French tourist jailed for speeding

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A French tourist who was caught driving at excessive speed over a scenic mountain highway in north-central Norway has lost his driver’s license and been sentenced to 18 days in prison. It’s an unusually harsh punishment, especially against a visitor to Norway, but prosecutors claimed the French motorist put others’ lives in danger.

It can be tempting to drive fast on some of Norway's nearly deserted highways in wide-open country, liked this one in Nord-Troms, but a court father to the south in Salten has proven that punishment can be swift and that tourists can be held as accountable as locals. PHOTO: Views and News

Newspaper Avisa Nordland reported that the man from France, in his late 30s, was driving 160 kilometers per hour/kph (nearly 100mph) when police nabbed him in a speed control operation they’d set up on the two-lane E6 highway over the mountains of Saltfjellet. The speed limit in the area is 90kph (55mph), and police had followed him over a distance of seven kilometers before pulling him over.

Police feared the French tourist, who works as a director of a large French company, would try to avoid punishment in Norway, so they immediately jailed him pending legal action. His court appearance was set for the day right after he was caught last Thursday, and by then he’d made an unconditional confession to the speeding infraction.

The local court (Salten tingrett) sentenced him to 18 days in prison, revoked his driver’s license for 16 months and ordered him to take a new driving test in order to get it back. That was exactly what prosecutor Stig Morten Løkkebakken had requested.

“It’s quite unusual to jail anyone in connection with a speeding violation, but in this case, the speeding violation was both considerable and deliberate,” Løkkebakken told Avisa Nordland.

Løkkebakken noted that the French tourist had admitted he was driving fast because he wanted to “test out” his rental car, a Volkswagen Passat CC. Police and prosecutors thought it was thus important for the man to face sentencing by a court.

“The speed at which he was driving posed high risk and put other persons’ lives in danger,” Løkkebakken said.

The Frenchman, who wasn’t identified in keeping with Norwegian press tradition, reportedly had been on holiday in the scenic northern archipelago of Lofoten, and was driving south over the mountains on his way to Stockholm, where he’d intended to fly back to France. Now he faces time in a Norwegian prison, while authorities in France would be alerted to the revocation of his driver’s license.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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