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Italy: Highway Safety Code Revised, Fines Increased

(Sept. 11, 2009) Among other changes, Italy's new law on traffic offenses imposes heavier penalties for illegal acts that occur in the overnight hours, between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. (Law 94, July 15, 2009, effective Aug. 8, 2009). The new rules, which are modifications of the highway safety code, apply to cars, bikes, and other vehicles. Fines will be increased by one-third for speeding, failing to give way, failing to comply with traffic lights and signs, failing to maintain safe distances, making various unsafe maneuvers such as u-turns and driving on the shoulders of highways, not stopping for emergencies, and not using appropriate lights when parking or stopping under conditions of poor visibility. Professional drivers also face increased fines if they fail to follow applicable rules for limits on driving time and required rest periods. When the offenses are reported by the highway police, the increased fines will go to a fund devoted to reducing accidents at night. (Nestore Morosinim, Road Safety – Heavier Fines for Infringements at Night, CORRIERE DELLA SERA, Aug. 7, 2009, available at

Amendments of the code on other topics include:

Drunk Driving: Driving under the influence will also be more severely punished under the amended law. Drivers with a blood alcohol level over 1.5 grams per liter or who have taken narcotics will have their licenses suspended for twice as long as previously, if the vehicle involved is owned by a third party who was not involved in the offense. In addition, all drunk driving-related fines will be increased by between one-third and one-half if the incident occurs in the overnight hours. Such cases are handled in court and the fines are imposed at the time of sentencing. The safe night-driving fund will receive 20 percent of such fines. (Id.)

Insurance: If a vehicle is driven by its owner and the insurance documents are false or counterfeited, that vehicle is now subject to mandatory administrative seizure. In addition, the driver's license of anyone making counterfeit insurance papers or altering such papers will be suspended for one year. (Id.)

Licensing: Article 120 now states that habitual or professional delinquents, persons with delinquent tendencies, and those who have been subject to a personal security measure or preventive measure will not be permitted to acquire licenses to drive. (Id.)

Littering: Under article 34b of the revised code, fines of €500 to 1,000 (about US$721-$1,442) will be given to those littering public highways by throwing objects from vehicles, whether the vehicles are moving or stopped. The higher fine is applied if the cited person fails to pay within the first 60 days. (Id.)

The revised code also contains provisions on eligibility for driving mopeds. (Id.)