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Jail for Polish flag on license plate? What is the new rule about

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Internet users claim that soon there will be a prison sentence for sticking the Polish flag on the car’s license plate. How to interpret the new regulations on plates? We asked a lawyer.

On Twitter, Facebook and YouTube you can find outraged voices of Internet users. “How these pisowski *** hate Poland and Poles! For the Polish flag on the license plate, bastard criminals from pis, they will put you in prison!” – wrote one Twitter user on March 19 (original spelling of all posts). He illustrated the entry with the headline of the article with the title: “Change of regulations. Prison for a sticker with the Polish flag on the board. And more.” The context shows that the Internet user means that some drivers stick small stickers with the Polish flag on the license plates instead of the European Union flag. The tweet has already been viewed over 25,000 times. times. Almost 600 Internet users liked it. Many of them were also outraged. “I don’t understand? Are we Polish?”; “Isn’t there a clause for this – treason etc. Those who passed this should be behind bars” – we read in the comments section.

“Prison for the Polish flag?”; “They will put you in jail!” – Internet users comment on the new regulationsTwitter/YouTube/Facebook

Also on March 19, a recording appeared on YouTube with the title “Can you go to jail for a sticker with the Polish flag on the license plate?”. Its author referred to an article by the Interia website about the already passed changes to the Penal Code. Although he presented them in a sensational tone, he did not directly decide what resulted from these provisions. On the other hand, commentators of the film openly demonstrated indignation. “Let’s Defend Poland”; “As if Poland were a normal, independent, sovereign and self-respecting country, any attempt to raise a hand to the Polish flag should end with chopping off such a hand…” – they wrote.

We also found alarming comments on Facebook – we entry of the National Movement of February 23. According to its author, the new regulations in practice mean: “5 years in prison for the bride and groom who will arrive from the church with a ‘Young Couple’ sign. 5 years in prison for a Polish patriot who wants to stick the Polish flag on the EU stars on the board.”

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Netizens referred to the act of July 7, 2022 amending the Act – Penal Code and some other acts, which will enter into force on October 1, 2023. Indeed, the Act provides for a prison sentence of between three months and five years for using a counterfeit or tampered license plate. In the opinion of the lawyer interviewed by Konkret24, simply sticking a sticker with a flag on the board does not break the new regulation. However, it cannot be ruled out that it may be interpreted differently by the courts – including unfavorable ones for drivers.

Amendment of the Penal Code

Act of July 7, 2022 amending the Act – Penal Code and some other acts, was published in the Journal of Laws on December 13, 2022. Most of the provisions were to enter into force three months after the date of publication. This would mean that they would take effect in mid-March. However, the Act of January 26, 2023 amending the Act – Code of Civil Procedure and certain other acts, delayed the amendments and postponed their entry into October 1, 2023.

In the amendment to the Penal Code, in Article 306c, par. 1, we can read that “whoever takes away the registration plate of a motor vehicle, enabling the entry of this vehicle into traffic in the territory of the Republic of Poland, or counterfeits or alters it in order to use it as an authentic motor vehicle registration plate, shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a term of between 3 months and 5 years.” .

“The same punishment is imposed on anyone who uses a motor vehicle registration plate not assigned to the vehicle on which it was placed, or uses a counterfeit or altered motor vehicle registration plate as an authentic one” – added in the second paragraph.

Lawyer: “Changing is an interference in the content that changes the meaning and meaning of a given information”

“In the new provision, the legislator provided for a penalty of three months to five years in prison for the theft of a license plate, counterfeiting an authentic license plate in order to use it as authentic, as well as identical criminal liability will be imposed on the perpetrator who uses a replica of the license plate on the vehicle” – that’s the point of the new rules lawyer Jędrzej Kwiczor explained in an interview with TVN Turbo.

We asked Mr. Kwiczor about the alarming voices of Internet users regarding sticking stickers on boards. – According to the definitions created by the courts in their rulings in cases concerning the processing of documents, which we can use as a guide, processing is an interference in the content that changes the meaning and sense of a given information – the lawyer points out. So is the sticker with the Polish flag an interference with the content? – In my opinion, no, but I cannot rule out that some court will adopt a less favorable interpretation of this provision and will convict for it – replies attorney Kwiczor. He also estimates that in practice a lot will depend on the guidelines of the Police Commander-in-Chief. – It is according to these guidelines that police officers usually decide on the interpretation of the regulations – he emphasizes.

According to Jędrzej Kwiczor, in the absence of the original plaque and replacing it, for example, with the inscription “Newlyweds”, one cannot speak of a breach of the new regulation, but at most of an offence. – It’s not about forgery, it’s about using a commemorative board. Such a board is not intended to mislead anyone – explains the lawyer. In his opinion, interference with the content of the registration plate can be considered as applying a magnet to the registration plate in such a way that a significant part of it is obscured. Such magnets, for example in the form of a leaf, can be used to make it difficult to identify a vehicle captured by a speed camera.

Author:Krzysztof Jablonowski

Main photo source: Shutterstock/Twitter

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