Who drives in Italy with his car should be aware of driving bans in the city centres. Driving in a so called "zona a traffico limitato" without a special permit is expensive.
1.040 Euro fine
Sandra M. from Austria is excited about her weekend trips with friends to Verona. Searching for her hotel, she drives through the city centre several times. She doesn't pay attention to the traffic sign marking the centre as a "zona a traffico limitato" (ZTL) and informing drivers that a special permit is required. A few weeks later, she receives an invoice in her mail. She has to pay 80 Euro for each time she drove through the ZTL without permission - in her case, 13 times, so a total of 1.040 Euro. The shocked consumer turns to us, the European Consumer Centre Austria (ECC), for help.
Pay attention to signs
The ECC knows the problems. "We receive numerous requests and complaints every year, from consumers who got a fine notice because they drove through a zona a traffico limitato", says legal adviser Reinhold Schranz. There are several cities with those zones, like Florence, Genoa, Milan, Pisa, Rome, Trieste, Turin and Verona.
A ZTL often covers the inner city respectively the old historical centre of a city. The limitations usually apply to cars, they can restrict travel permanently or only during specific day time. Exceptions exist for travellers with reduced mobility. Reinhold Schranz advises to pay attention to traffic signs: "The zones are always marked at the access roads with a sign saying 'zona a traffico limitato'. Furthermore, the specific times of the restrictions are stated."
Get information in advance
The expert also recommends to clarify beforehand whether your hotel or the hotel's parking space is within a zone. If so, you should inform the hotel that you need the respecitve permit. The hotel should then take care of registering your car and the duration of your stay at the authorities. "If the registration was too late and you get traffic ticket or later a fine notice via mail, you need to be able to prove your hotel stay. You should therefore keep the hotel invoice or the booking confirmation", says Reinhold Schranz.
Driving in a "zona a traffico limitato" without permission is a traffic offence and will therefore be fined. In many cities, incoming cars are being recorded by surveillance cameras and automatically checked for permits. In smaller citites, those checks are done by the local police. Every entry without permission will be fined with at least 80 Euro. If you park the car within a zone, another fine for illegal parking might be added.
If you got a ticket on-site without any credit transfer data (BIC and IBAN), you can try to pay or find out about the missing data at the local police. Another option is to wait for the delivery of the charge sheet via mail. The delivery has to be as a registered letter within 360 days after the offence. After that, the penalty is barred and can be rejected with an appeal at the prefect in charge or justice of the peace.
- Check in advance if you need a special permit for accessing your hotel. If so, ask your hotel to request it for you.
- Keep your hotel invoice or booking confirmation, as it can take up to one year until you receive a fine notice.
- When arriving at the hotel, check if the data on the special permit is correct. Always carry it with you and place it behind your windshield when parking the car within a ZTL.
- Keep attention to traffic signs when you visit Italian cities. Don't enter a ZTL at the stated restricted times without permission.
- If you receive a fine notice within 360 days after the offence, it is advisable to pay the fine. If in doubt, please turn to ECC Austria.
This article was created in cooperation with the Verein für Konsumenteninformation (VKI) and pubished in the test magazine KONSUMENT in June 2017.