Tallinn mayor loses license, 'praises' police

  • 2007-08-02
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

HE'S GOT A TICKET TO RIDE: Mayor Savisaar will not be behind the wheel for three months (Photo: Tallinn City Council)

TALLINN - Rakvere Police Department of the Estonian East Police Prefecture has fined Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar 3,900 kroons (249 euros) and stripped him of his driving license for three months after he was caught doing more than twice the legal speed limit in his Nissan car.

Savisaar, who is also leader of the Center Party, claimed that his license-losing actions were caused by  simple oversight on his part. Writing in his online blog, he explained: "I was on holiday and was driving my Nissan from Rakvere to Vosu. I haven't had any trouble with the traffic police for years and have been thinking - what caused this violation of mine? It must have been oversight. Passing a 70 kph sign I reduced speed, but failed to notice a 30 kph sign that came soon afterwards."

Savisaar was clocked on the Viitna-Koljaku road doing at 75 kph in a 30 kph zone.

The mayor admitted that the police patrol that caught him had not been hidden in the bushes. One of the officers got out of a patrol car and signalled for Savisaar to stop.

"I thought they needed some kind of help, nothing else. I only learned from the policemen that I had passed the 30 kph sign and was shown that I had been driving at 75 kph. I didn't have anything to say or to protest. I am at fault and the act has no justification," Savisaar wrote.

"I remember a singer who was recently stripped of his license but in connection with drunken driving. I also know a party leader who was given the same treatment, but in his case it was at least the second violation within a short period of time. I remember at least four ministers who had speeding problems, but as far as I know none of them were stripped of their licenses even after several violations," Savisaar mused.

He added that he had attempted to find out how many people had been stripped of the right to drive a car after the first violation, but couldn't find any.

"There probably are such people but it seems that it wasn't quite 'equal treatment' in my case. It appears that I am more equal than others and this makes me glad. More is asked from me than from others and rightly so. The fact that the police have raised me to the fore and set me apart from others certrainly puts me under an obligation for the future. Rightly so and without any irony," Savisaar wrote.

The Centrist leader then went even further suggesting that police had generally been much too cautious in meting out punishments for violations in traffic, citing Postimees publisher Mart Kadastik's fine of 1,500 kroons for speeding at 115 kph in a 90 kph zone, before describing Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's bizarre practice of using his official escort car as a Tour de France-style 'pace car' at 70kph while riding his bicycle behind it.

"Now the police have finally straightened their backs and found a suitable driver to apply zero tolerance to. I would like to recognize the police one more time for having fearlessly set [the benchmark] higher than [they do for] Reform Party politicians," Savisaar wrote, by this point presumably with tongue placed firmly in cheek.