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In Russia, it is prohibited to drive a dirty car. I read this on the website of the Dutch motorist association, which is a quite reliable source. It is also reported by BBC News. I do not know the exact wording of the law, so reality may be more subtle.

I've never been to Russia but I believe there's still plenty of long distance dirt roads, in particular in the east such as the Baikal highway between Красноярск (Krasnoyarsk) and Иркутск (Irkutsk)¹:

Baikal
Source: Wikimedia Commons, user Mike1979, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Or this street in Слюдя́нка (Slyudyanka) in the same region:

Slyudyanka
Source: Flickr, user Honka Soukup, CC-BY 2.0

With such roads and streets being still quite common in many parts of Russia, I was surprised to see that there is a prohibition against driving a dirty car. Is it enforced at all?


¹I believe this particular road has since been surfaced.

  • 1
    As far as I know, the license plate should be visible and it's forbidden for dirty cars to drive into cities, with these rules being enforced eagerly by police. The drivers are supposed to wash their dirty cars before entering a city. – Ewige Studentin Jan 13 at 12:58
  • @EwigeStudentin Hmm, interesting. Lucrative business for car washers where such dirt roads enter cities? – gerrit Jan 13 at 13:05
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    That was my experience, albeit a little out of date. The police in Russia try to rip you off on every turn. But I googled the rules. Apparently the only really applicable law here is that the license plates must be visible. Besides, the police can fine you for "damaging the roads" if dirt literally falls down from your car in pieces. Apart from that you and the thick dust coat of your car should be fine. The source is one of many "law for dummies" webpages and it has an air of mythbusters about it so I don't deem it good enough to formulate a proper answer. – Ewige Studentin Jan 13 at 13:15
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There is no law against dirty cars in Russia.

However, your license plate must be readable (from 20 meters) and dirt shouldn't be falling off your car in chunks because there is a fine for unreadable license plates and "damaging the roads" or "hindering traffic by making the tarmac dirty".

In my own experience (that's 15 years out of date, tho) it's advisable to wash your car before driving into a city, especially Moscow. Better to give no reason for the police to stop you at all.

However, regular roads are nowhere as dirty as the extreme pictures you've posted, so in general your car will have just a thin layer of dirt and you'll be okay.

EDIT 20 Feb. 2019:

Back in Russia this week. About 1/3 of all vehicles in and around Moscow have illegible license plates due to dirty roads (still not nearly as dirty as on OT's pictures, tho!). According to the local driver, the law is not really enforced because the fine for illegible plates is only RUB 500 (EUR 7) - and it's 50% off if you pay promptly.

  • Extreme pictures? Look like perfectly ordinary unpaved roads to me. Other than that, you are correct. Police may stop you and make you clean your licence plates, and visiting a carwash would be recommended after a drive in dirt, but hardly enforced. – IMil Jan 21 at 3:31
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    Also, your car lights should be not covered with dirt, i.e. light coming from it should not be blocked, to allow your car to properly signal and illuminate the road. – user28434 Jan 23 at 16:06
  • "50% off if you pay promptly", is that because it "cuts out the middle man" (a.k.a. the state) and the fine goes directly from driver to enforcer and stays there? ;-) – gerrit Feb 20 at 9:13
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    @gerrit, no, if you pay your fine promptly (within a month) then you get 50% discount. Still easier for the state than chasing you down. As for cutting out the middle man, I won't recommend it, especially for small fines. People do buy themself out of trouble but usually when driving license is at stake, and it's much much more expensive. – alamar Feb 20 at 9:14
  • @alamar Ok, I wasn't being serious, I was just picturing the situation where "promptly" means "before you drive off, cash in hand" (I would not expect bribery in Russia for such small amounts, perhaps in poorer countries, but I admit my impression is based on hearsay and not on experience) – gerrit Feb 20 at 9:20

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