. The person I spoke to said the 2nd bill has to be signed by me ... but I will not be there to sign for it. Is there any otherway I can pay .. kind regards Carol
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      26 avril 2024

      If you write a procuration to someone you know, it should be possible, otherwise we don't see any solution.
  • KRISTEL SPINNOY

    12 avril 2024

    our employee had a penalty with his company car he did not pay in time, and so the company had to pay in the end (automatically withdrawn from the account) can we and how to have the employee reimburse this amount?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      12 avril 2024

      Companies are responsible of fines until they report the real culprit. When receiving a penalty, they have to report the employee who committed the offence, this is a legal requirement. After that, they are not linked in any way to the penalty. If the employee is late, he will pay for the consequences.
  • Phil

    9 avril 2024

    If a friend with a foreign drivers license speeds in my car and I get a fine in the post. Do I lose points on my French drivers after notifying the authorities that it was him driving?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      9 avril 2024

      No.
  • kevin fagan M.

    3 avril 2024

    J'ai perdu les papiers ou documents relatifs à mon amende.. ?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      4 avril 2024

      Malheureusement il n'est pas possible d'obtenir une copie ou autre, il faut attendre la majoration.
  • Mary Hager

    13 mars 2024

    Hello, In the Summer 2017 rented a car in Paris. Months later, back in the US, I received a paper notice for a speeding ticket in the mail. I did not address the matter immediately and lost the notice. I would like to know what should I do if I want to pay it. I'm planning to go back to Paris this Summer and want to make sure that I will not have any issues at the airport or if I decide to rent a car. Thank you for your help! Thank you
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      13 mars 2024

      Unfortunately there is no easy way to get a copy of a speeding ticket, your best chance is to contact the car rental company.
  • Paul Marsh

    26 février 2024

    I was caught speeding & immediately paid a police officer 750 euros at the time of the incident for riding more than 50 km/hr par conducteur de vehicle a Moteur. I have now 18 months later received a Relieve de condemnation penal letter & Ordnnance penale contravention letter. Do I need to do anything , I can’t understand if they want me to pay again? Thank you for your help
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      27 février 2024

      It's hard to say without knowing all the details. You might have paid a "consignation", which is some kind of deposit or bail that allows you to keep the car, waiting for the judge decision (in France, speeding > 50 km/h is a criminal offence. If you know a local, ask him/her to find out for you.
  • Madalina Ilie

    21 février 2024

    How can I pay for a 1.60 euro toll which I failed to pay on A8 from Cannes to Antibes in order to avoid a fine?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      22 février 2024

      We don't find the answer on their website, probably because you were not supposed to be able to pass through without paying, how did you manage? https://www.vinci-autoroutes.com/fr/conseils/autoroute-mode-demploi/moyens-paiement-peage/
  • Trev

    24 janvier 2024

    I was speeding (158km/hrs in a 110km/hrs zone) they have suspended my license for 3 months but I've got to go to a tribunal to find out the fine €. I don't understand why I have to go to court, and do you know what my fine might be? There were no other issues ( drink, drugs etc) Thanks
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      25 janvier 2024

      Are you sure it was a 110 zone? The law says that you go to court when you speed more than 50 km/h above the limit. Under that, you pay a regular fine. Above 50 the fine is up to EUR 1,500.
  • John Young

    10 janvier 2024

    I got a speeding ticket in 2018. Will i still be on french anpr if i take my different car with the same number plate.
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      11 janvier 2024

      Yes.
  • Giri Milan

    27 novembre 2023

    Where can I check my scooter fines? Do I need to visit any organisation in Paris?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      28 novembre 2023

      There is no centralized service to consult every fine per vehicle. In Paris you need to liaise with the local "trésorerie" and request a BSAPC (bordereau de situation des amendes et condamnations pécuniaires).
  • Gail

    17 novembre 2023

    We rented a car in France in October (south of France). Our car rental company told us we had fines but refuses to disclose the name of the fining authority. How do we find out how much our fines are and who to pay?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      20 novembre 2023

      They will forward you the fines, won't they? Otherwise how could you pay? Unless they reported you as the driver, in that case new tickets will be printed and sent to your home address.
  • Giri Milan

    14 novembre 2023

    Hello, I was driving 50cc scooter of my friend. This scooter is not in my name(carte de grise is in friend's name). Unfortunately I got checked by the police, later I along with police officer found that the insurance of the scooter has already expired. As a result, officer give me a insurance offence fine ticket in my name . So my question is, do I need to pay full amount by myself or I can make any request for the decrement of fined amount? This question I'm asking because this is not my scooter but I was riding without checking proper documents. Looking for a genuine answer or suggestions.
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      15 novembre 2023

      We have been looking at law texts, we couldn't find a definitive answer. We believe that you will have to pay, because in this https://www.economie.gouv.fr/particuliers/risques-conduire-sans-assurance they emphasize on driving without insurance, without mentioning ownership. Moreover, the fact that agent decided to fine you, and not the owner, suggests that it is the right interpretation.
  • Nina

    8 novembre 2023

    My fine does not have e-number of key. Is this a scam?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      9 novembre 2023

      Most probably. There are a lot of fake emails and SMS being mass-sent to random numbers and adresses. If you don't have those 2 numbers to pay on the official ANTAI website, just ignore.
  • Einat

    30 octobre 2023

    Hello I got email from car rental for fine in France few years ago, I called to pay the fine they told me that i need first to get it by post but it was never received by post. How can i get it and close this isaue? Thanks Einat
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      30 octobre 2023

      There is no way you can get a copy of a fine. If they sent you the original and didn't keep a copy (?), you'll have to wait for the authorities to send them another reminder.
  • Sam

    3 octobre 2023

    Hello I got accident because of taxi driver I was with my scooter 50 cc and suddenly taxi without seeing meror and without indicator come front of me I did emergency break and I slipped on the road and I got injured my knee and my back so what is a law said about this careless driving? What should I do against him.
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      3 octobre 2023

      You can of course sue him if the injury was substantial and prevented you to live normally or work. Did you file a complaint with the police and do you have a hospital report regarding your injuries ?
  • Luc

    23 août 2023

    Hello, What is the best way to move forward on changing the name to one of our vehicles. Both are in my name and we only have one point left. Might have just lost that as well. However, I know my wife has driven multiple times and lost points for driving. Can I attest some points to say she was driving and receive points back? Also, how would I go about putting one of our vehicles in her name? Thanks
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      24 août 2023

      You need to designate her prior to paying the fine to avoid losing points, there is no other way. Changing names won't help in that regard, what matters is who pays the fine. You can always designate another driver, and the owner's fine will be cancelled.
  • Nara

    23 août 2023

    Hi, I don't know how to pay the fine because my fine slip is missing. How can I search by license plate number?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      23 août 2023

      Unfortunately no such tool exist. If you still have the main letter you can find the payment code on it, it starts with 333. You can then pay online.
  • Kika Cichosz

    19 juillet 2023

    My adult son was pulled over for speeding a day before he passed his driving exam, I was over the limit sitting next to him. I have lost my licence and I have to go to court. Is this right?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      19 juillet 2023

      If you were not driving, no. I wonder why they fined you.
  • Philomena

    13 juillet 2023

    Are points put on your licence wen you receive a Tird Class fine of 45 euro fora speeding offence
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      14 juillet 2023

      A third class fine leads to the loss of 1 point on your licence (if it's a French one).
  • Gene

    27 juin 2023

    Hi, I have received an old penalty that took a very long time to arrive and now instead of 45 EUR I have to pay 180 EUR. Is there any way I can dispute the penalty as that is something that was out of my hands.
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      27 juin 2023

      You can dispute the penalty by explaining that you have never received it, then ask to pay the original amount. To have a chance you have to make sure that your adresss on the car registration is accurate, otherwise the request will be rejected.
    • Gene

      28 juin 2023

      Thank you for the response. Could you please let me know the link where this can be done? On the penalty it only shows the website for making the payment.
  • Gregorio Urruela

    19 mars 2023

    The car rental e mailed me that i had an infraction but i never got the notification. How can i look for the infraction and pay the fine.
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      20 mars 2023

      If they provided your data so that a new fine is issued, you have to wait to get something by mail or email, there is no way to enquire about that.
  • John mills

    27 février 2023

    I have been caught driving and shown 0.5l of breath air . My licence has been taken of me , I’m due to fly home to uk on Thursday , can I force them to give back my licence , they have told the hire company to collect my hire car. Will this mean I can no longer drive in the uk?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      28 février 2023

      We found the following answer on the website of the Loire-Atlantique prefecture : "In case of short stay in France, the prefecture of the place of the offense keeps your license for the duration of the suspension or sends it back to the authorities of the country of issue if the duration of the suspension is greater than the duration of your stay in France." So we guess that you have to notify the prefecture or the police that you are going back home.
  • Aide

    30 décembre 2022

    Hi, my car has been left for extended periods at my friends/ employees house (France) as they live near a train station and I live remotely + work in travel. Her husband has been using my vehicle and has clocked up a speeding fine which I paid, I recently found a box of bullets in the rear passenger seat well, and now he has crashed my car at great expense. What are my options? He is a Swiss/ Irish passport holder.
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      2 janvier 2023

      Well, ask him to cover the expenses, if not you will have to sue him to get compensated.
  • ALAN R HOMBS

    24 avril 2022

    WHAT IF ONE WAS CONVICTED OF HIT AND RUN AND DRIVER OF OTHER CAR WAS PARALYSED AFTER ACCIDENT?? WHAT WOULD BE POSSIBLE PENALTY IN FRANCE??
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      25 avril 2022

      Maximum penalty for such offence is EUR 75,000 fine and 5 years jail time in case of hit & run with a victim incapacitated for at least 3 months.

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