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Non-payment of fine


Chrissie

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Advice urgently please!

About 6 months ago I was stopped by the police for not waiting long enough at a Stop sign - their phrase: "you hesitated rather than actually stopped, Madame". They took my details (French driver's licence) and said there might or might not be a fine/points in the future, and I would receive a letter if that was the case.

I have since received no letter/advice or anything else and had totally forgotten about the incident until today when I got a letter from our bank telling me there was an "opposition administrative" on ALL of our accounts (each one of which has more than enough in it to cover the fine.) The fine mentioned is 375 euros, which by googling I figure ties in with the amount with all sorts of majorations on the above level of offence.

Needless to say, the bank is closed on a Monday, so I have spent all afternoon phoning a series of unhelpful transport/tax departments who invariably inform me the fine must be paid with a reference to the 10 figure number appearing on the Avis - which I haven't received.

Firstly, what does the opposition on our accounts mean in practice? Will direct debit payments be turned away in the meantime? The letter also refers to an amount "Solde Bancaire Insaisissable" or SBI which I do not understand at all.

Have I any hope of contesting the size of the payment? - I would have paid the original 90 euros or whatever straight away had I known about it - I suspect the answer to this will refer to flogging of dead horses though.

Would the Avis have been sent Accusé de reception, in which case they clearly won't have my signature on it? Would they have sent follow-ups after the original non-payment or is the first avis all you get?

How on earth am I going to get the payment to them if I have no reference and everyone I talk to tells me they cannot comment on individual dossiers?

Am now sitting SEETHING with frustration and rage. I love living in France, but the bullyboy tactics involved in this sort of admin c**k-up make me want to spit!

Chrissie (81)

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Just who wouldn't talk to you? Did you go to your local gendarmerie with some ID??? I think that that would have been my first port of call.

If you hadn't already found it, lots of things about the contravention are on this link.

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F18509

My second port of call would have been to go and see my local Tresor Public and see if they could help.

Re your accounts, here is another link.

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1850

It states that the Solde Bancaire Insaisissable is the amount that the authorities must leave in the account, and if the balance will not cover this amount and the fine, then they will take nothing and the account will be blocked. How they deal with multiple accounts is not clear.

And I have to say what with the €524.16(the amount they cannot touch)+€375 (fine) that makes €899.16 and that is quite a lot of money and I cannot say that I would always have that in my current account.

Look at both these sites and if you haven't, go and see your gendarmerie with the letter from the bank and then go and see the bank.

Those links tell you who to contact too.

And whilst I was looking this up, you are not alone.

Also, if memory serves, 5Element, if you remember her, had terrible problems with blocked bank accounts (not her fault, should have been someone else)

As far as I am aware, once blocked nothing goes out, but I cannot help wondering if money will actually be allowed in though, if it will, I would try and get it transferred elsewhere.

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Thanks idun, but I can't really see how the local gendarmerie could be of any help.

I did find the first website you mention, but whichever link you click on it states clearly that the operators do not have access to individual dossiers and will only give general advice. As I found when I called most of the numbers on there.

The actual Tresorie Amendes department (miles away in Toulouse) have kindly sent a phone number to my bank which is not correct. The phone numbers found by searching online get you through only to an automated system which offers you a variety of ways to pay, all of which require the reference number.

I still find it hard to believe that a single non-registered (?) letter going astray can lead to such an outcome . I also wonder if it was sent to the correct address but in my maiden name, which would confuse the post people and they might then have stuck it through any old letter box in our lieu-dit........

As you can tell, am going round and round this in my head and getting nowhere, although I shall certainly be at the bank when the doors open tomorrow.

Chrissie.
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[quote user="Chrissie"]I also wonder if it was sent to the correct address but in my maiden name[/quote]Hard to imagine it being sent to a name or address other than what's on your driving licence, is that correct ?

An avis de contravention does not come AR and I don't think the bank is where you need to be either, they are only following instructions which they are legally bound to do.

Hope you get it sorted.

Not that it helps but in UK in such circumstances you can make a statutory declaration that you never received the fine notification upon which the judgement is vacated and you get the chance to plead and pay or fight.

This is France however !

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You are not alone. But the good news is that it is possible to convince the authorities that a mistake has been made, and hence get a refund of the additional penalty.

http://forum.doctissimo.fr/viepratique/Justice-et-droit/opposition-administrative-amende-sujet_8423_1.htm

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There is no time specified in the code de la route.

 

Article R415-6

A certaines intersections indiquées par une signalisation dite stop, tout conducteur doit marquer un temps d'arrêt à la limite de la chaussée abordée. Il doit ensuite céder le passage aux véhicules circulant sur l'autre ou les autres routes et ne s'y engager qu'après s'être assuré qu'il peut le faire sans danger.

Le fait, pour tout conducteur, de contrevenir aux dispositions du présent article est puni de l'amende prévue pour les contraventions de la quatrième classe.

Tout conducteur coupable de l'une des infractions prévues au présent article encourt également la peine complémentaire de suspension, pour une durée de trois ans au plus, du permis de conduire, cette suspension pouvant être limitée à la conduite en dehors de l'activité professionnelle.

 

I must print this out because I was once pulled over for doing a momentary stop which the G man said wasnt long enough, as usual he didnt take kindly to my asking him how long, he said 3 seconds and when he wrote out the PV I refused to sign it, it got very tendu then with him telling me that I would be taken away to the commissariats in handcuffs, the car impounded and I would be detained until a court appearance on Monday, I stood my ground and he backed down but not with good grace.

 


 

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Thanks Chancer, likewise I am printing this out as it's a cash cow for a bored policeman.  I won't ever claim great french but it seems to say stop to ascertain no danger? On some open countryside you can see for a Km in either direction so I doubt I would bring the car to a complete halt anyway and certainly wouldn't have years ago when my brain could process info much quicker but forewarned is better.  3 seconds! I am with you. I suppose at 4-5 seconds you'll get done for loitering

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What a nighmare! The only thing I can add to what has been said is that I've heard of similar situations here, and it appears to be best to pay it all first (when you find out how to do it) and claim back later.

Otherwise a trip to Toulouse - get the train?

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[quote user="Théière"]How long are you supposed to remain at a stop sign to keep plod happy, presumably on an other wise deserted road before you can escape the fiscal penalty?

[/quote]

We had a gendarme come to our French class once to talk about things such as this that he thought us foreigners needed to understand.

For STOP signs, he said that stop meant stop:  no hesitation, no keeping the car barely rolling, etc, just STOP.  Just to be sure we understood, he pointed out that these were the junctions where there was a thick, solid line.  He went so far as to ask "is STOP not an English word"?  I feared he was going to carry on and ask "what don't you understand"[blink]

Me, in my usual "yeah, right" mood, asked:  what if it's the middle of the day and there is nothing in sight in both directions?  Doesn't matter, madam, he looked at me severely, "stop means stop".  I think he would have said "no ifs or buts", except I don't suppose there is a French equivalent to that particular expression.

Chrissie, I do hope you can resolve this, as it's one of those situations which can really grind you down.

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Thanks everyone for the support and the extremely useful websites.

This morning, after one of those nights where you toss and turn and argue interminably with imaginary bureaucrats, I started again on the track of the Toulouse Trésorie and after calls to four different numbers and then a wait of 11 minutes with dire music, I finally got hold of a real person - a charming woman who went through loads of computer hoops to discover that yes, the avis d'amende had been issued by the gendarmes in my maiden name and had therefore been passed from our lieu-dit to various others before being finally returned as non-deliverable.

I asked her why that had not flagged up any alarm bells and she said that was up to the transport fines people at that stage, not her department. Hmmm.

Finally, the case gets passed to her department to issue the Opposition Administrative to my bank............

Er, hang on, how did you know my bank account details, which are in my married name?

Ah, that required some work on the part of the tax office.

Would it not have been more productive to do that work at the moment the original notice came back undelivered?

Silence. Then - I do not think this is possible, Madame.

Not wanting to antagonise her any further, I cravenly paid the whole thing by credit card (and have since received an email receipt) and she assured me she would issue instructions today to have my bank account released. I shall still check tomorrow!

She then advised me that should try to reclaim the difference between the original 90 euro fine and the final settlement of 375 euros from the local Tribunal de Police and she looked up and gave me their address. I should attach a photocopy of my carte grise and driver's licence, both of which clearly state my married name.

So although snowballs and hell are coming to mind I shall doubtless spend a few hours composing a suitably humble and ingratiating letter, begging for their gracious consideration etc etc.

No hope whatsoever of recovering the fee of 37.50 which LCl have charged for the work in blocking my account, nor the 6 cents per minute fee on all the phone calls, the last of which went on for a considerable time. (Peanuts, but why on earth would they not have a free number for this sort of thing?)

AAAAAARRRGGHHH.

Chrissie

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Good.

That is what I would have hoped that the gendarmerie would have done for you. Gone through the records and found the contravention, so that you had the relevant number, and given you the correct department to contact.

I don't see why they could not have done that. And they would certainly have been my first port of call.

Re the driving licence, well, my french one had my maiden name and then across from that 'epouse Idun'.

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[quote user="Chrissie"] I should attach a photocopy of my carte grise and driver's licence, both of which clearly state my married name.

[/quote]

When I swapped my UK licence for a shiny new french card licence last year I was astonished to discover that it had only my maiden name on it; although my signature clearly, though it's tiny in size, is that of my married name. When I queried the potential confusion that this might bring about I was informed that married names had had to be ignored due to lack of space on the card.

The advisor then added that it was believed that the card format might be changed in future.

But I was stuck with what I had.

My carte grise states both maiden and married names, but then there is bags of room there. [:)]

[quote user="Chrissie"]

No hope whatsoever of recovering the fee of 37.50 which LCl have charged for the work in blocking my account ... [/quote]

Have a go at challenging the fee; I did just that with a charge that I was sure was totally unfounded, and our bank refunded me as a gesture of goodwill !

Sue

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All this maiden name crap, what on earth is the point in the 21st century, by clinging to such dogmas the French make themselves look pathetic and they don't usually need a lot of help in doing in the first place.

I still don't understand though if the address was correct why it wasn't delivered regardless ?

Perhaps your postie is the real villain of the piece,

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[quote user="AnOther"] .....................................................I still don't understand though if the address was correct why it wasn't delivered regardless ? .........................................

[/quote]

Some postpersons take it on themselves to decide not to deliver letters if the name on the letter does not correspond to that of any person who they believe lives in the house.

When we moved into this house from a village 3km away, on the same post round, the postie delivered our mail OK, but scrawled our name in pencil on the mailbox. We took the hint and put a card in the slot provided.

One advantage, however, was that mail addressed to our previous house was delivered to the new one, even after our year's redirection service expired, reminding us to inform people we had overlooked.

In Copenhagen, where our son and his family live, the postal service simply won't deliver mail to an address if the name on the letter is not on the list of occupiers which must be placed on or near the mailbox.

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I think the comment about "some postpersons" is a tad unfair.

If Mr + Mme Bloggs live in a village/hamlet where there are no street names, house numbers or house names and the postperson has a letter in their bag for Mme Jones, how are they to link Bloggs and Jones unless the postbox has a label indicating that Mme Jones lives with Mr Bloggs?

Our postie is incredibly helpful, but she is not a mind reader.
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First off, congratulations on getting your accounts unblocked, Chrissie!  That said ...

[quote user="nomoss"] Some postpersons take it on themselves to decide not to deliver letters if the name on the letter does not correspond to that of any person who they believe lives in the house.[/quote]

I do tend to feel that your facteur/factrice bears a certain amount of responsibility in this sorry tale.  Putting aside the lack of exercise of any common sense, I note that in the Conditions générales de vente de la Poste  the requirement to have matching names on the letter box and on the letter would appear to apply only to immeubles collectifs.  I quote (my underlining):

"L’absence de boîte aux lettres, son inaccessibilité ou, dans le cas d’un

immeuble collectif, l’absence d’indications nominatives
ou d’un numéro

sur la boîte aux lettres, permettant de faire le lien entre les mentions

portées sur l’envoi postal et celles figurant sur la boîte aux lettres,

décharge La Poste de son obligation de distribution à

l’adresse indiquée par l’expéditeur".

Alinéa 4.3

https://www.laposte.fr/particulier/conditions-generales-de-vente

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The problem is that these things  get mistold, deliberately to suits someones agenda or by accident and the French being what they are if they are told something by their boss (who was in turn told it by someone higher) then its fact, is the law and they will convincingly tell others this without ever doubting what they say.

 

I have to constantly reassess what I have been told as fact or as law in the light of new info like the above, I was told that La Poste would not Under any circumstances deliver mail unless the recipents name was on the boîte à lettres.

 

I know in practice that it isnt true, I have what looks to most people un immeuble, the sign says "Appartements meublés" I have deliberately made sure there is only one boîte à lettres outside bearing the name of the Hôtel and my name , this is because Under meublée de tourisme it cannot be the renters principal foyer and it will give me some measure of protection when I have to kick someone out for unpaid rent.

 

Despite this I recieve letters for all the tenants/renters in the one boîte à lettrse that doesnt bear their names, there is one most weeks from the CAF, Inside the entrance hall I have individual boxes with keylock for each flat where I put the mail after sorting.

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[quote user="andyh4"]I think the comment about "some postpersons" is a tad unfair.

If Mr + Mme Bloggs live in a village/hamlet where there are no street names, house numbers or house names and the postperson has a letter in their bag for Mme Jones, how are they to link Bloggs and Jones unless the postbox has a label indicating that Mme Jones lives with Mr Bloggs?

 Our postie is incredibly helpful, but she is not a mind reader.[/quote]

I think everyone in the area would know what Mme Jones and Mr Bloggs area were up to, without names being on post boxes[:)]

I'm glad your postie is helpful, etc. So are ours.

But this discussion is not about posties needing names on boxes in places where there are no street names, house numbers or house names, which seems fairly obvious.

It is about a letter with the correct address not being delivered because the postie decides the addressee doesn't live there.

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