The fine collection agencies, from what I’ve seen, tend to advise people to appeal to prefects.In the main this is suggested because it is easier for foreign drivers to do, indeed, the EMO agency helpfully provides those who ask with all the necessary appeal documentation in English.
But, you can, if you like: If you appeal to a justice of the peace, you will have to make a payment of €38, and you really will need the services of an Italian lawyer to lodge an effective appeal.
The advantage of this option is that appeals to Italian justices of the peace are more likely to be successful – indeed, a good lawyer should be able to give you an idea as to whether an appeal is likely to succeed or not, before it goes to court.
Should an appeal to a justice of the peace be unsuccessful, an appeal to a higher level court in Italy may be possible – but it will be very expensive, and time consuming.
Legal fees alone are likely to exceed the amount of any fine.
Since August 13th 2010, the amount of time traffic fines have to be sent out to Italian residents has been reduced from 150 days to 90 days – Art. Qualora la violazione non possa essere immediatamente contestata, il verbale, con gli estremi precisi e dettagliati della violazione e con la indicazione dei motivi che hanno reso impossibile la contestazione immediata, deve, entro novanta giorni (within 90 days) dall’accertamento, essere notificato all’effettivo trasgressore o, quando questi non sia stato identificato e si tratti di violazione commessa dal conducente di un veicolo a motore, munito di targa, ad uno dei soggetti indicati nell’art.