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Did I deserve a CHF 350 traffic fine?

Maybe we should start with "what is CHF 350?". First, CHF stands for Swiss Francs, and three hundred and fifty of them is £285, €335 or US$380 - not an amount that's going to change my life, but not an inconsequential amount either.

Back to CHF, while the "F" clearly stands for Francs, how does the "CH" equate to "Swiss"? Well, according to it's because "the Helvetii, a Celtic tribe who battled Julius Caesar, gave their name to the Swiss territory. The Latin name for the country, Helvetia, still appears on Swiss stamps. The letters CH appearing on Swiss cars and in internet addresses stand for the Latin words Confoederatio Helvetica, meaning Swiss Confederation". So now we know!😁

Anyway, enough small talk, back to my traffic fine, and whether I deserved it.

My offence

In fact, it was two offences:

  1. Regulation 309.01, Disregarding a traffic light

  2. Regualtion 306.01, Violation against the preselection order by disregarding the arrow on the lane

My appeal

I appealed the fine for the following reasons:

  1. I was a foreigner in Zurich and was doing my best to navigate to my destination in a new city where I didn't know/have experience of the direction.

  2. When I approached the junction with the traffic signal/light, I found myself in the right hand lane thinking that the direction I needed to take was to the right. The light was red, so I stopped and waited.

  3. I then realised that the direction to my destination was straight ahead. I saw that the traffic signal/light for straight ahead was green, so I checked for other traffic and when I saw it was clear, I carefully proceeded to drive and exit the juction straight ahead, in accordance with the green traffic signal.

  4. So, by a study of the camera film, it can be seen that I did not turn right where there was a red light, but instead I went straight where the light was green.

  5. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, I was not in the best lane when I approached the junction, but only because I was a stranger in Zurich and was trying to find my way in a new city.

I hope that I have explained that I proceeded with care and that I went in the direction (straight) where there was a green light. I understand why the automated camera might think I was turning right in contravention of the red light and it did not know that I was actually proceeding straight where the light was green. In these circumstances, I hope that the fine can be cancelled.

By the way, this took place just before midnight, so the roads were very quiet.

The response

This is the response that I received from the Zurich Police:

There is a lot of traffic in the city of Zurich. Precisely for this reason, all traffic regulations must be consistently enforced in the event of a violation of the traffic regulations. Due to the equal treatment, no distinction should be made between holidaymakers and locals.

On our photos it can be seen that you are fully on the right-turn lane, the red indicated, and passed the stop line. After the stop bar you switched to the straight lane, indicated green. The journey continued there. However, this fact is not relevant for the red light violation that took place. A change of lanes after the stop bar is not allowed. That is why in this case, in addition to violating the red light, the number 306.01 “Violation of the lane order by disregarding the marked directional arrow” has been added. We do not consider the imposed fine to be objectionable.


The police didn't accept my appeal, so I paid my CHF 350 fine. But I did so with a slightly heavy heart. I made a simple navigation error which took me to a red light at which I stopped. On realising my error, I took care in swithching lanes to proceed through a green light to continue in my required direction. I feel this is a technical infringement, but I don't think more than that and, on this basis, I feel the fine was over the top.

Maybe I'm biased. What do you think, did I get what I deserved or do you side with my view that it was more a technical infringement that has been harshly dealt with?


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Jan 14

Switzerland is a camera and police state.


Hi David, Think that you were harshly dealt with, especially regarding the appeal.

However, I used to work for a Swiss company and my colleagues who relocated there received fines for all sorts of things, eg, putting the wrong bin out, flushing the toilet in a block of flats after 10pm (the police turned up at the door for that one).

So you're probably stuffed!

Replying to

I've just set the dishwasher to come on at 2am, taking advantage of lower cost electricity and also not drawing on the the grid during peak times...I'm pretty sure that's what we're supposed to do. Hopefully no police will be involved!


Hi David. Not connected to the post but we went to Finland over Christmas. Our skiing trip to France was cancelled as the French govt pulled up the draw-bridge and stopped all tourism from the UK 2 days before we were due to fly out!

Anyways we had a great time in Yllas in northern Finland. The skiing was good although very cold - minus 25 plus some days!! We also had a few trips - husky sleigh ride, snowmobiles, reindeer sleigh ride, and also saw the northern lights to top things off!

I think you said you're going to Finland early in 2022 didn't you?

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Take care, Ian

Replying to

Hi Ian

Have you been to Finland before? If not, while it's a shame that your French ski trip didn't work out, it could be viewed as a positive that it led you to try a new place. I like being "a glass half full" type of person.

You have a good memory because your recollection is correct, we are due to go to Finland in a couple of weeks. It was part of my Christmas gift to Sally and the kids in 2020 (!) so hopefully we can go. We're trying to stay Covid free and hoping that the rules let us travel. Fingers crossed that we will also see the Northern Lights, as that was the original idea…


I think its a sign of our more authoritarian system we now have. Micro management to death, no matter how over the top or silly the rules are. You have no chance with these computer says no types , regardless of the country.

Replying to

I feel better to have at least appealed, even if it got me nowhere. I suspect you're right...the computer said no. It half makes me laugh that they did me for two offences, that did seem a bit jobsworth!


Brett Rallings
Brett Rallings
Dec 28, 2021

Different countries police in different ways. The police in the UK police with public consent. That is why they are generally more agreeable than other countries. The Swiss police based upon the enforcement of a code and don't really care what the public think. The same could be said for a lot of switzerland to be fair.

You are not going to get anywhere arguing common sense in Switzerland when dealing with beaurcracy has been my impression

Have a read of some of the stuff from Rolf Dobelli, who is Swiss. He has a whole chapter on how to mentally deal with getting a road traffic fine in Switzerland.

Replying to

Indeed, what works for one person might be different to what works for someone else. I certainly subscribe to the tricking my mind concept, something I try to do during some of my running for example.

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