Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry is introducing new rules on the grounds for traffic police to pull over motorists and the ministry is to introduce a system for people to file complaints against illegal actions by traffic police.
The idea is to stop traffic police stopping motorists on a random basis.
This follows reports about extensive corruption among traffic police, including allegations of intimidation to force motorists to pay bribes to escape real or imagined offences.
Unlike the system until now that has allowed traffic police to order motorists to pull over for random checks, traffic police will be allowed to stop cars only if there is a “shocking” violation of the rules of the road, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said on September 26.
GPS and computer equipment would be used to track the activities of traffic police and what happened when a car was stopped.
The new rules will require traffic police to radio in when they have stopped a car, including to say why they stopped it, and to give details of the car.
Complaints by motorists about abuses by traffic police would be made by phone or on the internet.
Yovchev said that for now, there would be no changes to the top leadership of the traffic police, unless the new system failed to work.
Earlier, in an interview with Bulgarian mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa, Yovchev said that the new rules would allow a vehicle to stopped only if the motorist was driving recklessly, if the traffic police suspected that the motorist was drunk or under the influence of drugs, if the car was transporting hazardous materials improperly or if there was evidence that the driver had been involved in an accident or a crime.
When it was put to him that these criteria were so broad and subjective as to allow continued abuses, Yovchev said that the truth was that for a long time there had been no effective measures against police corruption on the roads, and now there was pressure to do something.
He said that police departments who had been ineffective so far in investigating and countering corruption could not just be shut down, because this would achieve nothing, but now they would have to start doing their job.