PRAWO JAZDY.

From BBC News:

He had been wanted from counties Cork to Cavan after racking up scores of speeding tickets and parking fines.
However, each time the serial offender was stopped he managed to evade justice by giving a different address.
But then his cover was blown.
It was discovered that the man every member of the Irish police’s rank and file had been looking for – a Mr Prawo Jazdy – wasn’t exactly the sort of prized villain whose apprehension leads to an officer winning an award.
In fact he wasn’t even human.
Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish for driving licence and not the first and surname on the licence,” read a letter from June 2007 from an officer working within the Garda‘s traffic division.

You can see a picture of such a license at the BBC link; as Roger Shuy points out at the Log post where I found the story, it shows the value of knowing foreign languages.

Comments

  1. rootlesscosmo says:

    And in Magyar, “driver’s license” is Kaiser Söze.

  2. You don’t need to know foreign languages in order to interpret a EU driver’s license (as depicted by the BBC). Its numbered fields are standardized across the union (1 is the last name, 2 is the first name, 3 is the birth date etc.)

  3. michael farris says:

    Another scam I’ve heard of (from various East European migrants) is maxing out multiple credit cards (with no intention of paying … ever).
    The idea is that since slavic/baltic names are confusing for uninitiated anglophones you can make some slight change for each new card (or do the same with cell phones, getting a new phone under a new name each time you’re disconnected for not paying).

  4. “Another scam”? This wasn’t a scam, this was cops not learning how to read EU driver’s licenses.

  5. Officer MacCruiskeen says:

    This seems to be as much about journalistic licence as it is about a driving licence. The whole spiel about “evading justice by giving a different address” is very likely to have been dreamt up by the writer to give the piece a news hook. There is no reason to think the Garda were searching the length and breadth of Ireland for this mysterious “Prawo Jazdy” figure.
    The real clue is when the writer finally gets around to reporting something:
    “Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish for driving licence and not the first and surname on the licence,” read a letter from June 2007 from an officer working within the Garda’s traffic division.
    “Having noticed this, I decided to check and see how many times officers have made this mistake.
    “It is quite embarrassing to see that the system has created Prawo Jazdy as a person with over 50 identities.”
    So a(n admittedly large) number of clerical errors gets transformed into a manhunt. A manhunt that never happened. It’s certainly not a “scam”, as Michael Farris suggests above. It’s just bad journalism.

  6. That’s a tad unfair: dressing up a not-inherently-that-compelling story to grab your attention is good journalism, not bad. If they were lying about the facts, that would be bad, but they’re just giving it a clever hook.

  7. Let’s face it, if newspapers carried nothing but stories of Significance, reported in carefully neutral, nothing-but-the-facts ways, they’d all go out of business.

  8. Officer MacCruiskeen says:

    Yes, but the BBC is not a newspaper and it’s in no danger of going out of business because it’s funded by a form of taxation.

  9. True, but if nobody listened to it or visited its website, how long would its funding continue? The fact is that news has always been dressed up in whatever finery is likely to attract attention and always will be, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that as long as the facts are there. I once did a post on MetaFilter about what I considered an important story, and I deliberately did it in a typographically eye-catching way; I caught a little good-natured flak for it, but I wanted people to read it, and it worked.

  10. Er, not that this is an important story, of course, but it’s fun, and I’m glad I saw it.

  11. A.J.P. Crown says:

    I deliberately did it in a typographically eye-catching way
    Come on, out with it!

  12. marie-lucie says:

    There is no reason to think the Garda were searching the length and breadth of Ireland for this mysterious “Prawo Jazdy” figure.
    Of course not, since traffic violations would not rouse up the police throughout the country, but the officer who did spot the problem must have been puzzled at first by the recurrence of this mysterious offender who kept getting tickets. I think the story is very well done, the exaggeration is tongue-in-cheek.
    Just because the BBC is state-supported is no reason to want it to be dull and humourless.

  13. Hat, it’s not wise to antagonize the Irish police. You’ll understand what I mean soon enough.

  14. Hat, it’s not wise to antagonize the Irish police. You’ll understand what I mean soon enough.

  15. Officer MacCruiskeen says:

    The original story, from the Irish Times, is at least as humorous as the BBC version but does not rely on distortion of the facts and made-up bollocks to get the point across:
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2009/0219/1224241418104.html
    That’s how it should be done.

  16. Scott Martens says:

    Dad used to tell that story about Mr. Führerschein and the RCMP. And yeah, license formats are standardized in Europe now to minimize this sort of thing, but it’s devise a foolproof scheme and you can be sure someone will invent a better fool.

  17. Doug Sundseth says:

    “…it shows the value of knowing foreign languages.”
    How does knowing Japanese help in this situation? Or Swahili. Or French, Basque, or German? Or all of the above, for that matter?
    I would say it’s a better argument for using a single common language* for documentation. (Not a popular view here, I suspect, but the efficiency argument is a real one.)
    *I recommend Nynorsk; nobody’s using it for anything else. Though Welsh does have its appeal.

  18. A.J.P. Crown says:

    What are you, nuts? Half the bloody country’s using nynorsk. It’s too busy already. The obvious answer is to abolish documentation.

  19. Nah – in that case let’s go with Volapük.
    But as has been said again and again – EU drivers’ licences are standardised.
    As are passports (I have one of those, so I’m pretty of that part):
    The laminated page with the personal details and photo (no biometry except height – which I just now notice is somehow egregriously wrong) has labels in three languages – Danish, English and French. And on page three is a numbered glossary in Finnish, Ελληνικά, Irish, Italian, Dutch, Portugese, Spanish, Swedish and German.

  20. mollymooly says:

    “Its numbered fields are standardized across the union”
    The circular is from June 2007 and Poland introduced the EU format in 2004. Perhaps most or all the relevant drivers had old-format Polish licences. But the 1998 format is barely less obvious. I wonder how many tickets Vairuotojo Pažymėjimas has.

  21. mollymooly says:

    See also this 2007 article from Ireland’s answer to Fox News:
    Non-nationals taking the rap in penalty points scam

  22. Here is the direct link to Officer MacCruiskeen’s beloved Irish Times article, which begins:
    “HE WAS one of Ireland’s most reckless drivers, a serial offender who crossed the country wantonly piling up dozens of speeding fines and parking tickets while somehow managing to elude the law.
    “So effective was his modus operandi of giving a different address each time he was caught that by June 2007 there were more than 50 separate entries under his name, Prawo Jazdy, in the Garda Pulse system. And still not a single conviction.”
    Um, exactly what is the difference you find so striking?

  23. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Am I the only one with children who are still children? Maybe there are people buying children’s books as presents. At any rate, there’s a quite good children’s book called ‘The New Policeman’, set in Ireland and based (to some small extent) on ‘The Third Policeman’. It’s by EP Thompson’s daughter, Kate Thompson.

  24. Kate Thompson’s wardrobe is a bit of a puzzle: “Her customary combination of sawn-off dungarees and a roll-up cigarette – a Greenham common ensemble you don’t often see these days – won’t do for the Whitbread ceremony.” Googling Greenham I find it was the location of a women’s protest for many years, apparently they lived in makeshift tents, so one wouldn’t expect to find a lot of designer fashions there. But wearing cigarettes?
    And no I didn’t see all that much difference in the driver license story between the Irish paper and the BBC News, except in focus–the BBC piece was more tightly written.

  25. Hat, you’re starting to piss off the Irish police really bad.

  26. Hat, you’re starting to piss off the Irish police really bad.

  27. I’ll just quote Flann O’Brien at them until they flee in terror.

  28. Unlike the beloved irish times the beloved bbc had the police actively searching for a Prawo Jazdy (who would were it true have been quickly and multiply found) which would were it true (which it was not) have constituted a misallocation of resources unpalatable to readers of beloved irish times who finance those resources.

  29. The phrase “prawo jazdy” will in my mind forever be associated with one of the many many ROFLMAO moments in the wonderful Polish movie “Kariera Nikosia Dyzmy”. The titular hero is picking out a new car gifted to him by the Businessman (a perfect parody of the type so common in post-1989 Central Europe) with the help of Businessman’s associates, the quadrizygotic twins Stanisław and Mieczysław:
    - Ale ja nie mam prawo jazdy.
    - Gliny zabrały? Zaraz każe v zębach przynieść!
    - I don’t have a driving license.
    - Cops took it? I’ll have them bring it back in their teeth!
    Oh look, the entire movie is on YouTube. The exchange above is 3:55-4:00 in part 4.

  30. Paul Clapham says:

    Heck, the police don’t need foreign languages to make this kind of foul-up.
    My former boss used to drive a Jeep. And it had one of those vanity plates which, not too imaginatively, said “JEEP”. But after he was deluged with traffic tickets issued by cops who put the brand of the vehicle (not his Jeep) in the box labelled “Licence Plate Number”, he had to get rid of it.
    This was all done by English-speaking police on English-language forms.

  31. David Marjanović says:

    quadrizygotic twins

    WTF. Each of them is a chimera?

  32. WTF. Each of them is a chimera?
    In the early nineties, everything was possible.

  33. This is a plot turn in “Fargo”, when the dumb cop interprets “DLR” on a report as the first three digits of a license number, when it’s the code (for “dealer”) for newly-bought cars which haven’t been licensed yet.

  34. This is a plot turn in “Fargo”, when the dumb cop interprets “DLR” on a report as the first three digits of a license number, when it’s the code (for “dealer”) for newly-bought cars which haven’t been licensed yet.

  35. A.J.P. Crown says:

    You don’t watch tv or listen to the radio, but you do see good movies, Pete. You’re kind of like me only you know more Chinese.

  36. Actually, I see two good movies. The other one is “The Big Lebowski”. You’ll find that most social situations can be successfully negotiated with quotations from one of these two movies, above all
    “Shut the fuck up, X! You have no frame of reference!”

  37. Actually, I see two good movies. The other one is “The Big Lebowski”. You’ll find that most social situations can be successfully negotiated with quotations from one of these two movies, above all
    “Shut the fuck up, X! You have no frame of reference!”

  38. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Oh, I just borrowed “The Big Lebowski” from the library for my daughter to watch. I never know what she’ll like.

  39. Fargo is a riot, although my aunt thought there was an awful lot of blood. For years my Minneapolis friends and I have when bored carried on whole conversations in the accent they use in the movie. Until the movie came out we never knew we were “speaking Fargo”. Of course we can’t do that accent in front of the next generation older because they consider it disrespectful, not curious.

  40. Mmmmmmmmmmm….. blood.
    My sister in law went to second grade with Rudrud with the umlauts who played the the kidnapped wife, and still sees her occasionally.

  41. Mmmmmmmmmmm….. blood.
    My sister in law went to second grade with Rudrud with the umlauts who played the the kidnapped wife, and still sees her occasionally.

  42. So what about “Burn After Reading”? I liked it, other Cohen fans seem not quite as hot.

  43. I thought it was a lot of fun.

  44. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Really? Unlike you, I didn’t like it quite so much the second time.

  45. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Here’s something interesting about the Coens, they’ve made a commercial.

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