The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey presents its compliments to the Diplomatic Missions and Representations of International Organizations in Turkey and wishes to reaffirm the Ministry’s policy, enclosed herewith, regarding the resolution of traffic law violations.
The Ministry, being confident that the Chiefs of Mission share its concern for public safety and the responsible operation of motor vehicles, solicits the continued cooperation of the Chiefs of Mission and their personnel in matters related to traffic violations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Diplomatic Missions and Representations of International Organizations the assurances of its high consideration.
Ankara, April 6, 2005
DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS ACCREDITED TO TURKEY
REPRESENTATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Ministry of Foreign Affairs April 6, 2005
Directorate-General of Protocol
THE TRAFFIC REGULATIONS TO BE FOLLOWED BY FOREIGN MISSIONS
1. The Ministry acknowledges that the great majority of members of the foreign mission community operate motor vehicles responsibly and in compliance with traffic laws and regulations. However, when cited for traffic violations, it is important that mission members take the appropriate and necessary steps to resolve such offenses. The Chiefs of Mission are kindly reminded that the Ministry's traffic violations policy is based on the principle that persons enjoying privileges and immunities in Turkey are nevertheless obliged to respect Turkish laws and regulations. The policy further rests on the principle that the operation of a motor vehicle in Turkey by such persons is not a right, but a privilege that may be withdrawn in cases of abuse.
When members of staff of foreign missions are cited for traffic offenses, the Protocol Department notifies the alleged offender's mission of the incident. The Ministry neither intervenes with the police to contest cited violations on behalf of persons with immunity, nor does it have the authority to dismiss violations or cancel fines associated with traffic citations. It is helpful to note that traffic violations typically are divided into two types: prepayable and must appear.
1.1 PREPAYABLE VIOLATIONS
Prepayable violations are relatively minor traffic infractions that do not require a court appearance and can be resolved by satisfying a set fine, usually indicated on the citation itself. Should a mission or family member be cited for such an offense, the Ministry expects the violation to be resolved one of three ways:
1.1.1 Pay the scheduled fine associated with the violation.
1.1.2 Contest the violation in court. If a mission or family member believes the citation was issued unjustly, they are expected to obtain the necessary waivers from the sending State and contest the violation on its merits in court. If a mission member intends to contest a violation, the mission must inform the Protocol Department in writing, before the scheduled hearing date so that the Department can notify the court. In such cases, the Department will abide by the disposition of the court. Additionally, the Department expects an alleged offender to satisfy any fines imposed by the court, as well as to comply with any probationary conditions stipulated by the court in its disposition of the case.
1.1.3 Claim immunity from jurisdiction.The Protocol Department kindly reminds the Chiefs of Mission that it has no authority to adjudicate, modify, or cancel fines associated with traffic violations. The Protocol Department therefore urges mission and family members who believe they have been cited unjustly to contest citations. If a mission member cannot appear in court to adjudicate a violation, the Department expects the fine to be satisfied or a claim of immunity be presented in the form of a diplomatic note to resolve the matter.
1.2 MUST APPEAR VIOLATIONS
A motor vehicle law violation that requires a court appearance is commonly referred to as a must appear offense. The citation issued for this type of violation, does not automatically impose a fine that a mission member can pay in lieu of a court appearance. Rather, due to the seriousness of the offense, an adjudication is required and the individual is cited and summoned to appear in court.
Some common examples of must appear traffic offenses include: reckless driving; driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs; driving while intoxicated (DWI); driving without a valid license or driving while under a driving privilege suspension.
Should a mission or family member be cited for a moving violation that requires a court appearance, once the Protocol Department is notified of the charge, it formally will request a waiver of immunity in each case to allow local adjudication of the matter. The Protocol Department expects the violation to be resolved by one of two ways:
1.2.1 The sending State grants a waiver of immunity. As with the prepayable violation, upon receiving a written waiver of an alleged offender's immunity prior to the scheduled court date, the Protocol Department will notify the court. The Protocol Department will abide by the disposition of the court. Again, the Department expects an alleged offender to satisfy any fines imposed by the court, as well as to comply with any probationary conditions stipulated by the court in its disposition of the case.
1.2.2 The sending State declines a waiver of immunity. Upon receiving a written denial from the sending State prior to the scheduled hearing date, the Department will certify to the court that the mission or family member is immune from its jurisdiction and cannot appear for the hearing. The Ministry may require that individual's departure from Turkey if his or her record indicates a serious disregard for Turkish Law and public safety.
1.3 ALCOHOL-RELATED DRIVING OFFENSES
Alcohol-related driving offenses present a particularly serious threat to public safety. Accordingly, in the case of a first-time DUI or DWI offense, which does not involve death or personal injury to another, it is the Protocol Department’s policy to request a mission or family member's immunity be waived to permit adjudication in accordance with national law.
Should the sending State waive immunity to allow adjudication, the Protocol Department will abide by the court's disposition of the DUI or DWI charge. Should the individual be found guilty of the charge, the Protocol Department expects the mission member to satisfy any fines imposed by the court, as well as to comply with any probationary conditions, such as a period of driving suspension stipulated by the court in its disposition of the case.
The Chiefs of Mission are kindly reminded that the Ministry takes very seriously allegations of alcohol-related driving offenses presented in official police reports. Consistent with the Ministry's deep concern regarding the potentially tragic consequences presented by alcohol-related driving incidents, should a mission or family member be involved in a second DWI or DUI offense, it is the Ministry policy to require that individual's departure from Turkey.
1.4 SERIOUS OFFENSES
Serious motor vehicle offenses include the crimes of DWI or DUI, and reckless driving, where those crimes result in death or personal injury to another person. In the case of a serious offense, if the Ministry's request for a waiver of immunity is declined by a sending State, it is the Ministry's policy to require the alleged offender to leave Turkey. In an exceptional case, the Ministry may require a mission or family member to leave, even if a waiver is granted and the offense is adjudicated in Turkey.
Additionally, should a mission or family member be cited repeatedly for lesser driving offenses, the accumulation of which evidences a serious disregard for Turkish law and public safety, the Ministry may require the individual's departure from Turkey.
The Ministry again acknowledges that the vast majority of the members of staff of foreign missions obey traffic laws and operate motor vehicles safely. Nonetheless, when cited for traffic infractions, it is important that mission and family members take one of the available steps necessary to resolve the offense. Should a violation remain outstanding, administrative and judicial consequences may automatically follow without prior notification to the Ministry by local authorities. Such consequences may include the loss of driving privileges; an adjudication in the alleged offender's absence, resulting in costly fines; or, particularly in a must appear case, the issuance of an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court. In order to help prevent such unfortunate consequences from occurring, the Ministry urges the Chiefs of Mission to advise their members to notify the Protocol Department, whenever they are cited so that the appropriate steps are taken.