The commissioner of Poland's traffic police has confirmed that users of Wrocław's new electric car service could be fined for not having the original vehicle registration in their rental car.
Vozilla, who run the new service, keep the original vehicle registration documents in their offices and provide copies in each car. The same is true when it comes to the insurance documents.
That could nonetheless entail some problems. According to Gazeta Wrocławska, police commissioner Radoslaw Kobryś has stated that the photocopies of the documents provided by Vozilla are not sufficient to avoid being fined.
A photocopy is not a legal document. Driving a car without an original vehicle registration paper is a misdemeanor. The driver of the vehicle from the rental company can therefore be fined if they are stopped for inspection.
Radoslaw Kobryś, commissioner of the traffic department at Poland's main police headquarters
Kobryś' comments indicate that if a police officer asks a Vozilla user to pull over, the driver could be fined anything between 50-250zł (although Gazeta Wrocławska suggest the smallest fine is far more common in the event of a missing vehicle registration).
Given that it is now public knowledge that the Vozilla cars don't contain the original docs, it appears to be just a matter of time before someone driving one of the electric cars is fined. Poland's police force have a habit of handing out fines for minor offences, and the distinct colourscheme of the electric cars make them very easy to identify.
The company who operate the Vozilla electric car rental service, Enigma, were well aware of this issue before the cars hit Wrocław's streets. It is said that the car rental agreement even contains a clause that stipulates the company "will return the user any costs (e.g. fines) related to not having the original copy of the registration document and the document of the vehicle's insurance policy."
The above-mentioned clause does appear to solve the problem from a user's perspective. However Marcin Zatorski, a legal adviser at Zatorski & Partners, believes that there are further legal consequences related to the action of another person funding the payment of a fine.
"Anyone other than the person to which it [the fine] was addressed to, or anyone who organizes a public fund-raiser to pay a fine who is not the nearest person to a fined person [e.g. husband/wife/brother/sister etc.] who pays a fine for the fined person, or offers them or the person closest to them the money for that purpose, is subject to a penalty, arrest or a fine. Please note that the fine would be considered unpaid, meaning the penalty is considered unfinished and the money must therefore be paid to the State Treasury."
Marcin Zatorski, legal adviser at Zatorski & Partners
Gazeta Wrocławska reportedly contacted both Wrocław City Council and Enigma regarding the issue yesterday, but have yet to receive a response. Wrocław Uncut also contacted Vozilla's press representative earlier today and we are awaiting her answer.
The news of the vehicle registration issue comes at a bad time for the new electric car rental service, which just yesterday sent out a glowing press release packed with rosy statistics.
Within the first three days of the service launching, an impressive 2,500+ users registered in the system and the cars were rented over 1,400 times. The total distance covered by the 100 available electric rental cars in the first few days of the service reportedly exceeded 8,000km.
Vozilla's main rivals, Traficar, have sought to take advantage of the legal cloud hanging over the electric car rental scheme. Elżbieta Piekarczyk, one of Traficar's representatives, was only too happy to tell Gazeta Wrocławska this morning that their vehicles all contain the original documents.