Sometime tomorrow the powers that represent the UK within the European Union will either sign up to, or decline, participation in an EU directive that will mean motorists who break the driving laws abroad could, from 2013, be accountable for their actions as if they were a local citizen.
In other words, it’ll be a case of when in Rome, you will be treated as if Roman. Which, if you happen to find yourself in Helsinki instead of Rome for some reason, could mean massive fines for things like speeding.
Witness the case of mobile phone mogul and local resident of Helsinki, Anssi Vanjoki, who was caught riding his Harley (which makes him a bit of a fool anyway) at 47mph in a 31mph limit. For this not especially heinous transgression against the Finnish state, the former boss of Nokia was asked to cough up 116,000 euros – which at the time represented the equivalent of 14 days salary, which is how they means test you for speeding fines in Finland – although the actual amount he ended up paying was reduced somewhat following an appeal.
Point is, if we sign up to the scheme there will be no more small roadside fines or ticking-offs for UK motorsists who flout the law on foreign roads. Same will go for drivers who run red lights or use mobile phones, or who pick up parking tickets, break the crash helmet laws or use the hard shoulder abroad. Fines (but not licence punishments, not to begin with at any rate) will be handed out just as they would to local residents – via a central data bank that will enable police forces to treat all the EU’s motorists as if they were one of their own.