The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

EU court annuls vetoed law on driving offences

A European Union court has annulled a law permitting the exchange of data relating to motoring offences, but has ruled that once revised the law will apply across all 28 EU member states, including the UK, who had previously opted out of its provisions, reports the BBC.

EU directive 2011/82 provides police forces across the EU with greater power to share information relating to certain driving offences, including speeding, failing to stop at a red light and drink driving among others.

The UK, Ireland and Denmark had previously opted out of the law using their national veto.

Now an EU court has ruled that although the existing law is legally faulty and needs amendment, once amended it will move from justice and policing, where the UK maintains an opt-out, to transportation, where no opt-out exists.

The result is that once amended, the law will apply to the UK, Denmark and Ireland.

Speaking of the decision, UK Conservative Member of the European Parliament Timothy Kirkhope said: "The UK decided that on balance it was not in our interests to take part because the directive prosecutes vehicle owners, rather than the offending driver, and it seeks to implement fines when other deterrents - such as points on a licence - may be more effective."

The original law was considered a matter of police co-operation, and therefore fell into an aspect of EU law in which member states retain the ability to opt out. However, once reclassified as a 'road safety' measure, no member state will be able to avoid being accountable to the legal provision.

The law covers eight main road offences; speeding, non-wearing of seat-belts, failing to stop at a red light, drink driving, driving under the influence of drugs, not wearing a crash helmet on a motorcycle, driving in a forbidden lane and driving using a mobile telephone.

The UK may oppose any future law as and when it is revised by the EU Commission.