Italian Police Went Overboard With Ticketing, Court Finds

Two transport drivers in Italy given multiple fines for each day of driving data they couldn’t produce scored a legal win at the European high court.

The Brenner Pass boarder crossing in Italy on June 3, 2020. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa via AP)

(CN) — Europe’s highest court ordered Italian police Wednesday to stop issuing multiple fines against truck and bus drivers for each day they don’t provide data on their driving hours over a 29-day period.

Instead, drivers must only pay a single fine for such an infraction, the European Court of Justice said, regardless of how many days’ data is missing.

Under EU safety rules, truck and bus drivers are restricted in the number of hours they can drive a day, and they are required to keep records about how much they have driven the day they are inspected and for the previous 28 days. Drivers use a device known as a tachograph to record their driving.

The Luxembourg-based court issued its ruling in a case brought by two transport drivers who were slapped with multiple fines by police in Florence in 2013 after numerous days of records were missing. Italian police said they had the power to issue a separate fines for each day of missing data.

But that’s not right, the Court of Justice ruled. Instead, it said police have the authority to issue a single penalty “irrespective of the number of missing record sheets.”

The court said EU rules only require “a single obligation” to keep driving data, thus making it a single infraction when a driver disobeys those rules. It added EU rules state governments need to deter bad behavior by making sure fines are sufficiently hefty, especially if a driver fails to show data for multiple days.

“The penalty must be sufficiently adjustable according to the seriousness of the infringement,” the ruling said.

The case now goes back to Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation, which had asked the EU’s high court for a ruling on the complaints brought by the two drivers. Details about the drivers’ complaints were not provided in the court documents.

Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.

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