Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Archive for April, 2007

Tickets and fines in Greece

fines.gifPhoto from Kathimerini

Drivers in Greece rank among the EU’s most dangerous, and the number of accidents has decreased with increased traffic, which is good and bad, thousands of cars now withdrawn from circulation due to austerity and more citizens turning to public transport. Before fitting in with locals by parking on the sidewalk or running a red light, take a look at the penalties and fines for motor vehicles.

The Ministry of Transport was due to raise penalties in Fall 2011, but there have been several cabinet changes since George Papandreou left office and passage of a new code is delayed.

*Article last updated June 8, 2014. However, answers in ‘Comments’ reflect a specific case and whatever laws were in effect at the time; there are also two updates pending.

Warning

This article has been copied without permission by expat guides and car hire companies, which refuse to honor copyright or give attribution. Therefore, you are not necessarily getting confirmation from different sources.

Be careful who you trust.

Moving violations

Fine Offense
100€ Motorcyclists using cell phone without hands-free
150€ Motorcyclists driving while talking on cell phone without a remote device
200€ Entering the Athens Ring on the wrong day *
200€, plus 5 points Driving in a bus lane
200€ (motorcycle/car) 400€ (truck/bus), loss of license for up to 30 days Driving without a license, an expired license or the wrong class license
200-2000€, loss of license & jail for up to 6 months Driving under the influence
350€, loss of license for 10 days Driving without a seat belt
350€, 5 points, loss of license for 10 days Driving without a helmet
700€ and 9 points Crossing level-crossing barriers
700€, 9 points, loss of license for 60 days Running a red light or stop sign

*EllasDevil recommends stopping and blocking the street instead of pulling over, thus causing a commotion and getting the OK to continue.

Non-moving violations

Fine Offense
50€ * Failure to produce a KTEO card
80-150€ & removal of your license plates ** Parking ticket, depends on the offense and previous violations
150€ and 9 points Parking in a handicapped zone
150€ Parking in an emergency zone
250€ & loss of license for 10 days Motorcycles/scooters driving without insurance
500€ & loss of license for 10 days Cars driving without insurance
2-3 year suspension of driver’s license Uninsured vehicle involved in accident
Tow and impound*** Parking on street with a laiki in progress

* New bill lowered fine from 400 euros to 50 euros, as long as offender presents vehicle at KTEO for inspection within 10 days of violation. Traffic wardens were hesitant to issue fines with debt crisis.
** Weld them to your car/motorcycle (ED’s tip)
*** May also be moved manually by strong, charitable men (free, except for some yelling and unsolicited advice)

Notes

  • All fines are reduced by half if paid within 10 days
  • If you accumulate 25 points in a three-year period, you lose your license
  • 10 driving lessons and a driving test are required to get it back
  • It takes three (3) years from the date of violation for points to drop off your record

Where to pay

If your ticket was issued by the police, bring your ticket and pay at the post office (taxydromeio).

If your ticket was issued by the local municipality, bring your ticket and pay at that municipality’s mayor’s office (dimarxeio) or city hall. Locations can be found by:
a) looking in a map book purchased from the kiosk (periptero),
b) doing a Google search,
c) calling KEP Citizen Centres at ‘1500’,
d) asking a neighbor, car/moto rental company or hotel concierge who should know the answer.

If for some reason you did not or could not pay the fine while in Greece, make arrangements to pay with a friend/relative in Greece or the Greek embassy/consulate nearest you.

There is no way to pay the fine for your ticket online. Online transactions and e-government services are advanced concepts in Greece. If it changes, this article will be updated.

Where to find confiscated license plates

License plates of vehicles registered in Greece are held at the tax office (eforia) where you are officially on file, i.e., the location nearest your residence. If you failed to change your address after moving, they were sent to the former location. You show proof of payment or clearance of a fine/penalty and pick them up.

License plates of vehicles registered in a foreign country are sent back to the home country via the embassy/consulate, after which you should be notified by mail or phone to retrieve them.

*Disclaimer: I do not own a car in Greece. Information is sourced from people I know and readers who contributed their first-hand experience.

Questions and Answerswebsite metrics

This section was created after several people asked the same questions and did not read the responses I gave other commentators in the same or similar circumstances.

Will the fine/penalty increase with time?

If not paid within 10 days, the full fine/penalty is due. Beyond that, it will not double or triple as some countries. However, the DOY/eforia/Greek tax office will be notified of an outstanding violation, and clearing the fine will require a traffic court appearance.

What if I want to protest the ticket?

You must do it immediately with local police/authorities who issued the ticket, in person, in writing and in Greek.

To find the address, phone number, hours of operation or map of a Greek police station nearest you, see:

Should you not speak/write Greek and don’t have someone to bring with you, Greek tourist police can assist 24 hours a day with interpretation and translation in English, French and German by calling ‘171.’ However, tourist police represent a different division of police and cannot intervene beyond that.

Can I ask my consulate/embassy for help?

Consulates and embassies are guests in this country much as you are, do not have jurisdiction in Greece, and therefore cannot assist in legal matters. The most they can do is refer you to police, tourist police, give recommendations for lawyers/attorneys and help you get in touch with relatives back home, if necessary.

What if I lost the ticket/letter?

You can request a copy or assistance in paying it by contacting the police or local municipality who gave it to you.

Where can I check for tickets?

It depends on where you got your ticket and who issued it. There isn’t one central database or ministry where you can check for outstanding fines and tickets in Greece.

Certain tickets will be attached to your car registration in Greece and you’ll be asked to pay upon receiving the annual circulation tax bill. Others may never find you or be on record.

If I rented a car/quad/motorcycle/scooter, got a ticket and didn’t pay, what will happen to me?

Depends. If you didn’t tell the rental agency about it on purpose and didn’t pay, they have the right to charge the credit card on file when they receive notification or learn from the tax office that a ticket is attached to the vehicle’s license plate number. Authorization is normally included in the standard rental agreement you signed.

You can protest the charge with your creditor, but a counterclaim will likely be filed by the rental company with the ticket and rental agreement as evidence, and the charge will stand.

If the agency does not have a credit card on file, then it’s common sense that they cannot charge or track you.

If I signed nothing and didn’t pay, will I get away with it?

It depends on:

a) Whether you’re a resident of Greece, EU citizen or non-EU citizen:
— If you’re a resident of Greece, the likelihood of a ticket or fine following you is much greater since your passport, Greek or EU national ID or license number may be cross-referenced at the tax office. Your nationality is irrelevant.
— If you are a Greek citizen, it will be much easier for authorities to track you, whether you live in Greece or not.
— If you are a non-Greek EU citizen living anywhere in the EU, any outstanding tickets, fines and orders to appear in a Greek court will follow you home. As of December 2010, the ministers of transport in all EU countries agreed to set up a cross-border system to pursue outstanding tickets and collect fines in their country of residence for the following violations: Speeding, running red lights, driving under the influence, using restricted lanes, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile device while driving. Readers also report that not wearing a helmet is part of this list.
— If you are a non-Greek EU citizen living outside the EU, the likelihood is less though your passport may be flagged.
— If you are a non-EU citizen living outside of Greece, the likelihood is lowest. Greece has checkpoints at its land borders to screen foreign vehicles with unpaid fines but not passports; this may change when the Schengen database is implemented in full by 2014. And if you are a non-EU citizen from a country that can travel visa-free to Greece, the likelihood is very low.

b) If you get another ticket:
Should you get another ticket, you increase the chances of being caught, especially if it happens in the same municipality/district.

c) How centralized systems have become or if cross-referencing is done in the area:
More than anything else, finding you and imposing greater consequences will depend on the centralization of systems and implementation by local, national and EU authorities. Greece is known for its disorganization, but computerization and synchronization have improved between municipal tax offices, police and public transport stations, border crossings (Schengen computer) and ministry branches as of 2010.

Modern and multilingual, ex-PM Papandreou ordered implementation of e-government processes from October 5, 2009, and this has continued to advance even though he stepped down in November 2011.

There’s no way for me or anyone to know how centralized an area has become or to what extent local or national authorities will enforce the law. Greece is a “results may vary” country. Different people in the same circumstances on the same day can experience punishment ranging from nothing to everything. Anything is possible.

I do not work for the Greek government or have access to your records. Nor do I know all the traffic laws of your country, how they harmonize with Greece or how traffic police, embassies/consulates and courthouses may coordinate efforts (or not) and how that specifically applies to your violation according to residency, citizenship, car ownership/rental and travel record.

They took my license, and I left the country without paying the fine. Will I get it back?

Greek authorities will send the license to your country’s embassy and the embassy will forward it to whatever address is currently on file with transport authorities. Otherwise, you need to get a new license.

Can I be denied a visa to Greece or denied entry to the country if I have an outstanding fine/ticket?

— If you are a Greek citizen or a resident of Greece of any nationality with a valid residence permit/card/certificate, authorities cannot deny you entry to Greece.
— If you are a non-Greek EU citizen with a valid passport or national ID card, you do not need a visa and will not be checked at the border because Greece is a Schengen country.
— If you are a non-EU citizen from a country required to get a visa from Greece, it is possible that Greek authorities may deny a future visa or entry to the country, especially once the Schengen database is implemented in full by 2014. You have technically broken the law, and this is grounds for denial.

*Stolen vehicles are registered in the Schengen Information System (SIS), which means border authorities can trace them and check if their tags are fake.

What is your advice?

My advice is to use common sense. If you’re driving on a suspended license, behaving badly or signing a helmet waiver as part of your rental agreement, don’t blame or complain and accept consequences for your actions. After all, no one forced you. It is your responsibility to ask questions and educate yourself before visiting a country as a guest or becoming a resident, and all guides for Greece have a brief overview of road rules. Ignorance is never a legitimate defense.

I realize that some people are only concerned with partying it up and don’t care about respecting local laws and customs. If that’s the case, then please don’t expect anyone to care about you when you’re in trouble. Respect and responsibility go both ways.

Sources

Πρόστιμο 200 ευρώ σε οδηγούς χωρίς δίπλωμα οδήγησης” — Naftemporiki
Greece to screen foreign vehicles for unpaid fines” — ANA-MPA
Driving in Greece a parable to living in Greece” — Kathimerini
Οι Ευρωπαίοι πολίτες πληρώνουν στη χώρα τους” — Imerisia
“Ο ΟΑΣΑ εγκαινιάζει τρεις νέες λεωφορειολωρίδες” (article removed) — Kathimerini
Traffic fines in Greece to be raised late 2011” — Ta Nea
Αλλάζουν τα όρια ταχύτητας στους αυτοκινητοδρόµους” (Chart)– Ta Nea
Zakynthos policeman posed as traffic cop to extort bribes from tourists” — Eleftherotypia
Πιο τσουχτερά τα πρόστιμα για παραβάσεις του ΚΟΚ” — To Vima
Car wanted by SIS detained at border” — Ministry of Interior, Bulgaria
Uninsured drivers to be slapped with 250 euro fine” — Kathimerini
Fines for uninsured drivers and vehicles” — Naftemporiki
In Athens alone, 151 tickets issued to vehicles with diplomatic plates” — Naftemporiki

Related posts

Driving and driver’s licenses in Greece
The first time I drove in Athens
Walking in the Big A…not Apple, but Athens

Updates pending
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=449029
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=471527
http://www.naftemporiki.gr/news/cstory.asp?id=2244898
Για ΚΤΕΟ οι περισσότερες παραβάσεις των οδηγών στο κέντρο της Αθήνας
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=507341
http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=63812739
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=536034

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Greece ranked third unhappiest in EU

Sad faceDenmark, Finland and Ireland are home to the happiest people, while Italy finished at the bottom just behind Portugal and Greece.

Dr. Luisa Corrado, who led the University of Cambridge poll of 20,000 respondents said, “The survey shows that trust in society is very, very important. The countries that scored highest for happiness also reported the highest levels of trust in their governments, laws and each other.”

Well that explains it, doesn’t it? Greece is one of the most corrupt countries, ranks 3rd on the terror list and is the EU’s most prolific violator of laws and directives.

Happiest Top 5

1. Denmark
2. Finland
3. Irish
4. Sweden
5. Netherlands

Unhappiest Top 5

1. Italy
2. Portugal
3. Greece
4. Germany
5. France

Click here to read about the award-winning report on the BBC.

Related posts

Greece vs. EU and USA: Health Care
Doing business in Greece vs. the EU, Canada, Australia and USA
Benefits of living abroad in the EU vs. USA

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