Irish cops finally "catch" Prawo Jazdy

Cops in Northern Ireland have finally solved the mystery of "the worst driver in Ireland," a man called Prawo Jadzy who had rackedup many infractions but had never been brought to justice because he'd given a string of fake addresses:
"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."

The officer added that the "mistake" needed to be rectified immediately and asked that a memo be circulated throughout the force.

The mystery of Ireland's worst driver (via William Gibson)


  1. My Polish wife and I live in Krakow. We were discussing this yesterday, wondering if Pan/Pani Jazdy were able to keep a perfectly straight face when presented with the ticket.

    Luckily, I have not had TOO many run-ins with the traffic police here, though one time was both memorable and relevant here: I was signaled to pull over as I had been speeding on the way back from Zakopane (in the Tatra Mountains) to Krakow. Resignedly I did so and rolled down the driver’s side window as the police approached. The policeman started in with his spiel to which I replied, somewhat sheepishly but nonetheless in English, “I don’t speak Polish”.

    The Police officer’s prompt response was “O BOZE!” (Oh GOD!) He proceeded to tell my wife to instruct me to slow down and be safe and to get on our way as he was not going to go through the headache of doing up a ticket for a not-Polish, not-even-EU person.

  2. Fascinating. I mean, all EU driving licences are standardized these days and that’s a modern one.

    The whole point of the numbering is that anyone knows that 1 = last name, 2 = first name, 3 = date of birth and so on. I

  3. Interestingly, some of these were speeding offences captured by automatic camera, which means, on receipt of the fine, some people declared “Prawo Jazdy” as the culprit. So while it was initially a mistake by the police, at some stage polish offenders began to take advantage of the fact!

  4. Yes, embarrassing indeed, that someone working as a police-officer can not read a standardized European driving licence, where everything is clearly numbered. Makes the Irish police force look like bunch of fools…

  5. Yesterday in one of the other articles about the same, author mentioned that, just in case, they should search their database for Ms Library Card as well.

    What’s even funnier, I’m Polish, I live in Ireland for over 3 years now and somehow this doesn’t surprise me. Ireland is full of absurds like that – which by the way makes it very interesting place to live.

  6. In their defence driving licenses aren’t actually standardised across Europe, Irish licenses are very different as we’ve yet to switch to the wallet sized versions.

  7. EU driver licences are fun specialy when in rare foreign languages and i have a greek drivers licence and a paper(not the new credit card type)one at that. all information is in greek except for the words “drivers licence” written in 15 EU languages in the front page.

    my best episodes:

    1) pulled over by the carabinieri i am asked for the DV. the guy takes it, opens it and he’s puzzled. “so you are french?”. that would be “FR” not “GR”, let alone that the french do not use the greek alphabet as far as i know.

    2) pulled over by higway police. they check my drivers licence and since they don’t understand any of it they make me spell name and surname and then they ask me for the expiring date. now in greece a driver licence expires at your 65th birthday, while in italy it expires every 10 years. mine is valid till 2042. i spent an hour convincing them that it was not a fake.

  8. #4 is entirely correct – this should never have happened. As far as I’m aware, Irish driving licences are standard EU ones just like those in the UK and Poland, so the name should always be easy to locate.

    Although that said, when the format changed a bit the other year, one of my friends who is a police officer (albeit in the UK) was caught out because they weren’t informed of the change and what it consisted of, so several of them were suddenly presented with these driving licences and no idea if they were fake or not, so the idea that officers might not have been trained to read these licences properly is entirely plausible.

    Although you’d think, just maybe, the officers might have seen where the information is on their own licences…

  9. In the UK, licenses valid to your 70th birthday were introduced in January 1976, and as I achieved 18 that month I graduated from my learner’s license to my very first full one then, valid to 2028 – one of the first to get the full 52 year’s validity, I suppose. That seemed a very futuristic, far off date; unfortunately it doesn’t any more.

    Shades of millennium bug – when I arrived on trips to the US at some point in the 80s wanting to rent a car they had to enter my expiry date as 99.

  10. I wonder how many Polish police might make the same error when presented with a US license. Folks all over the place can be insular and not worry about those pesky furriners, even when they ought to.
    Here in Chicago my DL needs renewal every 4 years, but if I’ve been good I can do it through the mail.

  11. @11: With the USA, it would be totally different. AS I wrote above and as Mathew wrote: EU licences are standardized and what’s shown in the picture is a standard licence.

    Not being able to decipher that show a whole new level of clueesless and missing training. I mean, even I knew that those are standardized and I didn’t get mine until last year, when I needed one for NZ.

  12. Irish drivers licences aren’t actually standard EU plastic credit card like ones. They are a sort of flimsy laminated paper that are too big to fit in wallets and consequently get destroyed if put straight in a pocket. It’s sort of like what #7 was talking about – a very Irish way of doing things…

  13. Even thought there is a standard EU driver’s licence, 90% of people in Ireland still have the old paper ones (because they are still valid, obviously).

    That said, the Garda Síochána are a bunch of inbred muck-savages who couldn’t piss their way out of a paper bag (FACT).

  14. Further to my previous comment, the new EU standard UK photocard licences do need renewing every ten years. These were only introduced in 1998 and so renewals started to fall due last year. Up to now, a quarter of drivers have failed to renew, assuming that the licence is still valid to age 70.

    And in a way it is – the renewal is because of the photo element. There’s a second part to the UK licence, a paper “counterpart” bit, and on that (and on the back of the plastic photocard) I am “entitled” to drive various types of vehicle up to January 2028, as before.

  15. EU DLs should be stardardized in theory but it will take at least 10-15 years if not more before all countries adopt the plastic ones. i know for sure that in italy only new drivers get the plastic DLs (and not all of them eithher) but old ones are just renewed. in greece the plastic cards just do not exist (at least i have not seen one yet). for example my gf (she’s italian) just renewed her licence. instead of substituting the old with a new plastic one they just added a stamp.

    and don’t forget that the EU has 15 official languages so every country issues licences in the local language. not a big deal between france and uk where you can more or less understand but it becomes an issue with languages like greek or sweedish.

  16. The Irish drving licence looks COMPLETELY different fromth ePolish driving licence hence the possibility for the mistake.

  17. I am waiting for the first person to suggest (not on this list, I mean in Irish politics) that this would never happen if they had mandatory fingerprinting / DNA-sampling face-recognition etc. etc. etc. At least that’s the probable reaction we would have got from government types in the UK!

  18. This is hilarious, but not that surprising. Polish folks are all OVER the country, and I’m willing to bet there’s a whole bunch of bogger gardai who’ve never seen a proper EU driver’s licence. I could realistically make a fake version of my wife’s IE licence with very little effort (I thought she was joking the first time she showed it to me).

  19. just so you know Polish people can still use old pre UE standardized Diriving License. Old ones had no expiration date, there already was NSA (Supreme Administrative Court) desicion and Insurance lawsuit, both confirmed old papers didnt expire.

  20. Hey guys,

    Nice catch! You might want to check out the original Irish Times article that broke the story:

    The Beeb lifted the quotes directly from the IT article. They acknowledge this in the bold text at the top (“Details of how police in the Irish Republic finally caught up with the country’s most reckless driver have emerged, the Irish Times reports”), but it’s not obvious if your eye scans over that part, and – grr! – no direct link is provided back to the original article.

    Maybe I’m being pedantic, but attribution (with a link!) is important, dammit, and I was surprised at the BBC. Especially since the original was nicely written (sarky and just on the right side of funny), and this is now doing the rounds as a BBC story.

    Right. Will stop being petty now :)

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