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SURVIVING Slovakia

When the police stop drivers for random checks, what are they looking for? What am I supposed to show them if I am stopped? What are my rights and responsibilities?

When the police stop drivers for random checks, what are they looking for? What am I supposed to show them if I am stopped? What are my rights and responsibilities?


Police checks
Driving around Slovakia is fairly easy, as the rules are generally European and, as in the USA, there is no turn on red. But even if you don't break any rules, the police are acting within their authority if they stop you for a random check. They usually check that your vehicle papers are in order. Occasionally they may check your alcohol level, though this is usually restricted to after dark. To accommodate the police you should have the following documents with you:
- a valid Slovak or International driver's licence
- car registration papers (Malý technický preukaz)
- proof of insurance
- personal identification.


Fines
If the police decide to issue a fine, you have a right to defer payment until later. Please note that the highest fine a police officer can issue on the spot is for Sk2,000 (around €50).


Driving rules
A few driving safety rules are unique to Slovakia:
- from October 15 to March 15, your headlights must be on at all times
- seat belts are required for all passengers (even in back seats)
- children under 12 must sit in the rear of the vehicle
- talking on a mobile phone, eating, and anything unconnected to driving is not allowed
- trams, trolleys and buses that are turning right have priority
- zero alcohol tolerance (violators risk losing their licence and face big fines, unless you possess a diplomatic passport).


Accidents
In case of an accident where the estimated damage exceeds €1,000, you must call the police. As a foreign citizen, the police are obliged to give you a record of the accident with time, place, and all information about the car, plus a detailed description of the damage. If damage is minor, as in a parking accident, parties can exchange insurance information and solve the accident through those channels.


Ivona Telekiová, the general manager for Relocation s.r.o., a Bratislava-based company (ww.relo.sk) can answer your questions at surviving.slovakia@spectator.sk.

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