Appealing Road Traffic Offences in Bulgaria

Being stopped by the Bulgarian Traffic Police or by Vehicle Inspectors from "Automobile Administration" agency can be a frustrating experience. It's not because of their bad reputation of asking for bribes, but rather of their inability to speak English. Often the traffic police officers cannot explain what the road traffic offence is. Sometimes they speak broken English and manage to give partial explanations.

The main thing each foreigner needs to know that almost every traffic offence penalty can be discharged. It's not because the offender didn't do it, but because of formal legal defaults of the establishment of the road traffic offence.

Each offence notice has to fulfil several statutory requirements e.g. certain information about the offender, the traffic police officer, the facts of the offence etc. - all that have to be written down in the notice. If not done properly, the penalty imposed can be subject to judicial review and can be quashed by the court. In that case it won't matter if the driver has actually committed the offence or not. I need to mention that if the road traffic offence is serious i.e. considered as a crime, the judicial review is not allowed and the aforesaid legal grounds for quashing won't be effective. The case will be tried in a criminal court.

The same strategy can be used for other road traffic offences like in case of stopping a truck/bus by Vehicle Inspectors from the Executive Agency "Automobile Administration" (the Bulgarian equivalent of UK VOSA) or in case of minor Customs offences.

The good thing is that when appealed in the judicial review procedure, about 80% of the penalties are discharged. This rate is high because of the relatively low qualification of the traffic police officers and vehicle inspectors from the "Automobile Administration" agency.

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