Traffic Police and My Rights on the road in Bulgaria
While driving my car in Bulgaria a police officer steps up and makes me pull over. He wants to check the validity of my documents or if there is alcohol in my blood. This might lead to a search of my car or even to an Act of Violation. However, how can I be sure that this is a real police officer and he followed all the legal procedures?
Uniform marks of the traffic policemen
I don’t have to pull over or execute any order of persons who do not wear the proper police uniform (color – dark blue and/or yellow reflective vest) with stripes, situated on an apparent places with inscription “Traffic Police” or „Пътна полиция“) and reflective elements. Other requirements are markings on the stop-stick and inscription on the car “Police” or “Traffic Police”.
The traffic officers must :
1. be situated at an apparent place and not hiding behind turns, bushes, trees, billboards or any other misleading or surprising way;
2. give signal with the stop-stick; however, this is also can be done with hand and at night by drawing half circles with red light; a signal for pulling over can be given also from police car or motorcycle;
3. introduce themselves to me by saying their names and title, and If I for any reason doubt that they are required to show their police marks and their badge;
4. be situated on a lighted spot (during the night) and their car must be with switched on blue signal lights.
If any of these four elements is not fulfilled in the beginning of the procedure, the traffic officer will be held for disciplinary responsibility. This also leads to an invalid procedure. Then I can write down my objections about the procedure in the Act of Violation or on a separate sheet of paper attached to the Act. If I forget or for some other reasons I don’t do it – I am still able to object within 3 days before the Police Department. My last chance is to appeal the Administrative Sanction before the Regional Court.
Documents, search and other
According to the Road Traffic Act, the Traffic Police has regulatory functions on the road. The police officers have only the right to check:
- my ID card or passport;
- driver’s license;
- documents for the registration sheet of the car, the insurance and the technical exam sheet;
- certification stickers on the front glass of the car, vignette, sticker for technical exam and insurance.
There are cases, in which the traffic policemen may want to search me and the passengers, our personal belongings and the car. The policeman is required to write a report, signed by him, a witness and also by me. This kind of search doesn`t happen randomly, but only in specific cases. For example, if there is evidence, that I had committed a crime or some kind of other violation of the law, or if there is data, that I am carrying illegal objects. This type of search is not connected to the rules of traffic control, so I shouldn’t hesitate to ask for explanation and the legal grounds for this search. I won’t let the policemen go over their own rights, because I have the right to refuse personal search if the other person is of the opposite sex.
The search of the automobile is something different from the usual checks from the police such as: “open your trunk to see what you’re carrying” or “ let’s see what is that on your backseat”. The latter could happen only when there are material evidence for committed crime or other violation of the law. Special search warrant is required in order to search the coupe, the trunk, etc. There are only two exceptions – when I have been convicted or there is undeniable evidence, that I am hiding an illegal object.
The alcohol tests are very common, but certain rules also guard this procedure. However, I should know that there is an administrative violation if the alcohol in my blood is 0.5 ppm. I commit a crime under the Bulgarian Criminal Code if the value is above 1.2 ppm.
- If I still try to object the reported ppm alcohol in my blood and I have technical doubts on breathalyzer – I could ask the officer to show me the marks on top of it, which indicate the year of the technical exam and the validity of the device. I could also check the certificate of the breathalyzer.
- Another option is a medical blood test. First, the officer gives me an order which I sign. In that order the police officer states the hospital, in which I must go in the next 45 minutes for a blood test. If the violation is made outside the city – the term is 120 min.
- It is my right to ask for a new nozzle for the breathalyzer and to put it on myself.
If I have doubts on the validity of the speed radar – I could ask for the device to be send for an examination. I should not forget to state the latter in my objections in the act.
According to the law I am obligated to possess first aid kit, fire extinguisher, reflective triangle and spare wheel.
Act of Administrative Violation
The important thing here is to read carefully the content of the act. If I find some irregularities I should write down my objections in the corresponding paragraph. It is highly recommended to put on big “Z” in the remaining blank spots for writing, so nothing could be added after that. If I don’t object at the moment – I could do that in 3 days time before the Police Department.
My driver’s license could not be taken in a regular search, except the cases in which there is more than 0.5 ppm alcohol in my blood.
To Act of Violation must be signed by a witness (usually this is the second officer). When there is no witness or the officer is one, he could only check my documents, but he won’t be able to compose a valid act of violation.
[tippy title=”SOURCES” height=”300″ width=”450″]
§ Ministry of Interior Act
§ The Road Traffic Act
§ Regulation for the application of The Road Traffic Act
§ Regulation № Iз-1429 for uniforms, badges and accessories related to the performance of official duties of civil servants in the Ministry of Interior