The Chamber of Deputies recently approved an amendment to the Road Traffic Act. If the amendment passes the Senate and is signed by the President, it will bring about significant changes in the punishment of driving offences and the acquisition of driving licenses.
The amendment plans, for example, to introduce the institution of a mentor. A driver who is at least 17 years old and has been granted a driving license with the consent of his or her legal representative may then drive accompanied by a mentor. The mentor must meet the requirements set out in the law for an "experienced" and "responsible" driver (e.g., no points on his/her points record, or having been granted a driving license at least 10 years ago, etc.) and register as a mentor for a particular teenage driver (a maximum of 4 mentors can be registered for one driver). If the mentor fails to properly supervise the driver while driving, or, for example, performs his or her duties while under the influence of alcohol, the mentor will be committing an offence.
In the context of novice drivers, the amendment introduces the institution of the so-called "trial driving license". If, two years after obtaining a driving license, a driver commits an offence for which they are awarded six points or has their license revoked for a serious offence, they will have to undergo a driving evaluation and a special traffic psychological interview.
The amendment will simplify the number of points awarded to offenders and reduce the number of points awarded for some offences. The current law allows for 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 points to be awarded. After the amendment, there will only be a rate of 2, 4 and 6 points. Some of the offences that will see a reduction in points are drunk driving or causing an accident resulting in death or serious injury. In these cases, the driver will now only be awarded 6 points instead of 7. On the other hand, the offence of holding of a telephone device while driving a vehicle will increase from 2 points to 4 points. Exceeding the maximum speed limit by a maximum of 10 km/h will no longer be an offence. If a driver accumulates 12 points, his driving license will be revoked (as is today). The accumulated points (if the driver has less than 12 points) will continue to be deleted over time.
An important change is the new level of fines imposed for offences. In the current law, they are divided into groups according to the severity of the offence, but the amendment will reduce the number of groups from 7 to 4. The most serious offences are now subject to a fine of up to CZK 75,000, while for the least serious offences the minimum amount of the fine will be increased, so the fine will now be between CZK 2,000 and 5,000. In the case of on‑the‑spot fines, these amounts are lower and, on the basis of the general regulation contained in the Misdemeanors Act, the fine can be reduced to 1/5 of the lower limit of the fine rate. On the other hand, in the case of an offence causing a traffic accident, the upper limit of the fine rate is increased to twice the fine rate and, if the offence causes a traffic accident in which a person other than the driver or their close person is injured, a mandatory driving ban of 6-18 months is now imposed.
However, the changes affect not only car drivers but also cyclists, as the obligation to wear a helmet for children will be tightened. It will now be compulsory for children under 18 to wear a helmet even if they are only being transported on a bicycle and are not riding it themselves.
All of the above may still be amended during the legislative process, but it is not anticipated that the Senate will make substantial changes as part of the amendment.