Yesterday, I had one of my very rare brushes with the police and it turned out to be quite an eye opener.
We were gliding down wisłostrada on our way to the theatre Polski to see “Przygody Sindbada Żeglarza” (Sinbad The Sailor) when I saw behind me a burgundy coloured Opel Vectra (V6turbo) with some nice blue flashing lights behind the front grill. At first I thought it was just a pimped-up Opel but when it pulled in front of me I noticed it also had a pop-up sign on the real parcel shelf that said “Police – Stop” in big red letters. We pulled over to the side and a nice lady police officer came over to my window for a chat.
She explained that I had been travelling at 130kph where the speed limit was only 80kph, not a good start I thought. I declined the opportunity to argue about why a six lane super-highway has such a silly speed limit because I know how handy it is for topping up the police Christmas fund or as a place to hang around when they are bored of not having caught anyone recently. My beloved wife was also caught in the same general area where the limit drops even further to a ludicrous 50kph!
She then asked to see my car registration document, which I gave her. On inspecting the inside pages she couldn’t help noticing that the car was overdue for a “technical inspection”, MOT in Brit language. As a spoilt company car driver I’m a bit ignorant of what is needed in Poland in this regard, although not anymore. When a car passes three years it needs an inspection. My car passed the three years in August and thanks to the inordinate delay in the arrival of the new Volvo it was/is still being driven by yours truly only now it was illegal for me to do so. Needless to say the police lady was not too impressed with this either.
As a final coup de grâce, she asked me for my papers. Now, I’ve explained before about the very silly piece of paper they gave me as my new residence permit. Well, it is so silly that I decided for the time being not to carry it with me, I also hate carrying my passport around so the sum total of “papers” I had with me was my British (EU) driving license. I explained to the lady about the very silly EU residence permit and she gave me a look that sort of said “Are you seriously telling me you don’t have any papers on you in addition to the speeding and the missing technical inspection?”.
At this point, technically speaking, I was screwed & facing life without the possibility of parole. I think having my family in the car helped a lot, at least to convince her that there was no need to confiscate the car and drag me off to a cell to think about what a bad boy I’d been. After some amiable chatter we agreed 8 points and 300 zlots in cash. It had to be cash because I couldn’t sufficiently prove who I was for them to rely on a transfer and I did get a proper written ticket for it.
The most suprising things about this episode are:
- The policewoman was extremely nice about the whole thing whilst being firm about the rules at the same time.
- They do actually appear to have registered some points against my license and were not telling me I should get a Polish one. This is new because in the past they took one look at the non-Polish license, told me my license was no good and gave up. I suspect they have a new computer system at last. How can I check if I actually have any points or not, by the way?
- Increasing use of unmarked police cars. There was another one on the same stretch of road this morning, a grey Passat this time.
- Given my triple-crime, I think they showed a humane amount of mercy.