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European Speed Limits and What Happens if You Break Them

28th March, 2022, in Travel Advice & Guides

With the increasing number of cameras watching your every move, being aware of speed limits is more important than ever. The potential fines and bans can seriously hinder your ability to get to work, enjoy a day out or go on holiday.

Keeping to the rules not only keeps you safe but allows you to enjoy your trip.

We have compiled a list of the speed limits for the most well-visited European countries. You’ll find out what the limits are and the fines or penalties you may incur.

Speed limits and fines in France

France is perhaps the most common trip abroad for UK residents. Easy to get to and no notable time zone changes make it popular for weekend breaks and holidays.

The current speed limits in France are monitored by 2641 cameras and a very strict police force. Breaking them will result in a €135 fine, which may be reduced to €90 if paid within 15 days. However, if you break the limit by over 50km/h the fine is a huge €1500. Additional fines may be incurred if you are found to use a device to track the locations of speed cameras, and along with the fine, you will have your device confiscated.

Speed limits France

Motorways – 130km/h

Dual carriageways – 110km/h

Main roads – 80km/h

Main roads (built-up areas) – 50km/h

The speed limits in France change during wet weather, too, with each limit being reduced by approximately 10 km/h.

Effects on my UK licence

At present, any speeding offence you commit in France will not see any points added to your UK licence.

Browse our France directory to organise your hire car for your trip to France, and get covered with our car hire excess insurance for Europe.

Speed limits and fines in Spain

Spain is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe for British holidaymakers, with millions of people flocking to the sun every summer.

When driving your rental car around the Spanish planes, you will need to be aware of the speed limits. Just under 1500 cameras monitor drivers, whilst the police also issue on-the-spot fines to those exceeding the speed limits.

The standard fine in Spain is €100, but operates on a sliding scale depending on how much you exceed the limit, the maximum fine being €600.

Speed limits in Spain

Motorways – 120km/h

Conventional roads – 100km/h

All other roads – 90km/h

Built-up areas – 50km/h

Effects on my UK licence

At present, any speeding offence you commit in Spain will not see any points added to your UK licence.

We can’t stop you from speeding in Spain. We can, however, protect you from excess fees with your hire car. Check out our directory for car hire options in Spain and get a free holiday car excess insurance quote.

Speed limits and fines in Germany

Germany has some of the lowest fines in Europe, but when limits are exceeded by over 70km/h, the fine could be as high as €680. At the lower end of the scale, a speeding fine can be as little as €35. However, the chances of you being fined are higher than in many other European countries. The tolerance limit set by the approximate 4000 cameras is only 3% over the limit, whereas in many other places it is 5%.

Speed limits Germany

Autobahn – 130km/h

Built-up areas – 50km/h

Outside built-up areas – 100km/h

The autobahn is known for having no official speed limit, rather an advised maximum speed. The German highway code states:

“Any person driving a vehicle may only drive so fast that the car is under control. Speeds must be adapted to the road, traffic, visibility and weather conditions as well as the personal skills and characteristics of the vehicle and load.”

Effects on my UK licence

At present, any speeding offence you commit in Germany will not see any points added to your UK licence.

If you are heading to Germany for work or pleasure, our Germany directory will help you find a hire car to get you around. We can also protect you from any excess fees you may encounter with one of our plans. Car hire excess insurance for Europe is available at the click of a button.

Speed limits and fines in Italy

Italy is well-loved by people looking for a family holiday, couples seeking a romantic break and friends looking for a scenic getaway.

Hiring a car to get around is one of the better options, but with over 8000 speed cameras tracking you, it’s important you stick within the rules as you see the sights.

Fines vary and can start relatively low, but can rise to very high numbers and factor in other penalties, too. For example, a fine at the lower end can be as small as €41, but the higher end can see you being ordered to pay €829 and face a driving ban for up to one year.

Speed Limits Italy

Motorways – 130km/h (in some cases, this can be increased to 150km/h and reduced to 110km/h in rain or snow)

Main urban road – 110km/h (reduced to 90kmh in rain or snow)

Secondary urban road – 90km/h

Urban highway – 70km/h

Urban road – 50km/h

Effects on my UK licence

At present, any speeding offence you commit in Italy will not see any points added to your UK licence.

Pick up a hire car from any airport in Italy, our comprehensive Italian airport directory gives you all the information you need. Factor in holiday car excess insurance too so you don’t get stung by any costly excess charges.

Do I pay the fine if I was in a hire car?

Yes – you are liable for the offence, not the car hire company. The rental agreement is likely to state that all accrued fines are your responsibility. The total fine might end up being higher than the speeding fine as the car hire company may have administrative costs to absorb.

Not only this, but they will also pass on details of your fine to the DVLA. This could impact your insurance and car hire opportunities next time around.

What happens if I don’t pay a speeding fine?

You should always pay a fine at the earliest opportunity. Failing to do so can see it increase quite drastically. If you return to the UK without paying the fine, you can expect the matter to be pursued by the authorities, to whom the hire company will have passed your details. In Italy, for example, the authorities can issue the fine up to 5 years after the offence has occurred.

It is also not uncommon for UK drivers to face a ban or possibly a prison sentence for fines issued abroad.

Our advice? Pay it right away so you can continue to enjoy your trip.

Failing to pay may also hinder your chances of further car hire in the future, as the DVLA can share the relevant information upon request.

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