On a recent visit to Belgium, I was fined for an alleged traffic offence as a pedestrian. In brief, I didn't notice an order by hand signal, because it was given outside my field of view. I doubt that the fine was justified.

Belgian police made me pay on the spot. They're entitled to do this because I'm not living in their country.

Before I paid the fine, I told the policeman that I didn't agree and would complain about the fine. He replied, "you pay, then you can complain".

What he didn't tell me was that I would have had to file a formal complaint immediately to turn the fine into some kind of deposit and reserve the right to object. I was informed about this subtlety only when I wrote to the police office a few days later from home.

When the policeman had handed me the payment receipt, I asked him if there was anything else, and he said we were finished. In his favour, I assume he simply forgot about my intent to complain.

Is there anything I could do to object and have the case reviewed?

I should add that, although I had to pay a considerable amount (174 euro), it probably won't pay off to hire a lawyer.

Thanks for any helpful replies.

(Admins, feel free to move this question to 'travel' or wherever it fits best.)

  • 1
    What is your desired outcome of this? A pedestrian ticket is not likely to show up on any kind of criminal record search, or even if it does, would be a minor offense. Are you wanting your money back? Record cleared? Just to right a wrong? – Ron Beyer Sep 19 '18 at 15:06
  • Ron - I'd wish to regain some peace of mind. After this incident I felt so uneasy that I ended my trip a day early. If there was a chance to reclaim the fine, all the better for it. I definitely would not see this as a welcome opportunity to blame the police for what seems to be a misjudgement. – user108733 Sep 19 '18 at 20:08
  • The laws of the country almost certainly provide a process. I imagine that they would be in French and Flemish, so I wouldn't be able to read them, but someone can. The website of the court in the area with jurisdiction over traffic offense would probably explain the process as well. – ohwilleke Sep 19 '18 at 23:29
  • @user108733: Seeing as it happened in a foreign country, you might also have recourse to your diplomatic mission. But I may be talking through my hat. – Everyone Sep 21 '18 at 2:08
  • There is a website: trafficfines.be – user6726 Sep 21 '18 at 4:41

Ignorantia juris non excusat

What do you mean you "didn't know"? Its your duty to inform yourself of all the laws that apply to you at all times and in all jurisdictions.

While this is a practical absurdity, it is fundamental to the rule of law - otherwise people could get away with murder because they "didn't know" killing people was illegal.

Unfortunately for you, if there is a strict time limitation on appealing the fine then you are subject to it even if you didn't know. Oh, and a police officer (or anyone else) is not obliged to tell you what the law is.

  • By not knowing the formalities, I mean the offical proceedings to appeal against the fine, not the offence as such. – user108733 Sep 21 '18 at 5:28
  • Its all part of the law – Dale M Sep 24 '18 at 4:23
  • 3
    In my home country, any decision from any authority, including notices about traffic fines, is not complete without information about the available remedies. I wonder if there is such a thing in Belgium; that would actually answer my question. – user108733 Sep 24 '18 at 5:12
  • @user108733 thats a different question though... – user4210 Apr 19 '19 at 4:52

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