Police chief surrenders licence after caught doing 190kmph on motorway

Vladislav Husak, photo: CTK

There's been a noticeable improvement in driving standards in the three weeks since the introduction of a controversial points system, with most drivers showing far more respect for the rules of the road, most noticeably the speed limit. Unfortunately the head of the Czech police force, Vladislav Husak, is not among them. Mr Husak has surrendered his driving licence after being caught by a newspaper doing 190 km an hour on a motorway.

Vladislav Husak,  photo: CTK
Police President Vladislav Husak was among the first to praise the points system when it came into force on July 1st. Not long afterwards he gave an interview to the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes, saying the situation on Czech roads had dramatically improved. However, he also expressed concern that Czech drivers would soon revert to their bad habits - chief among them speeding.

How those words have returned to haunt him. This week reporters from Mlada fronta Dnes followed him on his daily commute to work. Or more accurately they tried to follow him - on two occasions, said the paper, he sped away from them on the motorway at speeds approaching 190 km per hour. The speed limit is 130. We asked people in the centre of Prague what they thought of Mr Husak's driving.

"It was pretty stupid on his part, that's what I think. He shouldn't be doing that in the first place. He's a police chief and in charge of enforcing the law, that's not right. He should be punished by the law, whatever it is."

"This is a typical example of what shouldn't be happening. There is so much arrogance in his behaviour and I think that is really bad."

"I've already heard that he said that he will stop driving for three months. Because he is on the cover of newspapers, such as Mlada fronta Dnes, that is a big punishment for him."

If Mr Husak had been caught by the police, not a newspaper, his 20-minute drive to work would have cost him his licence for a year. He would also have been fined 20,000 crowns. Instead, in an attempt at damage limitation, he has voluntarily surrendered his licence for three months, and will donate 10,000 crowns to charity. But is that enough? Miroslav Firt from the leading Czech motoring organisation, UAMK.

"The laws should be - or must be - obeyed by all, regardless of their positions or their social status and the same applies to the president of the police. On the other hand, I considered this 'self-critical' stance that he took as quite a positive thing. I would say this is not a very common thing in the Czech Republic, by any public authorities."

Mr Husak's boss, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, says there are no grounds to punish the police chief, saying a couple of photos in a newspaper did not count as evidence. A curious answer, seeing as Mr Husak has publicly admitted doing wrong. But with politicians distracted by other more pressing matters, it seems Vladislav Husak will escape this incident unscathed.