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My Polish licence has been taken and suspended by France (where I currently reside) for 4 months. This time has passed.

I no longer plan to live in France, and would like to drive in my home State as well as other Member States (and abroad). According to the administrative and judiciary documents I got from France, I am "banned from driving on French territory for a period of 4 months". I was told that to drive again (anywhere), I must change my licence to a French one.

Since I no longer plan to live in France, am I indeed obliged to change it into a French one? Additionally (and/or if not), am I allowed to drive in other EU Member States by requesting a duplicate of my licence in my home Member State (the Member State that issued my driving licence in the first place)?

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    What does "requesting a duplicate" mean in practice? Reporting the old one lost or stolen? Or are you legally allowed to hold two separate simultaneously valid driver licenses from a single state? – TooTea Feb 15 at 15:35
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    What have the French authorities done with your driver's license? I would actually suppose that they have sent it to the Polish authorities and notified them about your suspension. – jarnbjo Feb 15 at 15:51
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    I am essentially asking if France has the right to suspend and then destroy a document given to me by my home country. – jaster32123 Feb 15 at 16:50
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    @chx my 4 months have passed. Now I am dealing with the bureaucracy :) I have paid my debt, and am remorseful (and a tad bit smarter). There is no debate about what I have done - my question is, what now? – jaster32123 Feb 15 at 17:56
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    @jaster32123 That's not the question you asked. I have the feeling you're disclosing details one by one and trying to frame the situation as more complicated than it is to escape the consequences. The law doesn't leave you in limbo or create any special obligation to stay or come back to France. For now, you are a resident of France, you should simply follow the procedure. If and when you move to another country, you can take it from there as described in my answer. – Relaxed Feb 16 at 12:27
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The logic of the system is simple: In the EU, only the state where you reside is competent for driving license issues. As a rule, other member states — including the one where you originally obtained your license — should refuse to issue a (duplicate) license. It's sometimes possible to fall through the cracks depending on the kind of evidence required to establish that you are a resident but, as long as you reside in France, you should not be able to ask any other EU member state.

Planning to leave soon adds a twist to your story but doesn't fundamentally change things. You first need to actually move and obtain all the necessary paperwork to prove you are a resident there before being allowed to apply for a license. Since you wouldn't have a currently valid license to hand in, it might be possible to apply for a new one based on a document issued by the member states where you originally obtained your license (that's how it works when a license is stolen). You wouldn't necessarily need to wait for 4 months and I don't think you would be doing anything illegal provided you are really a resident in the country where you apply (whether it's Poland or any other in the EU). On the other hand, merely planning to move is not enough and you wouldn't be allowed to drive out of France without a license.

As long as you live in France, you have to follow the French rules and therefore to apply for a French driving license, undergo a medical exam, etc. It's mandatory after committing a driving offense to make it easier to track penalty points (article R222-2 of the French Code de la route). That's true even for less serious violations that do not result in any suspension. In your case, the exact rules depend on the details of the offense but it's likely that the penalty points would last 10 years (meaning that another violation during these 10 years could result in a permanent ban on driving in France).

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    jwentig - "A license is suspended EU wide, so if the French authorities confiscate your Polish license, it's suspended in both release it back to you." @jwenting sure I understand; I was told my licence would NOT be returned to me, and I must do a French one (which is really another crux of my issue). This is where I am lost, because if this is the case, I must present myself at the Medical Commission in France every 6 months, effectively making any long distance permanent moves unfeasible. In essence, I don't mind doing 4 months of suspension; what I don't want, is a French licence. – jaster32123 Feb 15 at 16:49
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    @jwenting another thing that gets me is - besides the fact that the licence was taken from me, no legal document from the administrative or judicial side talks about suspension of my licence. They only say "banned from driving on French territory for a period of 4 months", so regardless of whether I have a driving licence or not. What I don't get, is why they can't give me back my original document after the time is served, but they insist I switch to a French licence. – jaster32123 Feb 15 at 16:55
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    @jwenting, Mark, I have contacted my government who have confirmed that I hold a valid licence (at least in Poland, on paper) - adding even more fuel to my confusion. – jaster32123 Feb 15 at 17:16
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    @jaster32123 See: Driving licence exchange and recognition in the EU - Your Europe Obligatory exchange of your driving licence in another EU country 'You have to exchange your driving licence if:... You commit a traffic offence in the country where you live' – Mark Johnson Feb 15 at 17:21
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    @Relaxed Ahh this must be new! Either way - thats fine, I'm not trying to hide what I did, I just want to get out of France and not be forced to come back just for a driving licence :P – jaster32123 Feb 15 at 19:09
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Since I no longer plan to live in France, am I indeed obliged to change it into a French one?

Your plans don't matter - the member state where you currently have normal residence does:

DIRECTIVE 2006/126/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
of 20 December 2006 on driving licences (Recast)
  [...]
Article 7
Issue, validity and renewal
1.   Driving licences shall be issued only to those applicants:
  [...]
(e) who have their normal residence in the territory of the Member State
    issuing the licence, or can produce evidence that they have been studying
    there for at least six months.
  [...]
3.   The renewal of driving licences when their administrative validity
     expires shall be subject to:
  [...]
(b) normal residence in the territory of the Member State issuing the licence,
    or evidence that applicants have been studying there for at least six months.

Source: DIRECTIVE 2006/126/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

If you want a driving license right now, you can exchange your Polish driving license with a French one, in accordance with French regulations. Or, you can move your residence to another member state, and exchange your driving license there, with a local one.

I am essentially asking if France has the right to suspend and then destroy a document given to me by my home country.

Yes. You have acquired normal residence in France; as a consequence , France can suspend or cancel your driving license. Quoting from the same EU directive:

(15) For reasons connected with road safety, Member States should be
     able to apply their national provisions on the withdrawal, 
     suspension, renewal and cancellation of driving licences to all
     licence holders having acquired normal residence in their
     territory.

Also, note that a member state where you do not have normal residence can still take measures in order to reduce the validity of your driving licence in its territory further to a violation of the road rules. See case C-260/13, Refusal of a Member State to recognise, in the case of a person having driven under the influence of narcotic substances, the validity of a driving licence issued by another Member State

The thing is, the French state does not want to give me my driving licence back

They are under no obligation to do so; in fact, it's obligatory for you to exchange your driving license when you commit a traffic offense in the country where you live:

Obligatory exchange of your driving licence in another EU country

You have to exchange your driving licence if:

- Your licence is lost, stolen or damaged
- After 2 years of usual residence, if you have a driving licence 
  with an indefinite validity period (only if this is required by 
  the national authorities in the country where you live)
- You commit a traffic offence in the country where you live

Source: Driving licence exchange and recognition in the EU

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  • When a Driver's licence has been converted/exchanged, Field 12 should contain the original driver's licence information: '70.licence_number.country_code'. – Mark Johnson Feb 16 at 6:32
  • The thing is, the French state does not want to give me my driving licence back. In essence, they are asking I apply for a new one - (I can't exchange it per se since it has been taken from me). Additionally, this directive is (again, love the EU for this) super clear on this, but in practice French law does not seem to have any equivalent. – jaster32123 Feb 16 at 10:50
  • @jaster32123 I don't think that is the case. They will properly issue (exchange) a French one based on the Polish one. It should also contain a reference in Field 12. If your fear is that you must go through the driver's test again, then I think that fear is unfounded. The licence has not been revoked. – Mark Johnson Feb 16 at 11:21
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    @magma don't worry - totally valid question! I was afraid that if I left France while I had an obligation to change my driving licence, I would be considered as a wanted person for not completing my obligations regarding my offence. Hence, why I am still here - I want to understand perfectly and do what is required so I have no obligation to France anymore. It seems that changing my licence is obligatory, regardless of whether I want a licence or not. – jaster32123 Feb 16 at 13:59
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    @magma however, one thing I do love, is the access to all the rules and laws online. That's super cool, and super clear - hence why I fall back on that. Thankfully Relaxed pointed out an article there which makes it clear what I must do. – jaster32123 Feb 16 at 14:37

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