A French couple have been able to get away without paying €23,000 in traffic fines on a legal technicality, writes Johnny Summerton.
It's one of those absurd but true stories which both defies belief and illustrates how a loophole in the law, even in a country such as France which seems to have so many of them, can be exploited to its full potential.
As reported in the regional daily Nice Matin, a couple in the French city of Cannes have managed to rack up fines for traffic offences amounting to the grand total of just over €23,000.
The infractions date back to July 2010 and so far there have been 70 of them - for speeding, illegal parking, not paying at motorway toll booths...and the list goes on.
Oh yes, and as well as the fines there have also been points deducted for those speeding offences.
But the charges against the couple have been dropped - even though it's clear they must be the ones committing the offences.
And it's all because of that loophole in the law which has allowed them to register the car they use in the name of their son.
He is, according to the carte grise or the car registration papers, the legal owner of the car - a Fiat Punto - and as such considered by law to be the driver - unless proven otherwise.
So why not charge him, you might be asking?
Well he's only four years old and obviously is too young to be held accountable.
And as his parents refused to attend a court hearing, the judge had no option but to drop the charges.
"It's clearly absurd but that's the way the law operates," the judge said in dismissing the case.
"Because the parents didn't attend the hearing, the only thing I can do it drop the charges. It isn't sufficient to assume that they were trying to get away with not paying fines, it also has to be proven that they were the ones actually driving'', he concluded.
The law allowing parents to register vehicles in the name of their children was apparently introduced in 1984 and was supposed to allow 16 and 17-year-old learner drivers to have a car.
This posting has been supplied courtesy of www.survivefrance.com where you can follow how this debate went, and contribute to it, at How to Avoid Driving Fines in France - its legal.