Amsterdam tourist forced to cough up €2,200 in old traffic fines

Police in Amsterdam said on Saturday morning they stopped a car full of tourists with outstanding traffic fines of nearly 2,200 euros. The vehicle was caught four separate times going over the speed limit, but the owner never paid the fines.

Police said notice of the fines had been sent to the address connected to the vehicle’s registration. The driver was given the choice of paying the outstanding fine on the spot, or officers would tow the car away at an additional expense. The driver chose the former, police said.

Earlier in the week, the Parool reported that over half of foreign visitors fined in Amsterdam last year never paid their fines. The city usually sends one reminder about the penalty to the tourist’s home, but does not initiate collections proceedings because of the expense involved.

Two thousand fines were issued to foreign visitors last year, for issues like urinating in public, being drunk and disorderly, or sleeping in a vehicle. Only 47 percent of those fines were collected, which was still well above the 23 percent who paid their penalties in 2017.

The newspaper reported that the improvement was due to some officers carrying mobile debit card readers to collect fines on the spot. Parking fines have also become more difficult to collect, with countries like Germany refusing to share address details of vehicle owners.

One Amsterdam official, Ombudsman Arre Zuurmond, suggested that the city place wheel clamps on parking violators with foreign license plates to force people to pay up before they can move their vehicles.