Prague Twin

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Busted! (Czech Style)

On my way home last night, I got pulled over. I was literally 50 feet from my house, having just travel 70 miles. I was pretty sure that it was because my tags are expired. I had been meaning to get to it, but, well, you know.

So the officer approaches the car and wishes me a good evening and politely asks for my papers. Luckily, I have everything. While rumaging around for my papers, I had to go to the inside of my coat. If you are an officer standing at a driver-side window, the last thing you want to see is a guy reaching inside a big, dark coat, towards his left hip with his right hand. I think I was more aware of this than he was. A second officer circled around the front of the car, giving it a quick safty inspection I suppose. Officer #1 asked me out of the car "to have a look at something" and he showed me the tags. He asks how long I've been living in the Czech Republic and I tell him, "Seven years." He informs me that I need to take my California license down to the DMV and get a Czech one. "No test, just show them this, and they will issue you a Czech one," he tells me. "If you are here longer than 3 months, you have to have this," he adds. I nod and show concern and understanding and tell him, "I understand."

They ask me to wait in my car while they check the records. After a couple of minutes, officer #2 comes over and says, "Sir, you live very near here?" I tell him I do pointing at my flat just up ahead and up. "Well, if you would like to park your car and come back you are welcome to." I tell him it is okay, that parking is quite difficult in this neighborhood and I will have to walk back, and he quickly agreed it would be better just to wait.

After about five minutes, #2 comes back and starts with "You do understand Czech? You understand what I'm saying to you?" He was very polite about it, but he wanted to be sure I would understand the explaination. I assured him that I did and he could go ahead. He explained (as #1 had) that my registration was expired and that this was a violation of the law. He said that there would be a fine. He checked one final time that they were a full 3 months expired. He figured a fine should be 200 Czech Koruna (just over $8). He asked if I would like to pay it now. As I always do, I pay on the spot and I get little tickets that the city issues as a receipt.

And that's it. I'm on my way. There is a little bit of lecturing about getting it done immediately, and a lot of head nodding and assurances that I take it seriously on my part before I can go. But basically, $8 and 15 minutes later, it's all over. No courts, no writing checks for large sums of cash, no worrying about my insurance going up. And despite the light penalties, most Czechs are pretty good about keeping their papers up to date. Up until this point, I had been too.

I'm sure my wife and my Czech friends will give me that dissapointed look mixed with a rye smile that they always do when I misbehave. There is always a parental shake of the head, but always with a smile.

Pretty much the same treatment I got from the police.


  • They do the same thing in Mexico, except no receipts, no records. The cops just get a little richer.

    By Blogger Crazy Politico, at 7:00 PM  

  • Don't even get me started on Mexico. When I tell my Mexico story, people think I'm making it up. I have to employ Hunter S. Thompson in my defense. "I'm not so creative that I could make something like that up. Reality is more unbelievable than fiction."

    Or something like that.

    This seems to be all on the up and up. I have heard that some cops forge the receipts, but that is going throught alot of effort. I got 4 receipts for my $8 fine. $2 per forgery is pushing the limit.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:44 AM  

  • I got a ticket in Italy from the "Carabiner" (Italian police with mirrored sun glasses and sub-machineguns) for going to fast in my 1965 Land Rover IIA. I was advised that I could either pay the judge X amount or I could pay him X+Y. Making it standard practice to never argue with Italians bearing machineguns, I gave him his money.

    By the way,,, ever try to speed in a 1965 Land Rover IIA?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:48 AM  

  • Here it is actually the opposite. You can choose to pay the cop X amount or pay the judge X times two.

    Sounds like you have a good policy there.

    I can't say I've ever even been in a 1965 Land Rover IIA, much less sped in one.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:08 PM  

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