Czechs find loophole in new point system

As of July 1 drivers on Czech roads have been subject to new regulations and a point system that threatens to take away the licenses of dangerous drivers. Critics of the system say that it is too strict—that the fines are too steep and that the point system is not void of potential corruption. And now there seems to be a new way for bad drivers to get around the threat of losing their Czech license.

Many say that the new point system which punishes dangerous drivers has rapidly improved the state of civility on Czech roads. Yet its critics say that it's far too easy to lose your driver's license. In any case, it seems that Czechs have uncovered a way around the threat of losing their driver's license—because of no common databases, it is possible to simply apply for a license in another country. Marcela Zizkova, spokesperson for the Czech Ministry of Transportation, explains the situation concerning a common EU database through which police could access someone's complete driving record:

"So far no such thing exists. However, at their recent meeting, the Ministers of Transportation of EU countries agreed that they will work towards passing a regulation that would impose an EU-wide ban on drivers who have their license taken away in one member state."

As far as acquiring a second or third driver's license in a country other than the Czech Republic, Marcela Zizkova explains how issuing offices are meant to prevent people from holding multiple licenses:

Photo: CTK
"This should definitely not happen because in the case of EU member states, it is not possible to possess two driver's licenses at the same time. When issuing offices in EU countries hand out a new driver's license, they should first require that any other driver's licenses issued by other EU states be turned in. This old driver's license is then sent back to the office of the country in which it was issued."

However, the Ministry of Transportation also admits that without a common EU database, there is no way to ensure that all citizens of Europe hold only one driver's license.

A lawyer for Autoclub Czech Republic, Zdenek Svatek, says that it's possible for Czechs to acquire an alternate driver's license in another country, and this within a few days and with minimal cost. The daily Lidove Noviny quotes Mr. Svatek as saying that "the further east you go [to places like Ukraine], the easier it is to get around the regulations." So Czech drivers who have racked-up more than twelve points and had their license taken away can get a new one elsewhere, though their name will still appear in the country's traffic police database.

As far as foreigners in the Czech Republic are concerned, Marcela Zizkova explains what is required of them:

"A different situation applies to a driver who is not a citizen of an EU-member country. In this case, if a foreigner has long-term residency in the Czech Republic, it is this person's responsibility to exchange his/her driver's license for a Czech one within three months. The original driver's license is kept by the issuing office in the Czech Republic, and the person is given a new Czech driver's license. When the person's residency in the Czech Republic ends, she or he is required to return the Czech license in exchange for the one issued by their home country."

So while the dual-license possibility exists, it may not be so effective a loophole for Czech citizens after all. The points they rack-up at home will be stored on file, but whatever infractions committed on roads abroad do not register with the Czech police—at least not for the time being.