More UK motorists pursued for breaking foreign road laws

UK drivers heading to Europe this summer are being warned to pay attention to local speed limits and other driving laws.

It comes after new figures showed that a growing number of drivers in this country are being investigated for motoring offences committed overseas.

News and data provider Thomson Reuters found that in 2017 the UK received 1,903 requests for information about British drivers from other countries, a 17% increase on the previous year.

An agreement called mutual legal assistance (MLA) provides a means of co-operation between states when it comes to criminal inquiries, making it much easier for drivers from one country to be prosecuted by authorities in another.

With MLA, any driver suspected of various offences -- including speeding, drink-driving, not wearing a seatbelt, driving through a red light or using a mobile phone at the wheel -- can be prosecuted even when they have left the country where the alleged offence took place.

According to the Telegraph, a foreign police force can apply to the UK for the driver's details and under the MLA system, the Driver and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) must provide them.

And while UK laws state that a notice of intended prosecution must be sent to the driver within 14 days, some European countries allow 12 months. As a result, a fine could be issued a long time after the original offence took place.

Prosecutors in the European Union have been able to use this system since 2015 when the EU Cross Border Directive came into force.

More MLA requests relate to road traffic offences than any other category, ITV News reported.

"The use of cross-border information requests has upended the legal risks of speeding abroad -- foreign prosecutors can and will hunt you down," said Kevin McCormac, editor of Wilkinson's Road Traffic Offences.

"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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