The European Union is stepping up its game against drivers committing serious traffic offenses such as excessive speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol. A new directive from the European Commission (EC) will now penalize these offenders with a driving ban across the entire Union, not just the country where the offense was committed. The European Parliament approved the proposal, though lawmakers are calling for more precise deadlines and a broader list of offenses that the directive will cover.
At present, the system is fairly lenient towards drivers. If drivers lose their driving license for at least a month in another EU country, the ban usually applies only to the country where the offense was committed, allowing drivers to continue driving in the rest of the Union.
The new rules aim to ensure that any suspension, restriction or revocation of a driving license abroad will apply across all EU countries. The decision will be forwarded to the country that issued the driving license, which will then take away the driver’s privileges, making it illegal for them to drive in any member state.
“I am convinced that this directive will not only help reduce the number of traffic accidents but will also contribute to a better awareness of citizens about responsible driving and the willingness to obey the rules and accept the consequences of their violation, regardless of where in the EU we drive,” said Petar Vitanov, the rapporteur of the directive in the European Parliament.
A poll asked if readers agree with the driving ban for serious offenses applying to the entire EU. 44% agreed, while 56% disagreed. A total of 2156 readers voted.
The proposed EC mechanism does include several exceptions. For instance, if the offense committed is not punished with a driving ban in the state that issued the license, the driver may not lose their privileges in their home country.
The European Parliament is pushing for the mechanism to cover driving without a valid driver’s license. The Commission’s proposal suggests that the driving ban should have a Union-wide effect on offenses such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, excessive speeding, or offenses leading to death or serious injury. The lawmakers also want to clarify some of the deadlines contained in the text.
Lawmakers want to amend the exception, allowing the state that issued the driver’s license not to impose a driving ban for excessive speed. The Commission suggests that the Union-wide ban would not apply to offenses involving exceeding the speed limit by up to 50 kilometers per hour. The Parliament wants this tolerance to apply only to roads outside the city, while in the city, it should be a maximum of 30 kilometers per hour.