Suben is a small Austrian municipality with 1488 inhabitants, located right at the German border. In spite of the fact that the latter is open, border police and customs officers are busy around here, along with their colleagues from the Austrian Freeway Police. They stop vehicles, check documents and items transported.
The other day, on June 10th, 2018, at 9:30 p.m., they approached a mini bus parked at a service station. That vehicle’s driver was a 31-year-old Bulgarian citizen. As they requested, he gave them his documents. The officers checked them right there, on site.
As it turned out, this gentleman’s driver’s license was fake. So was his Bulgarian I.D. card (“lichna karta”). This guy got into a lot of trouble, since legal proceedings were initiated against him.
A Bulgarian with a fake driver’s license. An isolated case, right? Wrong.
On June 3rd, 2018, some 800 kilometers further north, in the city of Hamburg, police officers stopped a 3-series BMW. They might have had a suspicion, so they checked the driver’s documents. He had a Bulgarian driver’s license, which was fake.
Two fake driver’s licenses from Bulgaria? Wow. Where is the story?
On June 1st, another driver, 34 years of age, was caught with a fake driver’s license from Bulgaria in the north-western German town of Bremerhaven.
It happens all the time, all over Western Europe. By now, police officers on the continent’s highways know what is going on. They are watching vehicles with Bulgarian number plates and checking their drivers for a reason.
The fact that drivers with forged Bulgarian driver’s licenses are being caught abroad all the time, raises a big question: Who is behind the wheel in Bulgaria? Apparently, the answer is the following: Everyone.
Talking about traffic, Bulgaria has quite a few problems: Many roads and streets are in a terrible condition, traffic law offenses are hardly registered and punished. The rampant corruption does not exactly help in this situation.
Fake driver’s licenses are being offered on Bulgarian websites for less than 1,000 Euro. A year ago, almost to the day, fourteen individuals were arrested in the country. Twelve of them were driver’s license inspectors, the other two driving instructors. All of them allegedly belonged to the license mafia.
Officers with the task of fighting the wide-spread forgery know what they are up against. They concede there are tens of thousands of Bulgarians who drive with forged licenses. And they know road safety suffers more than it does anyway, because of this big issue.
Bulgaria has the highest road death toll in the European Union, for several reasons, probably including this one. More than one person per day dies on the roads of this country of only 7 million inhabitants.
Another corruption scheme which affected road safety and cost Bulgaria millions was stopped a few weeks ago. Vehicles need technical checks once a year. Those checks are connected to the vehicle taxes all owners have to pay, meaning checks were not supposed to be performed without documents which prove the owner paid his vehicle tax.
Some service stations did not check their customer’s documents very thoroughly, for bribes they got in return. Only very recently, the authorities supposedly found a way to stop that scheme.