Stories > How to bribe the Polish highway police - three simple steps
How to bribe the Polish highway police - three simple steps

How to bribe the Polish highway police - three simple steps

Published 2020-09-27 by Administrator

Many people assume that I’m Swedish. It is a common misconception, since my last name is Ternström and the fact that I speak Swedish without a foreign accent. But, in reality, I am Polish.

Let me explain why:

I was born and spent my first years in Flemingsberg, a suburb of Stockholm. Flemingsberg was one of those project suburbs built in the late sixties that nowadays look like a complete disaster.

My mom came to Sweden in 1973, and I was born one year later. Every year, from that I was 2 years old, I was sent to my grandparents on the other side of the Baltic Sea. To the south west corner of Poland to be exact, in a city called Wroclaw. Here I spent at least three months every summer until I was about 14 years old and could violently protest my annual deportation.

It was my childhood friends in Wroclaw that taught me Polish, how to drive a moped, kiss girls and how to make smoke bombs. Everything you need for a harmonic childhood. In Wroclaw I stayed with my godfather. His name was Andrzej.

Andrzej was a larger-than-life entrepreneur. One of those self made men. Back then he had a potato chip factory. Beside being skilled at turning potatoes and fat into crisps, he was also the Olympic heavyweight champion in bribing the Polish highway police. As a youngster, I first handedly experienced his enormous talent in this special field. Often from the first row - the passenger seat of his white Mercedes - traversing the Polish countryside in search for potatoes to turn in to potato chips.

According to Andrzej, a bribe or "lapowka", as it is called in Polish, is considered an art form Poland. An art form he mastered into perfection during the 70’s and 80’s. Because, bribing the police is no easy task. In order to do it right, you need to have class and a finesse that few people possess. You can’t just shove a 500 zloty bill down a policeman’s pocket and drive off. If you do, chances are pretty high that you will be beaten up and sent to jail. After all, no police officer wants to be humiliated.

Andrzej taught me a three step process he thought was fit for a beginner. It starts by winning the trust of the police man. Without trust between both parties, you can’t bribe anyone. This is really difficult and takes years of practice. It’s a fine line between witty small talk and getting an alcometer shoved down your throat.

The next step is popping the question. Here’s solid advice. Andrzej taught me some code words. One good phrase would be “is there some alternative solution to this?”, or “perhaps we can find some other way to resolve this situation?”. Every Polish policeman that has been in the game for a while will now understand where you are going and the negotiation can begin. Usually, the police doesn’t want to negotiate for very long, and will give you a good price directly.

Handing over the cash comes next. Cash money should never, ever, be visible during the transaction. During those days you folded the bills into the car’s registration document and gave it to the police. The document had a nifty little pocket on the back side that was perfect for this purpose. The police then walked back to his car, “checked the documents” and came back. In some magical way the money had now been transferred into the policeman’s wallet. If you were a Swede, with a much more boring registration document, you could use your passport for the same purpose. I did, but thats a different story.

As an olympic heavyweight champion, there are numerous alterations of the process mentioned above. The absolute coolest one I saw from the passenger seat in Andrzej’s Mercedes during my childhood, was a time when the police didn’t want to be bribed at all. Actually, it all went straight to hell. The police man became very upset and walked back to his police car, shouting profanity back to my godfather and me.

A moment later, the policeman's colleague approached our car. He leaned in to drivers window and gave us the evil eye. His right hand resting at his gun. I thought this was my last moment alive. We would most certainly both be executed against a tree just south of Krakow.

Instead, Andrzej restarted the process all over with the new officer. And now was when I understood my godfather was a Jedi master. During the hand over, he put two hundred bills in the registration document while the police watched him from outside the window. At the same time he left one more hundred bill outside the registration document when he handed it over. The colleague then slowly walked back to the police car. he came back after just a minute. Everything was suddenly alright, and we were good to continue our journey.

So, what really happened there? The extra hundred bill outside the registration document ended up in the mans own pocket, long before he got back in the police car with his colleague. Do you think he told his friend that he really received 300? Or do you think that he opened the registration document and split the 200 that was in it? This way Andrzej bought us one police to convince the other.

Today, none of this is possible. Of course. Long gone are the times of the Wild West that was communist Poland during the 70’s and 80’s. A time when everybody, including the police, did whatever necessary to survive. Today, I can't recommend even trying to bribe a policeman in Poland. You will be in a lot of trouble if you do. A whole new level of morale now exists. Is this because the police all of a sudden got bad conscience? No. It’s because of totally different things.

The Polish government has been painfully aware of this problem for a long time. To resolve it, they increased the status of the police profession. Wages were raised. They now drive much better cars and have state-of-the-art equipment. To become a police officer today, you have to meet some pretty high admission requirements, including a language test in english.

Not everyone can become a Police officer anymore. Not like back then, when the average flunked out high school student could become a cop and start a lucrative side business on some country road in Poland.

As every year since 2005, we have a large group of friends with supercars going to Poland for Gran Turismo Polonia. Not to bribe Polish Police, but to drive on the excellent racing track Tor Poznan. We drive on many racing tracks each year. Yes, the track Tor Poznan is really great, even from a European perspective.

By: Peter Ternström

Coming Events

Gran Turismo Nurburgring
Spring 2025
Nurburgring, Germany
Gran Turismo Riviera
8-13 June 2025
Forte dei Marmi - Santa Margherita - Monaco - St Tropez
Subscribe to our newsletter

The latest news and stories. All the best roads, hotels and restaurants. Invitations to exciting events. Be the first to know by subscribing to our newsletter.

Mondo Gran Turismo

More news and stories from the world of Gran Turismo

All you need to know about Italy's history in ten minutes
All you need to know about Italy's history in ten minutes
Have ADHD? Look no further. We have compressed Italy's history to a less than ten minutes read. You will know everything about Italy's history and be much better informed than 95 per cent of your friends.
The flight safety briefing you have never heard
The flight safety briefing you have never heard
Don't skip this one
Here is the new Lamborghini logo
Here is the new Lamborghini logo
Automobili Lamborghini just came out with a logo refresh
Spa-Francorchamps to ban senior drivers in 2025
Spa-Francorchamps to ban senior drivers in 2025
Are you 55 years or older? Then you might not be able to drive on Spa-Francorchamps.
Was this Ferrari 288 GTO Enzo's apology to Niki Lauda?
Was this Ferrari 288 GTO Enzo's apology to Niki Lauda?
The secret deal between Lauda & Ferrari
How it all started: Gran Turismo Polonia
How it all started: Gran Turismo Polonia
20 years ago - Gran Turismo Events was born.
The true cost of owning a Ferrari
The true cost of owning a Ferrari
Objects in the mirror can be closer than they appear
Here are the top 60 pictures from the 2023 season
Here are the top 60 pictures from the 2023 season
Here are our favourite pictures from the 2023 season.
The astonishing stats from the 2023 season
The astonishing stats from the 2023 season
The total kilometres driven on all road trip events came in at 357 670 kilometres.
Here are our new rental cars for 2024
Here are our new rental cars for 2024
Out goes 2023 and in comes the 2024 season, and with it a plethora of new supercars available to rent from us.
Merry Christmas from Gran Turismo - Celebrating 20 years in 2024
Merry Christmas from Gran Turismo - Celebrating 20 years in 2024
The next season marks an anniversary for us, we have now been organising events for over 20 years.
Lotus vs Airplane - Who would win?
Lotus vs Airplane - Who would win?
Back in 2015, we raced a sportscar against an aeroplane on an airstrip in Sweden.
A night in The British Museum
A night in The British Museum
We spent an evening in the most important museum in the world. Here's how it went.
The absolute horror to ride in a Formula One car
The absolute horror to ride in a Formula One car
That time Peter got brutalised by a Formula One car on Yas Marina circuit
50 000 kilometres in 2023 - Here is the fast fleet of Gran Turismo
50 000 kilometres in 2023 - Here is the fast fleet of Gran Turismo
We do as we teach. Over 50 000 kilometres with our fleet of supercars in 2023.
No pulse: How Saab Turbo inspired a medical revolution
No pulse: How Saab Turbo inspired a medical revolution
The human body is fantastic, but it has it's weak points. A team of doctors decided to make it better.
Why we absolutely hate Dolphins
Why we absolutely hate Dolphins
They are some of the meanest and nastiest mammals that have ever existed
Here are the most common reasons for road rage and how to avoid it
Here are the most common reasons for road rage and how to avoid it
Please admit it. There have been times when you have wanted to murder someone next to you in traffic.
Do NOT wear Hawaii shirts at Lamborghini events
Do NOT wear Hawaii shirts at Lamborghini events
How not to dress at an elegant event invited by Lamborghini
Here is why I hate touchscreens
Here is why I hate touchscreens
The trend of big touchscreens in cars is a gigantic problem
The world’s most beautiful roads are in Switzerland
The world’s most beautiful roads are in Switzerland
Here is the holy trinity of Swiss alpine roads.
The legendary Rolls-Royce incident in Sweden in 1986
The legendary Rolls-Royce incident in Sweden in 1986
That time when Rolls-Royce went well out of their way to keep a client happy
Did the Ferrari Museum go too far?
Did the Ferrari Museum go too far?
How the Ferrari Museum coerced Marek to donate his car
Downforce is dark magic
Downforce is dark magic
I lost my downforce virginity recently. Here's how.
A postcard from Rome and The Vatican
A postcard from Rome and The Vatican
On March 23, we did a private tour of the Vatican.
Meet James Holm, our in-house photographer
Meet James Holm, our in-house photographer
Arguably the best automotive photographer in Scandinavia, James has been our event photographer since over a decade.
Houston, we have a massive problem
Houston, we have a massive problem
I love flying. This particular flight though, every pilot's nightmare became my reality.
Porsche is developing a hybrid 911
Porsche is developing a hybrid 911
It will utilize the latest hybrid technologies from the 919 Hybrid
Alfa Romeo is working on a new supercar
Alfa Romeo is working on a new supercar
They are pursuing a new Alfra Romeo tipo 33
Wallypower 118 - the coolest luxury yacht in the world
Wallypower 118 - the coolest luxury yacht in the world
Meet the luxury yacht from the movie "The Island"
Did you know? Rolex was founded in London.
Did you know? Rolex was founded in London.
The story of Rolex goes far beyond luxury watches.
The Ferrari F356 is the best Ferrari you never heard of
The Ferrari F356 is the best Ferrari you never heard of
Over the years, the F356 became one of the most sought-after cars in the world.
Sued by Ferrari because they deserved it
Sued by Ferrari because they deserved it
Guess what? Ferrari will sue you if you use their brand in a malicious way
Mr Bond, you have what the Greeks call thrasos
Mr Bond, you have what the Greeks call thrasos
Why James Bond films are so important.
The bizarre naming convention of Ferrari cars
The bizarre naming convention of Ferrari cars
Have you ever wondered how Ferrari determines the name for their cars?
I have no idea, I just stole the Lotus from a brat at Stureplan
I have no idea, I just stole the Lotus from a brat at Stureplan
The flashing blue light in the rear-view mirror approached at breakneck speed. Then I saw that the police blocked the road.
How to go from zero to owning a Ferrari in just one year
How to go from zero to owning a Ferrari in just one year
Dreaming about a Ferrari? Here is how you can make it happen in just one year.
Why the adorable Fiat 126p is the best car in the world
Why the adorable Fiat 126p is the best car in the world
Forget supercars like Lamborghini and Ferrari. The best car in the world is the Fiat 126p. Bear with us and let us explain.
The best pictures from 2022 - Places 1 to 20
The best pictures from 2022 - Places 1 to 20
As every year, we select the best pictures from the season. Here are places 1 to 20.
Mister Kawasaki and the most expensive chicken wings in the world
Mister Kawasaki and the most expensive chicken wings in the world
When you have unlimited money, amazing things can happen.
More stories

La Guida - The Supercar Owner's Guide to Europe

Our favourite roads, hotels, restaurants and places to visit

Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari
Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari
A museum dedicated to the life of Enzo Ferrari
Hotel Byron
Hotel Byron
An upscale hotel in Forte dei Marmi set in an early 20th century villa.
Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa
Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa
A luxury hotel in Baden-Baden
More locations

Events Calendar

Beautiful road trips and famous racing tracks since 2002. Supercars only.

Gran Turismo Adriatica
4-12 May 2024
Croatia - Bosnia - Montenegro - Slovenia
Fully booked
Special Event Maranello
29-31 May 2024
Maranello, Italy
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Nurburgring
3-6 June 2024
Nurburgring, Germany
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Riviera
9-14 June 2024
Forte dei Marmi - Santa Margherita - Monaco - St Tropez
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Polonia
24-30 June 2024
Poland
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Dolomiti
29 August - 2 September 2024
Treviso - Cortina - Bolzano - Garda Lake
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Europa
8-15 September 2024
St Moritz - Andermatt - Lugano - Monaco - Saint Tropez
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Italia
22-28 September 2024
Bologna - Florence - Portofino - Barolo - Iseo - Como - Garda
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Toscana
9-13 October 2024
Florence - Chianti - Lucca - Florence
Fully booked
Special Event Cairo
6-8 November 2024
Cairo, Egypt
Gran Turismo St Moritz
10-14 February 2025
St Moritz, Switzerland
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Adriatica
3-11 May 2025
Opatija - Trogir - Mostar - Tivat - Tirana - Skopje - Sofia
Gran Turismo Nurburgring
Spring 2025
Nurburgring, Germany
Gran Turismo Riviera
8-13 June 2025
Forte dei Marmi - Santa Margherita - Monaco - St Tropez
Gran Turismo Sardinia
19-26 September 2025
Sardinia, Italy
Fully booked
The Drivers Collection
Contact us

While our head offices are in Geneva, Switzerland, the team is spread throughout Europe: Sweden, Poland, Italy and Croatia. Please select the appropriate team member to contact below.

For general enquiries, you can always use info@granturismo.org. For event registrations, please use registry@granturismo.org.

Justyna Weclawiak Justyna Weclawiak
Head of Event Organisation
+48 509 706 651
Björn Lagercrantz Björn Lagercrantz
Head of Finance
+46 (0)70 844 64 00
Michal Weclawiak Michal Weclawiak
Event Coordinator
+48 602 134 467
Zdravko Anticic Zdravko Anticic
Head of Content Creation
+385 (0)91 917 32 77
Pietro Bonuccelli Pietro Bonuccelli
Supercar Fleet Manager
+39 349 888 33 89
Marcin Jellinek Marcin Jellinek
Head of Special Events
+48 519 189 081
Nicolas Grandi Nicolas Grandi
Official Photographer
+39 347 917 42 70
Peter Ternstrom Peter Ternström
Founder and President
+39 331 332 50 80