Tourist disqualified from driving

A NON-ENGLISH speaking Czechoslovakian couple stuck in Gympie since Saturday because of a drink driving matter were free to continue the rest of their Australian holiday yesterday thanks to a Czech-speaking police officer.

Neither Petr Nikolov, 44, nor his girlfriend could speak a word of English to Gympie police officers when their vehicle was intercepted on September 4 for a random breath test. Detective Constable Jan Lichy was called to translate and then again yesterday for the Gympie Magistrate.

Magistrate Maxine Baldwin asked Det Const Lichy to explain to Nikolov that he had been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration of .153 per cent.

“I understand...” Nikolov said.

“What?” Magistrate Maxine Baldwin asked him.

“I’m here for drinking... a car.”

Mrs Baldwin said even though she accepted Det Const Lichy’s translations, she was bound by law to have a court appointed interpreter for a guilty plea.

Det Const Lichy said the couple was visiting Australia on a one-year visa and both had international driving permits.

He told the court they were hoping to travel to Sydney after a brief stop in Gympie and were “just about to pull into a caravan park when they got pulled over”.

Mrs Baldwin said it was not in her power to disqualify an international licence, which made it “a whole lot of hoo-ha for nothing”.

The matter was adjourned to find a court-appointed interpreter and once one was on the telephone line, the charge was translated to Nikolov.

He pleaded guilty and was disqualified from driving in Australia for 10 months and fined $1330.

Mrs Baldwin asked the interpreter to tell Nikolov that drink driving was viewed very seriously in Australia with many people killed on our roads because of it.

Gympie Times


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