Italian Police

There are many different types of police in Italy though only a couple that one will realistically encounter during your visit to Italy. It is always prudent to follow the laws of whichever country you are visiting and to make sure you familiarize yourself with the types of police you might encounter. Below are the main types of police you might encounter in Italy.

I T A L I A N    P O L I C E

Carabinieri - Military Corps with police duties. It is common to see these types of police throughout Italy and especially in front of Embassies and other important buildings. Often the officers carry more powerful firearms. The cars they drive are a dark blue coloration with a single red stripe on the sides from the front to back.


Polizia di Stato - patrol the Autostrada (highway). In our experiences, we have seen these types of police officers in situation where they are lending assistance to stranded drivers or redirecting traffic. We have not seen many car chases as the camera system in place to catch speeders is quite sophisticated. The cars they drive are often light blue in coloration with a single white stripe running down the sides from front to back. The officers tend to carry standard issued firearms (pistol).

Polizia Provinciale - operate in only some of the 109 provinces of Italy. Their main duties are to enforce regional and national hunting and fishing laws but they have also expanded into wildlife management and environmental protection. We have not run into many of these officers on the roads. However, we have run into these officers while on walks in the more remote areas. The cars they drive are often white in coloration with a single red stripe on each side running from back to front. The officers sometimes carry standard issued firearms (pistol) but most do not.

Polizia Municipale-  Each comune has its own Polizia Municipale (Municipal Police) whose main duty is to enforce local regulations and control traffic, but who also deal with petty crime and anti-social behaviour, especially in the largest metropolitan areas. These forces can be called Polizia Municipale, Polizia Locale, Polizia Comunale, Polizia Urbana or Vigli Urbani. In some regions Polizia Provinciale and Polizia Municipale are grouped into the Polizia Locale name, although they keep their own internal organization. Very little communes can merge their local police forces in a consortium. The cars they drive are varied in coloration (white, green, blue, etc.). Look for the words on the vehicles to help you determine what type of officer is in front of you.

    Italian Justice System: If you are arrested
    As mentioned above, it is best to follow the laws of the country you are visiting and Italy should be no exception to this rule. Typically, when a foreigner commits a petit crime in Italy he or she might be arrested, sent back home and denied future re-entry to Italy. However, if a foreigner commits a serious crime then he or she can be arrested and tried in the Italian court system. With any arrest for a serious crime there is a high presumption of guilt which ensures the Italian prosecutors a high percentage of successful convictions. This is in sharp contrast to the American legal system which affords those arrested a presumption of innocence.

    If you get arrested by any type of police the best thing to do is to do exactly as they ask. Do not try to bribe an officer to forgive your offense (or even joke about it) as this will surely get you into deeper and real trouble.

    Three ways to get a driving ticket
    If you get a speeding or parking ticket it is typical for the rental car company to charge you about 36 Euro in addition to the amount of the ticket.

    1. Speeding ticket - sophisticated cameras have been set up throughout Italy that can capture your license plate, photo of the driver and the speed of the vehicle. This information nearly guarantees a ticket if caught. It is futile to consider challenging a ticket if the offense was caught on camera. 
    2. Parking ticket - You will likely get a ticket if you are not parked in a parking lot (public or private), parked at a designated area (blue line) or have paid a parking meter (parcometro) and have the ticket displayed on your dashboard. It is quite common for the authorities to issue your ticket up to as much as one year after the offense. Once you receive the ticket you have 60 days to pay or appeal (challenge). If you challenge and lose then the fine is doubled. It has become customary for Italians to pay and then appeal. 
    3. Entering a pedestrian-only zone - You will receive a ticket for entering a zone is pedestrian only. The only way drive in a pedestrian-only zone is to obtain an exemption from your hotel.

    Paying the ticket
    Some people have even received a bill on their credit card without any accompanying paperwork in the mail. Rest assured, these people always received a paper ticket follow up a couple months later. In some instances, the car companies pay the ticket for you, charge your card and add on a processing fee (between 16-50 Euro).

    If a bill is sent directly to your home address outside of Italy it is especially important to make sure that the car company you rented from paid the bill already and then charged you or that you pay the bill immediately (which is cheaper then filing an appeal). If you do not pay the ticket after having received the bill in the mail at your home address then the Italian authorities will send the bill to European Municipal Outsourcing, a very aggressive debt collection agency.

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