Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-06-10 21:00
The number of British motorists’ details requested by foreign authorities for alleged driving offences outside the UK has gone up
The number of mutual legal assistance (MLA) requests for details of UK drivers is on the rise, according to new data.
The UK received 1,903 requests for driver’s details from foreign countries in 2017 (the latest year for which figures are available), representing an increase of around 17 per cent on the previous year.
Data analysed by Thomson Reuters shows the number of requests had previously risen from 138 in 2014 to 1,272 in 2015 and then to 1,635 in 2016, before reaching its peak in 2017. The figures do not reveal how many of these requests were granted, though.
According to Thomson Reuters, the data illustrates foreign prosecutors' growing willingness to pursue motorists from other EU countries who have allegedly committed driving offences. These prosecutors have been able to send requests since the EU Cross Border Directive came into force in 2015, although the UK did not adopt the directive until 2017.
The EU itself has encouraged member states to investigate and penalise foreign drivers with the introduction of its specialist driving offences programme STRIDER (Solutions to Reduce Injury and Death on Europe’s Roads), which was rolled out across 15 member states.
It has not yet been decided whether the UK will still be tied into the current legal framework for sharing drivers’ details after Brexit, but if not then the number of cross-border investigations into British motorists could decrease.
One way around this would be if the UK were to sign an ‘Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Driver Disqualifications’ with EU member states. Such an agreement already exists between the UK and the Republic of Ireland – it came into effect on 1 August 2017 and prevents disqualified drivers from one of the countries getting behind the wheel in the other.
Kevin McCormac, editor of Wilkinson’s Road Traffic Offences, commented: “The use of cross-border information requests has upended the legal risks of speeding abroad – foreign prosecutors can and will hunt you down.
“British drivers can expect no letup as more and more foreign prosecutors make use of the legal frameworks at their disposal.
“It can be tough for British drivers abroad as they are unlikely to know the finer details of local road traffic laws in other countries and, as a result, it can be very easy to be caught out.”
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