Rules are there to be… obeyed! And especially the traffic one. Why? Because here it would look like Romania (better case) or India, which can be considered a traffic hell.

Photo: Editorial staff of Garáž.cz

Traffic hell? Try India…

However, the set of rules and regulations has its exceptions, thanks to which the legislation can be violated with impunity. But these are usually only cases of extreme emergency, which many drivers interpret in their own way. And we also looked at a few examples of what is and is not an extreme state of emergency.

What is a state of emergency?

In order to rule out the illegality of an action – otherwise showing signs of a misdemeanor – it must be in accordance with § 2 para. 2 letter b) of the Offenses Act, three basic conditions are met, which are:

  • the existence of a danger directly threatening an interest protected by law
  • the fact that this action did not cause an apparently equally serious consequence than the one that threatened (proportionality condition)
  • that this danger could not be averted otherwise in the given situation

Violation of traffic regulations

There may indeed be times in life when traffic rules need to be broken in order to avoid danger or save life. On the other hand, it is necessary to distinguish the difference, for example, between the transport of a disabled person with a stubbed thumb and a woman in the state of labor in progress.

Photo: Lukáš Kukla

Extreme emergency is a very tricky concept, many times balancing on a thin line.

To do this, you need to think about whether to be a lone traffic hero, or to ask for the help of a paramedic or the police. Although not every hero wears a hood, let’s not forget that cemeteries are also full of heroes.

In any case, below we will look at selected traffic offenses and examples of when it is and is not an extreme emergency.

Crossing the solid line

The dogma that the full line cannot be crossed under any circumstances is definitely not valid. The amended law states the following about the full line: “It is forbidden to drive over it or exceed it with a load, unless it is necessary to go around, overtaking a cyclistturning to a place off the road or entering the road from a place off the road.”

So, if you are turning somewhere on a pole, you must turn on your blinker in time and give way to oncoming vehicles. Then you are allowed to cross even one solid line and it will not be a violation or an extreme emergency. If you are returning from a place that is off the road, you can again legally cross the solid line, but you again give the right of way, this time to everyone.

Photo: Ondřej Svoboda

The solid line is not a wall, but it can only be crossed legally in selected cases or in an extreme emergency.

What if the solid line is double? Then the letter of the law is as follows: “It is forbidden to drive over it or exceed it with a load, unless it is necessary to go around.”

But what is detouring? How is he doing? As you read above, it is even legal to cross a double solid line when overtaking, however there are legal rules for doing so.

“A driver who deviates from the direction of his driving when going around a vehicle that has stopped or is stationary, or when going around a road traffic obstacle or a pedestrian, must not endanger or restrict oncoming drivers and endanger other road users.”

In practice, this means that, according to the regulations, you are only allowed to go around if no other vehicle is coming towards you, or if it is sufficiently far ahead of you. In addition, you must not endanger others with this maneuver.

Photo: Škoda Auto

Don’t forget to keep a safe distance when overtaking cyclists in particular.

What about a cyclist? Since January 2022, the legislation has changed, so the regulations allow you to cross the full line even when overtaking a cyclist. However, it is necessary to observe the legal distance of at least 1.5 meters, or at least 1 meter in a place with the highest permitted speed not exceeding 30 km/h. Also remember that when overtaking a cyclist, you must not endanger or restrict the oncoming vehicle and you must not endanger the vehicle behind you. The use of blinkers probably does not need to be reminded.

But what if you meet a slow-moving digger or an adolescent on a moped (not a cyclist)? Attention, then we are no longer talking about overtaking, but about overtaking, and there different rules apply in relation to the full line. However, if the road is wide enough, there is no overtaking ban and you do not cross the full line during the overtaking maneuver, then it is a legal (permitted by the regulations) overtaking. Also remember that when overtaking you must not endanger or restrict the person being overtaken.

An extreme emergency in relation to the solid line can then be considered the situation when you need to perform an emergency evasive maneuver in which you cross the solid line – e.g. a sudden obstacle in front of the vehicle. On the other hand, a situation where you are rushing to work, the driver in front of you is driving slowly and you overtake him on a full stop cannot be considered an extreme emergency.

Running a red light

If it is necessary to create space for an IZS vehicle or another vehicle with activated right-of-way (beacons), you may drive into the intersection on a red light to the extent necessary. On the other hand, as an extreme emergency, you probably won’t get away with going through a red light because of a long traffic light interval (long red) or because “nothing was going anywhere and I was in a hurry.”

Photo: Jan Majurník

Running a red light is possible only in an extreme emergency or to an absolutely necessary extent, e.g. when dodging cars with the right of way.

Crossing the speed limit

If life is at stake and you are transporting a truly seriously injured person to the nearest help, then you can probably get away with speeding as part of this extreme emergency. Remember, however, that the fact that you are driving someone in a life-threatening condition should be learned as quickly as possible by the components of the IZS, who will guide or direct you.

An interesting example in connection with speeding in an extreme emergency is an example from 2009, when a certain employee of a private security agency exceeded the speed limit in the Mrázovka tunnel by 13.5 km/h during a reported exit (alarm) one day at five in the morning, for which he received a financial fine penalty, even though he set out to avert the potential risk of endangering property.

Photo: Tomáš Kopečný

Speeding in an emergency? Such a case may end up in court.

However, the person in question appealed all the way to the Supreme Administrative Court, which ultimately recognized his actions as an extreme emergency. However, this case cannot be taken as a precedent, we only point out how difficult it is to recognize/determine an extreme emergency, as a number of factors play a role in its assessment. Here, for example, the fact that the person in question was not proven to have endangered someone by driving faster in the tunnel.

To formally complete this chapter, breaking the speed limit due to a rush to visit relatives, a broken arm or a toothache will probably not be recognized as an extreme emergency.

Stopping in a no stopping place

Here, e.g. a sudden medical indisposition will most likely be accepted as an extreme emergency, however, the urge to vomit in a child, the need for acute urination in an adult or the onset of a disabled person may already be somewhat borderline and also dependent on the initial decision of the police officer.

Photo: Jan Majurník

If you have a breakdown or a sudden medical indisposition, then stopping and standing on the ban can be taken as an extreme emergency.

Stopping at a place where it is prohibited, for example to make a call or to unload/load a heavy load, will hardly be considered an emergency.

Stopping and standing in the connection lane

If you stop the vehicle in the coupling due to, for example, a queue or too heavy traffic, this is permissible by law, so it is not an illegal act or an emergency. This would be the case in cases where you have a breakdown, medical indisposition or damaged vehicle after an accident and it stops and stands in the connection lane.

Photo: Martin Jánský

If you stop in the connection lane due to a breakdown, accident or medical indisposition, it is an emergency.

An extreme emergency would also be considered a situation where you stop the vehicle in the connecting lane in order to provide first aid in the event of an accident or to prevent it.

However, if you need to rearrange the load or look at the map to see where to go next, definitely use completely different places for such a stop.

Emergency is not black and white

It is clear that you will find hundreds of situations that will seem questionable (it was/was not an extreme emergency), however, in the case of a traffic violation, their assessment can be brought up by an administrative body, or even a court. That line is often very thin, and the specific circumstances of the given situation will also play a role in the final verdict. The emergency is definitely not black and white.

Photo: Medical rescue service of the Hradec Králové region

Sometimes it’s better not to play the hero and let the professionals handle the situation.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to stick to the traffic regulations and to resort to breaking them only when it really is an extreme emergency as such. And this often requires sufficient judgment or just a simple knowledge of the numbers of emergency lines 150 (112), 155 or 158. Sometimes it is better to leave the solution to the professionals than to risk a band-aid, court battles or perhaps a temporary stay in a base or a permanent shelter.