Switzerland to relax speeding rules and fines: What expats need to know

Switzerland to relax speeding rules and fines: What expats need to know

Following a similar decision made by the National Council earlier this year, the Council of States, the upper house of the Swiss government, has voted to relax speeding rules and fines for drivers. Road safety activists are now seriously considering a referendum to stop the new laws from coming into effect.

New speeding rules and fines for drivers in Switzerland

In the future, drivers in Switzerland are going to be punished less severely for speeding on roads and motorways. The new laws reverse much of the so-called Via Sicura - a set of rules imposed on drivers that include minimum prison sentences for speeding offences and mandatory revocation periods for driving licences.

Despite several attempts to modify or stop the changes, the new rules passed the Council of States with a majority on May 31. Here’s what expats need to know.

Judges have more leeway when deciding prison sentences

Firstly, the council decided to lift the minimum prison sentence requirement for serious speeding offences. This will give judges far more leeway in deciding punishments and allow factors like whether the speeding caused a road accident, incidents with the police, and motive to be taken into account.

Licence withdrawal period and road education courses cut

The new changes also mean that authorities will be allowed to withdraw someone's licence for a minimum of 12 months as opposed to 24. Attempts by some within the council to reduce the ban to six months were rejected by Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, who deemed the move too extreme. 

The council concluded that drivers who have their licence revoked will not need to attend “road education courses” in order to get their permit back. Once back on the road, drivers will also not be forced to drive a vehicle equipped with speed recording software.

Reduced fines if the police are caught speeding

In the same meeting, the Council of States approved a plan to reduce penalties for members of the emergency services who are caught speeding. For Swiss police in pursuit of runaway vehicles, only the speed difference between the police car and the suspect will be used to determine fines, as opposed to the speed limit on the road.

Switzerland lifts the ban on circuit motor sports

Finally, in what is a big win for motor racing fans in the alpine nation, the Council of States voted to lift the motor racing ban for circuits in Switzerland. The move lifts the ban originally imposed in 1955, although Councillor Thierry Burkart conceded, "No one on the commission, however, assumes that a classic Formula 1 race will take place in Switzerland."

Speeding offence changes likely to face referendum

The approved motions by the Council of States will now be returned to the National and Federal Councils for final approval. However, RoadCross, a road safety group, have said they are seriously considering launching a referendum against the plans, with a spokesperson noting that weakening penalties for driving offences increases the risks on the road for all motorists.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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