Driving Licence suspension

(Derek Sherwin) #1

I was caught speeding at 116km/hr in a 70km/hr speed limit (+40km/hr ) and had my license suspended after having been severely told off by the police. Hands up completely my fault and yes I have all the excuses we all have but now I am just waiting to hear what will happen.
I received notification after 72 hours that the license is suspended for 3 months and a letter saying that I had to have a medical certificate to prove I am fit to drive. I did all that was asked and sent the medical forms the famous Cerfa’s and the associated documents to re-apply for my license back but to date I have not heard or paid anything.
I a lot of people say I will be summoned to court others just to the local Prefectural and the Gov website does not really tell you what the procedure is either.
I have 10 days left of the 3 months and planning to go to the Prefectural 1 week before but is it normal that I have had nothing in writing to date and nothing to pay?

(stella wood) #2

I know folk often chuckle with my fairly stock reply… visit your Mairie… but they will at least look over the Paperwork and see if you should have done anything else.

During this summer. someone came in with a query (not quite as awful as yours)…I got involved as translator. By chance the Gendarmes were holding a meeting onsite with the Maire. so the secretary could get immediate answers to the chap’s questions. :blush:

(Anna Watson) #3

might help.
From what you say it sounds as if there has been no court decision as yet, so I guess that if your case hasn’t been judged before the end of the 3 months administrative suspension they will give you your licence back for the time being, and then when it does go to court you will be told what penalty the judge has decided on, ie the amount of the fine and whether there will be any additional period of judicial suspension.
Hope that helps.

(Derek Sherwin) #4

I have been to the marie and to the police station where the gendarmes came from that pulled me over as well and they all seem pretty much of the same opinion just wait and see and you should go to see them at the Prefectural although most seem to think I should be summoned to court.
I really don’t have any issue with the gendarmes either except one was a bit brutal once he picked up I was English and started asking me loads of questions of complete irrelevance his colleague was actually quite nice. It is a bit shocking though when this happens ok I get the speed problem but the ban was a bit of a shock and not the sort of thing you look at until you have actually done it. If I had been aware it was an instant ban I may have been a bit slower. The 50 and 70 limits are there for reason but some areas you just assume they are 90 (straight roads no houses etc) even so I was well over the limit.
I broke the law and have to live with it but it’s just the waiting that is a tad annoying and there is not a lot on this subject in terms of procedure that is clear. I guess in 10 days I will know either way.
Thanks for the comments

(Anna Watson) #5

For serious offences (which include speeding +40km/h above the limit) it is not an automatic penalty, nor is it up to the gendarmes. It is a matter for a judge to decide so basically, yes you will have to wait until it has been to court and judgment has been passed. That’s the procedure, seems clear enough? although obviously the timescale isn’t set in stone and will vary in each case depending on all kinds of outside factors beyond the control of the gendarmes. Sometimes the judge’s decision will have been made within the 3 months and sometimes it won’t, no doubt it is a tad annoying and inconvenient for the offender to have to wait but if the court has a backlog there isn’t much anyone can do about it. I imagine the courts will have spent September catching up after the summer break during July/August.

Have you enquired whether a date for the court hearing has been set? If not there is no guarantee that the decision will have been made within the next 10 days. If it hasn’t you will not in fact “know either way”, you will have to carry on waiting to see what the judgment is, but once your administrative suspension period is complete you will be able to drive again while you wait to find out the penalty.

(stella wood) #6

Hi Derek…

I hope your Thread on this Forum… will give everyone pause for thought. Let’s all lift the foot a little… and take things slightly slower…:blush:

At least you can take comfort from the fact that you were not 50km/hr over the limit. At that point they can confiscate the vehicle… as well as a lot of other nasty stuff.

(Derek Sherwin) #7


I also hope people will slow down and learn from this. I have lived here now for 17 years and have a job of responsibility that means I travel extensivelly. This has been a real wake up call for me and not something I intend to repeat:slight_smile:

And you are right on the over 50km part but at over 40km’s you are not allowed to drive the vehicle either so I had to call a friend to get the vehicle (in this case a motorbike) to come and retrieve it for me. If I was reckless and had driven it I would apparantly have gone straight to jail!

Slowing down is now firmly a way of life…

(stella wood) #8

Well done Derek… that’s the spirit. :smile:

At the risk of deviating this thread…are you able to tell us what sort of “irrelevant” questions were put to you ??

(Anna Watson) #9

You probably know this already but if your livelihood involves driving, then even if the judge does decide to prolong the suspension they usually allow you to drive for business purposes. (So at least you’ll be spared the embarrassment of turning up to see clients in a sans permis :grinning:)

(Derek Sherwin) #10

The questions in relation to what I do for a living, why I am living in France and why I had purchased this particular brand of bike spring to mind. I cannot remember all of them we talked a lot about my job and what I do!
However what I do remember very well is that at the end of the event he did shake my hand and say it was unfortunate and that at least I was respectful towards him and his colleagues. We did though have an interesting chat about drink drivers (the guy before me that was stopped) and the issue that drives me crazy which is people texting on mobile phones whilst driving!
That’s a lesson in life you learn these people can make your life very difficult and at the end of the day they have a job to do so no point in arguing with them and they do deserve respect they do have a tough job lets be honest. He left shortly afterwards and accelerated at speed as he left me I think he must have been over the limit after 10 seconds! C’est la vie……

(Derek Sherwin) #11

Thankyou I did not know that after the official period I may be able to drive even before a court hearing is set. I have also sent a couple of letters an email and called them but still no return.
Although they have actually taken my “permis” so assume the visit to the Prefectural will clear that up. I know that I may be able to contest it and could get a lawyer to help but very much hope any judge will see I have learnt a lesson!


(Fabien Pelissier) #12

Hi @derek, sorry to hear that unfortunate experience. Be aware that after having your licence revoked it will be much more complex to get insured as well and it’s highly likely that the premium will increase significantly. Have you already informed your current insurer? If so, don’t forget to ask for a “relevé d’information” and keep it preciously for futur insurance endeavour :wink:

(Derek Sherwin) #13

This Monday I went to the Prefectural to enquire the status of my little permis problem. I only had to wait for 2 hours to see someone so not too bad I guess. All my documents that I sent by post had been received and my new permis has been made and I will receive it by post. Can I not have it today please this is where it says I have to come? No it’s going to arrive by post it was made last week. It still has not arrived the day before the ban stops.
Apparently I will have to pay the fine when it arrives and no need to have a court hearing. I asked what I have to do if I don’t have the permis in hand am I legally able to drive? You have to drive with a copy of the certificate medical which if I get stopped again (I hope not) will be enough. I can drive/ride again from tomorrow morning.
So it would appear that if you complete the documents and send them it is not possible to have a letter or email to tell you what to do you just have to be patient go and see someone who tells you something and nothing in writing.
I will be driving to the limit now for the rest of my life

(Anna Watson) #14

I didn’t realise they made you a nice new licence, I imagined they just gave you the old one back!

TBH you can see why they make sure people don’t receive their new licences until the ban has ended… do licences have start dates on them??? If it arrives tomorrow, it’ll be proof of how French bureaucracy has efficiency down to a fine art and in fact, hassling them was a waste of time and you could have just left it up to them to do the necessary. On the other hand, if it doesn’t…

Thanks for sharing your experience, it probably made a lot of us reflect on our own habits.

(David Martin) #15

Driving to the limit? That’s open to more than one definition.

(James Emery) #16

Perhaps I’m a bit late, but thought I’d explain the notion of a “suspension” of a driving licence in France.

There are two types of suspensions : administrative (done by the préfecture) and judiciaire (done by a court or in this case "tribunal de police).

If you commit a serious speeding violation, which was Derek’s case, the police confiscate the licence at the roadside. They then give it to the Préfecture who have 72 hours to decide on the length of the administrative suspension. Any suspension over 2 months carries a mandatory medical.

After the administrative suspension, you get your licence back and can continue driving.

Later on (sometimes up to a year later if they are busy), the case is heard before the court (normally in your absence), and they decide on a fine and suspension to impose.

This is normally done through a procedure called an “Ordonnance Pénale”, which is essentially a fine issued by the court, which you receive by registered letter.

The administrative ban already imposed is deducted from the final “judicial” suspension.

In Derek’s case, if the court decides on a 3 month ban, he will be able to continue driving as he has already “served” three months.

However, if they were to impose 4 months, he would have to hand in his licence to a police station for an additional month to make up the full time of the ban.