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On July 13th 2009, Mr. Duteil holder of probationary driver license, was stopped by a police officer. He was issued a citation because he was charged with the contravention of driving under the influence (art.  R234-1 of the road code). The citation mentioned : “point (s) driver’s license penalty”. The applicant paid a fine of 90€.

On November 25th 2009, he was informed that following to the payment of the fine 90€, his driver license was invalidated by the Minister of Interior.

Under article L223-1 of the road code, the prepayment of the fine by the suspect is assimilated to a guilty plea in the contravention. Then the Minister of Interior sentences the suspect.

The probationary driver license hold 6 points at issuance. The contravention of driving under the influence  (art.  R234-1 of the road code) carries 6 points penalty in addition of the fine of 4th category. It may also result in the suspension of the driver license  for up to 3 years.

Any driver license which hold 0 points is invalidated. In this case, the driver have  to wait 6 months before passing the driving and theory exams, after being registered with a French driving school, notorious for their high tuition fees.

On January 11th 2010, Mr. Duteil filed an application (see below) to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the lack of information on the penalty if a guilty plea is entered is a violation of articles 6-1 and 6-3-a) of the Convention. Moreover, according to the applicant, the absence of information on the penalty made him renounce  illegally to his right to a public hearing by an tribunal in violation of article 6-1 and 13 of the Convention and he can’t appeal the interdiction for him to drive for 6 months which is according to him, an interference in his right to travel freely (art.2-3 protocol no 4). The applicant was represented by Me Frederic Casanova (Toulon).

On April 20th 2010, a chamber presided by Judge  Peer Lorenzen found the application to be inadmissible under article 35-3-a) of the Convention (manifestly ill-founded) and stated that the applicant could have ask verbally legal information about the penalty to…the police officer who issued the citation or to the driver license department “within 45 days.” But the applicant was not informed of these rights and nothing indicates that the police officer and the driver license department have the legal capacity to offer such information.

The chamber also mistakenly stated that the driver was cited under article L234-1 of the road code instead of  art.  R234-1 of the road code.

On October 12th 2010, the same chamber found  in decision SARL Comptoir aixois des viandes v. France (19863/08) that police officers were responsible during house search of the legal defense of the suspect (“chargés (..) des droits de la défense“).

These two decisions of inadmissibility manifestly ill-motivated raise concern on the quality and the seriousness of  the decisions  taken by this chamber presided by Judge  Peer Lorenzen.

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