Friday, 30 May 2008

A Run-in with the Czech Police

A few days ago I got pulled over for speeding. I have no idea whether I was or not, I was in the middle of a stream of cars all going at the same speed and I was concentrating on what was happening around me. However of all those cars I was pulled over.

Having paid my 1000 crowns fixed fine, I waited in the car for a receipt with my sisters. We watched as the Police pulled over another car - again from the middle of a queue of vehicles. My sister, fresh from England, was puzzled - why that car and not the car in front which was presumably setting the speed and moreover had only one working headlamp, why had they pulled me over and not one of the others? I pointed out that both mine and the second car were nice expensive looking new cars, that 1000 crowns was a significant chunk out of many Czechs' monthly wage and so the Police appeared to be targeting drivers they thought would be able to pay the on-the-spot fine.

"That's not fair!" my sister said. "Oh, I don't know," I said. Cars on Czech roads, I explained, tended to divide into two types - newish ones owned by people who had flourished in the world of capitalism, and the old bangers owned by everyone else. These old cars have their bumpers held on with bits of wire, bonnets that are a different colour from the roof, windscreen wipers that fall off at the first sign of rain and, if you are unlucky to drive behind them, smoke-belching exhausts whenever they change gear. If the Czech police were to apply the law evenly, undoubtedly a large chunk of the population would be without transport and the economy would grind to a halt. My sister was unimpressed by this argument for social justice - "I still think it's unfair," she said.

1 comment:

Evan Brammer | Losing the World said...

I suppose this is better than here in Indonesia where the police target expatriate looking people to pull over without any real reason to extort their own version of a pay-on-the-spot fine.


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