Minor road traffic offences
The system of dealing with minor road traffic offences is rather complex in Hungary.
If you have been flashed by a speed camera, the police impose a fine (maximum HUF 300,000). Notification about the penalty must reach you within 60 days, otherwise the authority is no longer entitled to collect the fine. If you were obliged to pay a fine, no further fine should be imposed in any future procedure against you for the same offence.
Other road traffic offences are usually dealt with in the context of minor offences procedures, primarily by the police, but parking attendants are also entitled to impose on-the-spot fines in the case of certain offences (e.g. prohibited parking).
What penalties can be imposed?
Fines can be imposed in case of violations of road traffic regulations. The maximum amount of these fines (HUF 100,000 at present) is defined by law.
If you do not pay the fine, and it cannot be collected from you, the fine can be converted to community service or a maximum amount of 60 days in prison. In the case of most traffic offences, the police may also impose a driving ban of 1 to 12 months.
What are the principal characteristics of the proceedings?
For most road traffic offences, the police can impose an on-the-spot fine, up to a maximum amount of HUF 20,000. If you accept the amount of the on-the-spot fine, you cannot appeal against it later. If you accept the fine, you are handed a cash deposit slip and you have to pay the fine within 30 days; it is also possible to pay with a bankcard in some police cars.
If you object to the fine, you will be prosecuted by the policeman and a regular minor offence procedure will be conducted against you.
During the proceedings the police must clarify what has happened. They can do this in a number of different ways (e.g. they can hear witnesses and obtain expert opinions, etc.). During the procedure you have the right to put questions to the participants, and make observations and motions. You can view the documents in the case at any time, and can make copies of them. You can hire a lawyer to represent you in the procedure, and you are also entitled to an interpreter free of charge.
If, based on their investigation, the police declare that you have committed a minor offence, and issue a warning or impose a fine or punish the offence with a driving ban, you can file an objection against the police order which will be dealt with by the local court. The court will uphold the police order if your objection is unfounded, or amend it if the administrative authority involved has applied a legal regulation incorrectly.
If you do not agree with the decision of the court you can request a hearing. In this case the court is required to hold a hearing, which you can attend. If you do not attend in spite of having been properly notified about it, the hearing can be held without you as well. There is no further appeal against the decision of the court at the hearing.
Are such offences pursued against citizens of other Member States?
Yes, the legal assistance process can be used against citizens of other Member States. Within this framework the Hungarian authorities have the opportunity to ask the authorities of your home country to interrogate you, and to provide them with official documents or with your personal details taken from the official records.
There is also a possibility for the Hungarian authorities to ask your home country to collect a fine imposed on you. This could happen if you fail to pay the fine voluntarily and it exceeds 70 Euros.
Will these offences appear on my criminal record?
Minor offences are recorded in a separate register - the Register of Offences. The police, the prosecutor’s office and the court can request data from the register, so this information can also be used in a criminal process. If you repeatedly commit the same or similar offences, this information will be taken into consideration when you are being sentenced for the offence.
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