Some people are unaware of the severe new driving penalties in Switzerland. A new body of Swiss laws called Via sicura is being introduced in stages, the most recent lot at the beginning of 2015. Penalties for speeders and drink drivers are particularly severe.
Even before these new laws, speeding was eye wateringly expensive in Switzerland. One speeder in 2010 was ordered to pay CHF 299,000 – from RTS list of record speeds and fines.
A Portuguese national, who was caught behind the wheel at 204 km/h on a motorway near Sion in the canton of Valais, is now fighting fines, prison time and loss of his residence permit according to the Geneva newspaper GHI. If he had been driving at 199 km/h he would have faced no more than stiff fines and the loss of his licence. The extra 5 km an hour of speed pushed him into the zone of much more serious sanctions.
- Court cancels speeding fine after owner claims to not know who was driving (Le News – 05.10.15)
- Strict Swiss drink drive laws to be loosened (Le News – 17.07.15)
Some are crying foul saying that it is ridiculous that someone who stepped too heavily on the gas pedal could be locked up for as long as four years with people who have committed far more serious crimes.
On the other hand, driving 84 km/h over the speed limit (204 km/h less 120 km/h) is hardly an accident. Driving on a motorway at 130 km/h, 140 km/h, or maybe even 150km/h could be the result of not paying attention, however driving at 204km/h looks like willful disregard of the law.
The new rules adopted by the Swiss parliament in 2012 are being introduced in stages and are designed to reduce road deaths and injuries. In 2014, 243 people died and 4,043 were injured on Swiss roads.
In 2013 severe penalties for speeding and drink driving were introduced. Penalties include confiscation of vehicle, up to four years in prison and in some cases permanent loss of licence. Speeds that can result in a prison term depend on the zone. 70 km/h in a 30 zone, 100km/h in a 50 zone, 140 km/h in an 80 zone and 200 km/h on a motorway, all come with a minimum 2 year loss of licence and prison terms.
An article in Le Matin reported the first prison sentence handed out for speeding under the new rules. In 2013 a 23 year old Swiss man from Argovie received an 18 month prison term, a CHF 4,000 fine and two years without his licence for driving at 149 km/h in an 80 km/h zone, 69 km/h an hour over the limit.
Then in 2014 it became compulsory to drive with lights on during the day as well as at night and for certain groups the alcohol limit was reduced to zero.
Since the beginning of 2015, your insurance effectively won’t cover you if you caused an accident and had drunk above the limit, sped excessively or drove while incapacitated. The new law essentially requires insurers to go after drivers in these cases.
Further measures scheduled for introduction in 2016 and 2017 include: stricter tests for older drivers, and compulsory driving courses, black box recorders and breath-test-car-starting devices for some former offenders.
A group called the Association to Stop the Abuses of Via sicura, which particularly dislikes the prison sentences and vehicle confiscation elements, has been set up to launch a popular Swiss vote to amend the Via sicura laws. Whether they succeed or not the best plan has got to be to stay off both the bottle and the gas pedal.
Penalties for speeding can be found here.
Via sicura (TCS website – in French)
More safety on the roads with Via sicura (Conferation website – in French)
First prison sentence for speeding (Le Matin – in French)
Via sicura information sheet (Confederation website – in French)