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I got 3 traffic tickets in 1 day in Bologna and didn't even know it!

I got 3 traffic tickets in 1 day in Bologna and didn't even know it!

Old May 27th, 2009, 05:30 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,429
I remember many years ago when cars were freely allowed in the historic center of many of the cities we're talking about. It wasn't pretty.

Maybe it was the tourist outrcy to rid the historic areas of cars and make Italy more "tourist friendly" that started this movement in the first place.
J62 is offline  
Old May 27th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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Being "tourist friendly" in my very strong opinion, to restate my opinion, would be for all the rental auto companies in Italy to pass out the proper information to tourist renting vehicles in Italy. Consequently tourist would have the valuable information would they not? I know some would say that anyone renting a vehicle in Italy should have researched the Italian laws in advance but if the rental car companies handed out the information there would be no excuse for breaking the laws of Italy and I imagine fewer tourist would receive the shocking fines months after they have returned home. Even my Italian friends in Italy agree with my thoughts.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old May 28th, 2009, 03:46 AM
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Or perhaps the administrative fees for passing on renter's details to the authorities are a nice little earner for the rental companies, for 5 minutes of work searching their computerised record?
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Old May 28th, 2009, 04:27 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I received a huge demand for payment from Dollar Rent-a-Car in Miami for reputedly not paying two 25 cent bridge tolls. This 50 cent amount totalled something like $45 with the additional penalties and processing fees. However, I pointed out to them that those unpaid tolls were time-dated from the morning while I had only picked up that car at 5 p.m.

So just don't think this is some European thing.
kerouac is online now  
Old May 28th, 2009, 06:03 AM
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I live in an historic tourist destination, so my take is perhaps different from some of yours.

We have constant problems with visitors driving down clearly marked one-way streets the wrong way. Bicycles are worse than cars, but both do it.

We have very narrow streets, and many people hold up traffic because they stop to inch around "obstacles" that would be easily passed -- if they had any sense of how wide their cars are! We have one section of street where two Ford Expeditions have plenty of room to meet and pass, if both drivers stay to the right, but there are constant blockages as people lose their nerve and stop to let the other cars come through.

The opposite, of course, is where drivers drive up on the sidewalks, endangering pedestrians, in order to clear parked cars when there is plenty of room to get around them.

In other words, drivers who are unfamiliar with the local rules and regulations are a real pain and often dangerous to themselves and others. Rental companies might hand out "cheat sheets" with the commonest problems, but it really requires drivers to learn the local rules and to take things slowly if they are at all uncertain.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 07:30 AM
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Of course there are very good reasons for barring traffic from historic areas, and we're probably all grateful that it's done. But just as they make exceptions for the people who live in these areas, they should make exceptions for people staying at hotels there, just for arrival and departure days. Most cities do, but invoking the exceptions months later is pretty difficult. Hotels need to be more conscientious about informing and assisting their guests. My hotel knew I had arrived by car, but never said a word about registering my car (which I immediately took outside the historic area to park), and gave me some unintelligible answer when I asked them to help me when I got the tickets. Very few of us deliberately ignore the signs. I think that when the police learn the offending car was rented by a foreign tourist, they should assume that the tourist made a mistake, and stop the process there, as a gesture of good will. You will have already paid the fee to the rental company for furnishing the information to the police, so you will learn your lesson and be more careful the next time. But $600 is a lot of money for ahotpoet to pay for his mistakes that really didn't hurt anybody. These city governments need to think about the message they're sending to tourists, which is not that we need to respect their traffic laws, but that they don't really care whether they spoil our memories of our trip as long as they can make some more money off of us.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 07:33 AM
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You are supposed to tell you hotel and they are supposed to transmit the information so you don't get ticketed while loading/unloading luggage.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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I agree that it would be nice if both hotels and the rental car company warned travelers of these type of things. This forum was helpful to me and some travel books mention the specfics of the traffic regulations. Ultimately it is our responsiblity as a traveller to know these things though.

Our B&B took our license plate and the date and approximate timeframe we entered the zone and transmitted that information to the police. He gave us some sort of receipt that showed this had been done. I believe we paid a few euros for this. In theory we should not get a ticket, but if we do, this receipt will show that we were "legal." We'll see.

I agree that travelers should know the traffic laws and obey them. However, one can easily make a mistake. I certainly did what I could do ensure we would not illeglaly enter one of these zones. I checked with our hotels to find out what we needed to do, watched the signs very carefully and tried to follow the traffic regs. U would assume that an inadvertent mistake may cost u something, but certainly not the exorbitant fine and admninistrative fee tacked on by the rental company. That's what I find objectionable.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 09:13 AM
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ahotpoet, sorry this happened, that's never a good surprise. I don't expect this to be a huge consolation but I got a ticket about 4 years ago in my home city. I made an illegal turn, and that one ticket cost me over $150. So IMO, 3 tickets totalling $150 is relatively inexpensive compared with the cost of being ticketed around here. I don't mean to dismiss your feelings, I would be mad too. But I'm just trying to show a silver lining to the cloud as it could have been worse. We all live and learn.

Thanks for the info, you might have saved someone else from getting a ticket.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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I had more problems with tickets and driving in Italy than any other country and a list of signs and their translations would not have helped.

Once I get a ticket after following an Italian into a turn. . I had to pay on the spot. Another time I parked on the sidewalk like the others and I got a ticket.

Another time I saw a cop's face turn red, from two blocks away. I did not know what I did wrong. Even though we do not speak Italian, we speak some Spanish and can get the gist of the message. I remembered a Clement Freud story. He was in Spain, and although he speaks fluent Spanish, he pretended he did not. When he was pulled over by the police, and when they started to speak to him, Freud opened a Spanish phrase book and said. "I need an emema." So when I pulled up to the cop, I took out a guide book and just said hotel, hotel. The cop got so frustrated he waved me on.

Another time, the blame was squarely on me as I drove across a plaza, where cars were prohibited. I did not realize this until I was in the plaza. Since I had Rome plates people were screaming, "Roma, Roma." So we appeared as arrogant Romans rather than stupid Americans.

And then you have Sicily where traffic laws and light are mere suggestions and any ticket there would be capracious.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 10:29 AM
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I live in a city with ten million tourists driving around clogging up traffic and breaking traffic laws. Are you serious that you think tourists should be immune from getting traffic tickets? What for, they are breaking the law. I wish they'd get more than they do, maybe they'd drive better and stop breaking the laws, which endanger others and cause a lot of traffic problems.

Anyone who is renting a car has the obligation to follow traffic laws and find out what they mean. I don't know Italian, but I've seen those signs and they are very obvious what they mean to anyone who knows English or a Romance language.

I kind of doubt that the police don't give tickets to tourists where I live (Washington DC). Why should they exempt them from traffic laws.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 10:53 AM
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In Paris, where I live, I see foreign cars towed away all the time when they are in no-parking zones. I'm sure that gives a little extra zing to some visits: parking ticket + towing fee + impoundment charge. And I really bet that it isn't always the easiest thing in the world to figure out what happened to your car and where to go get it when you don't speak the language.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 11:13 AM
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DC fills its coffers with parking tickets - tourists and residents...
yestravel is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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Wow, I didn't realize this thread had been topped and had generated so much "traffic". My main reason for posting was to alert other drivers as to this little surprise that can come up.
I still don't know what I did wrong. It isn't verified that I was in a limited traffic zone.
I wonder if I should have contested the after the fact charges on my credit card.
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Old Jun 12th, 2009, 09:52 AM
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ahotpoet, I believe that the only charges you've paid so far are to the rental car company for furnishing your name and address to the city authorities. My understanding is that there is no way to contest that, even though $50 for each ticket is an exorbitant amount to charge for what they did. But in a couple of months, you will probably receive the actual notice from the local government (or the agency that is handling the billing). You said the verification came in the mail, but if it was from the rental company, the fee you paid was to them, and the tickets and fines themselves are still to come. They will probably be about 90 Euros. Each! You can try to contest those. Good luck, but it will be a lot of work and you probably won't succeed.
I think people are not being realistic when they compare these tickets to tickets we get in our own countries (the U.S. for me, if you haven't guessed). Certainly all tourists should obey the laws of their host country. But let's temper justice with mercy, and let's throw in a little goodwill, too. If the police had stopped you, they could have had a little sympathy and let you off with a warning. But you get these threatening letters months afterward, with little or no information or instructions, just a demand for payment. I would still love to know what the Italians do when they get tickets in the mail like this.
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