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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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