Legislation

Duty of designation: why has the legislation changed?

The new offence of "non-designation" has been introduced in the aim of improving the accountability of employers and drivers of vehicles belonging to legal entities.

Since the introduction of the automated control system at the start of the 2000s, it has been common for drivers committing an offence at the wheel of a vehicle belonging to a legal entity to evade deduction of points. Sometimes the legal entity even pays the fine in place of the offender. Such a process reduces accountability, not only for the author of the offence, but also for the organization employing him or her. It endangers the lives of employees and those of other road users by failing to encourage respect of the Highway Code regulations.

This is why a decision was made to create a penalty connected with the obligation to reveal the identity of the driver. This penalty must prevent the driver from being the recipient of the warning sign that is the loss of points. It should be emphasized that road accidents are the number one cause of mortality at work. In 2015, 483 people lost their lives during travel related to their occupation and 4,520 had to be hospitalized following an accident during their commute or on a job.

Since 1st January 2017, Article L121-6 of the Highway Code consequently specifies that, when a driving offence has been committed with a vehicle which has a legal entity as its registration certificate holder or which is owned by a legal entity, the legal representative of this legal entity must designate the private individual who was driving this vehicle at the time of the offence. They have a period of 45 days to complete this designation to the Officier du Ministère Public.

Offences covered by the duty of designation

The offences in question are those reported as per the terms stated in Article L.139-9 of the Highway Code. These are offences reported "by or from automated control devices" which are officially recognized and relating to:

  • wearing of seatbelts;
  • use of hand-held phones;
  • use of lanes and road surfaces reserved for certain categories of vehicle;
  • driving on hard shoulders;
  • compliance with safety distances;
  • crossing or straddling of solid lines;
  • signals requiring vehicles to stop;
  • speed limits;
  • overtaking;
  • entering the space between the two stop lines at a signal light, reserved for bicycles and mopeds;
  • wearing of helmets for users of two-wheeled vehicles.

Amount of the fine incurred

When the legal representative does not designate the perpetrator of the offence, the legal entity incurs a fixed fine equal to 675 Euros. This fine can be increased to 3,750 Euros by a Community Court which can also decide to penalize the legal representative with a fine of up to 750 Euros.

These fines are added to the fine for the initially committed offence and for which the legal representative is the sole person liable to pay out of their own funds (Articles L121-2 and L121-3 of the Highway Code) in the absence of designation.

Special cases: self-designation, theft, identity fraud…

If the legal representative of the legal entity is him/herself the person who has committed the driving offence, s/he is obliged to designate him/herself. If s/he does not do this, his/her permit cannot have points deduced from it and the legal entity of which s/he is the legal representative will receive an Offence Notice for non-designation. When s/he has committed un offence him/herself, the legal representative must therefore transmit his/her name, date of birth and driving licence, in the same way as all the other drivers.

If the vehicle at the wheel of which the offence was committed was stolen at the time of the offence, in the event of number plate fraud or any other force majeure event, the legal representative to which the Offence Notice has been sent must send to the OMP, within 45 days, the documents for establishing the existence of the theft, identity fraud or force majeure event.

To find out more about the practical terms and conditions of designation, click here