How To Avoid Jail For Unpaid Speeding Tickets In Foreign Countries

If you're driving 40 kilometers over the speed limit in the bucolic hills of Switzerland this summer, you could lose your driver's license and go to prison.

When in a foreign land, it's easy to overlook the speed limit or park in a no-parking zone. Fortunately, most speeding tickets are under $200 and, if paid, will not require a speeding ticket lawyer. If you do receive a ticket and do not pay it, the unpaid ticket could catch up with you. 

Countries With Reciprocal Speeding Ticket Agreements 

In the European Union (EU) and U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) zone, an unpaid speeding ticket in a member country could follow you. At home, authorities could deduct points from your driver's license and impose other penalties.

For example, Quebec and Ontario deduct demerit points for traffic violations in neighboring New York State. Under the EU Cross Border Enforcement Directive, the owner of the offending car can be held liable for traffic offenses in any member states 

Shared Data on Driver Violations

You have two choices when given a speeding ticket: pay it or go to court and dispute the ticket. Truck drivers dispute every ticket to keep their record clean—a requirement of their employment. For most travelers, paying the ticket is cheaper than traveling to the foreign jurisdiction to contest it. 

If you do not pay the speeding ticket, shared data between countries and states could eventually lead to your arrest. If you receive a speeding ticket in New York and are caught speeding in California, the California police could arrest you for the unpaid ticket. If you're unlucky, you could go to jail overnight.

Rental Car Penalties for Speeding Tickets

If you were driving a rental car, do not be surprised to receive a fine in your mailbox. Rental car companies have your passport, home address, and credit card on file. Depending on the country, the rental car company could:

  • forward the ticket to your home address together with a handling fee tacked on.
  • withhold your rental car deposit until you pay the speeding ticket. 
  • prevent you from renting a car until the ticket is paid in full.

If you're arrested for an unpaid speeding ticket, contact a speeding ticket attorney. Most countries will not bar your entry into a country over a speeding ticket. However, customs may alert law enforcement that a person wanted for a traffic violation has entered the country.

The best offense is to take the time to know the law. More speeding and vehicular emissions tests are conducted by driver checkpoints. You may not know you failed until you receive the ticket in the mail.