Rules of the Road
The following are some basic rules that govern driving in Italy. While driving you are required to have a valid AFI driver’s license, a military registration and certificate of title of motor vehicle, and proof of insurance. If any of these are lost or stolen, report it immediately.
Drunken driving is an extremely serious offense in Italy. A blood alcohol level of 0.05 is positive proof of drunk driving. Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or blood alcohol content (BAC) test results in immediate loss of the license for six months, a possible fine from Italian authorities and loss of base driving privileges for one year.
If you have had too much to drink, leave your vehicle and take a taxi. The Naples Area Chief Petty Officers have established a year-round service called Tipsy Taxi as a free, no-questions-asked service for those who may have had too much to drink or feel incapable of driving.
Upon arrival in Naples, you will notice driving habits are considerably different from those in the United States. Learning the rules of the road and some local driving customs will help you adjust quickly to driving in Naples. Because of the often congested roads and the hurried pace of the traffic, absolute alertness while driving is of the utmost importance. Many intersections have no stop lights or traffic control. The vehicle on the right has the right-of-way, unless there is a stop sign.
Low beams are now required by law on main highways or darker roads. Head lights should always be turned on in tunnels. Flashing headlights are also used to signal the approach to stopped traffic at crossroads or to signal slower vehicles to move right and permit a faster vehicle to pass. When a car behind you flashes its lights, move to the right lane as soon as it is safe to do so.
Although some drivers may take what seem like unnecessary and dangerous chances to gain only a few feet of road space, Italian law requires you to allow overtaking traffic to pass you.
While horn blowing is technically illegal in many Italian cities, it is loosely enforced. Many people blow their horn to signal they are approaching an intersection or intend to pass.
Drivers also commonly use their hazard lights to signal danger, especially in slow or stopped traffic.
Do not pick up hitchhikers.
Stricter DUI/DWI Laws
A 2010 Italian traffic law (Legge 29.07.2010 n° 120) prohibits drivers 21 and under from having any alcohol whatsoever in their systems, meaning a blood alcohol content(BAC) reading greater than .00 is a violation of the law. This also applies to drivers with less than three years of driving experience and commercial drivers who could be terminated from their jobs for driving under the influence.
If a driver has a BAC reading of .05 to .08 grams per liter, fines will be levied from 500 to 2,000 euro, along with the suspension of a person’s driver’s license for a period of 90 to 180 days. Penalties may include detention of up to one month, or social services as deemed fit by the judge.
For a BAC reading of .08 to .15 grams per liter, fines will be levied from 800 to 3,200 euro, along with suspension of a person’s driver’s license for a period of 180 to 365 days. Violators may be sentenced to detention of up to three months, or social services as deemed fit by the judge.
For a BAC reading above .15 grams per liter, fines will be levied up to 6,000 euro, along with the suspension of a person’s driver’s license for a period of one to two years. Violators could face detention of up to six months, or social services as deemed fit by the judge.
If in any instance a blood alcohol content test is denied, the suspect can be fined from 2,500 to 10,000 euro. Should the suspect be involved in a traffic accident, the amount levied will increase from 3,000 to 12,000 euro.
For drivers under the influence of drugs, fines levied are from 1,000 to 4,000 euro, along with detention of up to three months or social services as deemed fit by the judge. Driver’s license privileges will be suspended from six months to one year.
Driving Without a Valid or With a Revoked License
Fines range from 2,257 to 9,032 euro. Should the person be convicted of the same crime within a period of two years, the subject can be detained for a period of one year.
Use of Cell Phones
Use of cell phones while driving is not permitted. Fines range from 148 to 594 euro. Should the person be convicted of the same crime within a period of two years, the driver’s license can be revoked for a period of one to three months.
If you must travel to and from work via the Tangenziale, Naples’ major tollway, you will have to decide how to pay for the toll at each exit. One way through the toll currently costs 1 euro and can be paid at a manned booth.
An alternative to handing over money each time is to use a “Telepass.” The Telepass works at all tollbooths in Italy. You can apply for a Telepass at the NEX Residential Services Office at the Support Site. You are required to have a major credit card. A monthly service fee of 5 euro is charged to your charge card account. Monthly usage charges are then deducted from your charge card account.
If you’re interested in obtaining a Telepass, contact the Navy Exchange Residential Services Office at 081-813-5321. It takes approximately five to seven working days to process the request for a Telepass.
During your tour, you may receive a traffic ticket. The Italian police usually issues them on the spot, but your plate number could be taken down and a ticket mailed to you at a later date. If you receive one in the mail, do not ignore it. The fine you will have to pay triples 15 days after the day it was mailed.
If a uniformed Italian police officer along the side of the road is waving at you using a lollipop stick (a red circle on a white disc), the officer is saying, “Pull over,” and you must do so.
If you are stopped, do not be disrespectful. If a communication gap exists and the officer writes you a ticket for a violation you cannot understand, accept it and bring it to the NSA Naples Security Department for clarification.
Most tickets can be paid on the spot. This is legal in Italy (and in many other European countries) and not a bribe. If you elect to pay, the police officer will give you a receipt. And that is that. You’ll hear nothing more about it. Keep the receipt.
For the more serious traffic violations, however, the fine cannot be paid on the spot. These violations may result in a criminal charge. If you receive a notice of this nature, bring it to the Region Legal Services Office (RLSO) for advice and appropriate action. The RLSO can be reached at DSN 314-626-4576.
Italy has implemented the “Tutor” system on its highway systems. Tutor is an electronic speed control system that records the time spent to cover a given distance and calculates the average speed of a vehicle.
A person exceeding the speed limit by 40 to 60 kilometers per hour may be fined from 370 to 1,458 euro, and driver’s license privileges may be suspended from three to six months. Should the person be convicted of the same crime within a period of two years, the driver’s license can be revoked from eight to 18 months.
For a person who exceeds a speed limit by more than 60 kilometers per hour, fines will be levied from 500 to 2,000 euro and driver’s license privileges will be suspended from six months to one year. If a person is convicted of the same crime within a two-year period, the driver’s license will be revoked indefinitely.
In both major and minor accidents, obey the Italian authorities. They have jurisdiction and can arrest you if you do not cooperate fully. Red plastic triangles are required by law and should be placed on the road to caution other drivers. Orange safety vests must also be worn by anyone exiting a stopped vehicle. These are available at the NEX Autoport and the local economy. They should be carried in your vehicle at all times. Under no circumstances should you attempt to argue fault with Italian law enforcement personnel. If you are involved in an accident, certain procedures must be followed. The procedures will depend upon whether the accident is classified as minor (no injuries or deaths in either vehicle) or major (injury or death of a passenger in either vehicle).
- Exchange license data, name and address, insurance company, policy number and vehicle tag numbers.
- Do not leave the scene until information is exchanged, and try to obtain names and address of witnesses.
- Report the incident to your insurance company within 48 hours.
- It is necessary that all accidents be reported to the NSA Naples Security Department via the Emergency Dispatch Center. If there are no injuries and no medical response is required, report the accident by calling the nonemergency line at Commercial 081-568-5638.
Note: Generally, minor accidents are a matter between individuals and their insurance companies.
- Assist the injured, if possible. Italian law requires that you render assistance to anyone injured in a traffic accident, whether you also were involved in the accident or were just a passerby.
- Under Italian law, you may be required, when possible, to transport the injured. This should be done as rapidly and safely as possible. Your vehicle will be regarded as an emergency vehicle when you turn on your headlights, honk your horn and display a white cloth or handkerchief from the window.
- Call the Emergency Dispatch Center’s emergency line immediately at Commercial 081-568-4911.
- Try to obtain names and addresses of witnesses.
- Remain on the scene, if able, until the accident has been investigated by NSA Naples Security personnel or the Italian police. If an accident occurs onboard NSA Naples, NSA Security police will investigate.
- If you are the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that injures or kills another person, criminal charges may be initiated by the police, regardless of who is at fault. Promptly notify your command and the Naval Legal Service Office to protect your rights, and to obtain the services of an Italian attorney under contract with the U.S. government to represent you.
- In case of an accident, personnel having automobile liability insurance with an Italian firm are required to notify that company within 48 hours of the accident. Failure to notify the company within the time period can be justification for the company’s refusal to accept liability.