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    Errant drivers now face tougher fines

    The State of Belgium is imposing tougher penalties for traffic offenses from 1 July, according to the new driving rules published on Friday in the Moniteur Belge, the country’s official gazette.

    A motorist caught driving in the emergency lane now faces a fine of 174 euros, since this offence has been upgraded to a third-degree infraction. It was hitherto a first-degree infraction, which carried a 58-euro penalty.

    Hogging the middle lane also comes with a higher cost: any motorist who fails to shift to the right after overtaking will now be guilty of a second-degree infraction, with a 116-euro price tag.

    Flouting the ban on overtaking, for vehicles and trailers with a maximum authorised charge of over 7.5 tonnes, now becomes a second-degree infraction. The same goes for buses, coaches and other vehicles with a maximum authorised charge of over 3.5 tonnes that violate the ban on driving on the left on the highway.

    In addition to toughening the fines for some infractions, the new rules also make it easier to sanction traffic offenses in real time by adding to the list of infractions that can be sanctioned by automatic devices – thus without the presence of a police officer.

    These now include wrong-way driving, blocking a roundabout, failure to respect road signs and all infractions related to overtaking.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times