Disclosure for security purposes?

January 31st 2017

Numerous companies face the need to manage traffic offences, which are commonplace for transport companies, but also those which hire sales representatives or any employee using a company vehicle.

When an offence is committed and the offender is not immediately arrested, the holder of the vehicle registration document receives the offence report. When the holder of the vehicle registration document is a legal entity, it is the legal representative, generally the Chairman or the Managing Director, who receives the offence report.

Speeding offences tend to be encountered most frequently.

Upon receiving the offence report, the employee has three defined possibilities:

  • Pay the fine.

This option is quick and easy. Yet, it results in an immediate and very dissuasive outcome: by paying the fine, the employer admits to having committed the offence. Therefore, the points lost through committing the offence shall be removed from his driving license.

Consequently, this option should be avoided.

  • Challenge the offence by filling out section 2 of the disclaimer form. It shall designate the party who actually committed the offence, its employee, and the offence notification shall be returned without paying the fine.

Therefore, the employee shall receive the offence report and shall pay the fine. He shall evidently lose the points corresponding to his offence.

This option is sometimes chosen in order to set an example for the other drivers. Yet, it is more often discarded to prevent employees from having their driving licenses withdrawn if they lose all their points and would then be unable to carry out their duties, particularly when it is the employee’s job to drive the vehicle.

  • Challenge the fine by filling out section 3 of the disclaimer form. He provides the reasons for which he does not consider himself to be the offender without providing information on the party who actually committed the offence. The employee is not involved, so he will not lose any points.

The employer shall initially pay a deposit, then after inquiry, if the real offender is not identified, he shall pay the fine corresponding to the offence (after deduction of the deposit), but shall not lose any points as he is not the offender.

He shall pay the fine under Article L.121-3 of the French Traffic Regulations Code, which renders the holder of the vehicle registration document or the legal representative of the legal entity holder of the vehicle registration document, financially liable for the offence.

This option is more often used as it enables the driving license to remain intact.

As from January 1, 2017 this third option shall no longer be applicable.

By enacting the law of November 18, 2016, referred to as the modernization of the justice system for the 21st century (no.2016-1547 OJ dated 19th of November 2016), the legislator has taken measures “improving the punitive measures for certain traffic offences”.

A new Article L.121-6 has been inserted into the French Traffic Regulations Code, which provides for the obligation for the legal representative of the holder of the vehicle registration document to “indicate the identity and address of the individual driving this vehicle in a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt or electronically, according to the terms specified in the Order, within a period of forty-five (45) days as from sending or the issuance of the notification of offence, to the body mentioned on this notification, unless he is able to prove the existence of theft, impersonation of the vehicle registration number or any other force majeure event. The non-compliance with this Article shall result in the application of the fine provided for minor offences of the fourth class”.

The objective is self-evident: to put an end to the protection of offenders and render them “liable” in order to limit the risk of accidents caused by drivers who pay little attention to speed limit safety regulations.

The employer may always decide not to disclose the information, but if so, he shall not only be required to pay the fine corresponding to the offence committed but shall also be required to pay a fine for non-disclosure, in addition and at his own expense, for a maximum amount of 750 €.

The payment by the company would therefore not be the right choice, and would constitute a misappropriation of assets, which would be an obvious reason for a reassessment by the French URSSAF (French Union for the recovery of social contributions).

Furthermore, the Order of December 15, 2016 taken for the application of this new principle, requires the indication of the driving license references of the person who committed the offence.

There are two practical issues, a minima, to bear in mind:

  • Always have a copy – recent (less than 6 months or one year) – of the driving license for the employees using a company vehicle;
  • Always keep a log book in vehicles likely to be driven by several drivers.

Finally, we shall point out that collecting the employee's driving license number, its denunciation to the authorities and keeping a registry of such denunciations – for reason of keeping evidence – are classified as personal data processing by the French Data Protection Act dated 6 January 1978. Such data processing is subject to the prior information  of the employees and reporting formalities with the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL).

Mireille Goutailler