Dealing with the Policia

Discussion in 'Americas' started by BMW Kurt, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. BobLoblaw

    BobLoblaw Comfortably Numb

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    reread post 3 and you do realize, that although an unproductive waste of time, the "business card" is a theatening gesture exactly the opposite of the kill them with kindness approach you advocate. And the no habla technique worked for me last winter in Mex and I expect it work just fine this winter if needed
    #21
  2. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    The AAA international drivers license deal is quickly going the way of the dinosaur, the cops are getting wise to this.
    Be careful with that and even handing over an expired license. A seasoned corrupt cop can easily spot the difference and they have learned to expect this from foreigners.

    The Dodge police pursuit vehicles are not just limited to the Federales de Caminos, some state police are using them, too.

    The no habla works until you get a cop that knows some English, then you are going to learn the dance or learn just how solid your ideals against corruption really are. Keeping that point in mind, look at the various scenarios that can develop:

    1. If you take a position that p.o.'s the cop, you are going to be in for some fun. It will be fun for them, not you.

    2. If you take a position of not having done anything wrong (and really haven't done anything wrong and are not playing chicken with them) you can sort it out at the cop shop if they agree to this. Remember, they can detain you if they want and the US Embassy or any embassy isn't going to give a damn about it. If you are in a position where you have to call an embassy you are in way over your head if you don't speak Spanish.

    3. If you take a position of having done something wrong but don't want the inconvenience of going through all the hassles of the paper work of the fine, you will then give the cop a sum of money that will satisfy them and you and you will be on your way very quickly.

    4. If you take a position of having done something wrong, are polite and respectful and most of all humble as possible, you will likely have the guy lecture you a little on your imprudence and let you go with a warning. This can take a few more minutes of your time and keep everyone happy. You hold your nose and apologize (or thank them if they really are trying to teach you the difference of right of way at a busy intersection or to slow down because of loose animals or unmarked topes, etc...).

    5. If you take a position of having done something wrong and prefer to pay the fine and skip the lecture, it will be anywhere from a half an hour to a half a day or so of your time and more expensive than you think in some areas.
    Traffic fines have increased in order to make it easier for the corrupt cops to take a bigger bite out of you.

    6. If you take a position of having done nothing wrong and you know they stopped you simply to extort money from you, like in Tampico, you can wait them out while being very polite. They will be losing money and don't want to do that. But it has to become a case of "they know that you know that they know that you know" first.

    Things are changing, more cops have radios and almost all have cell phones now, they can call other cops in and really lean on you, they can call a cop that speaks English or take you to the cop shop where someone might speak some English, and they can mess with you all day long IF you get them angry. Very few riders have thought it through past the "no habla" stuff. What are you going to do if the cop speaks some English? That is what the above scenarios take into account.

    What do you think would happen to a Mexican driver in the US who gets stopped by a cop and then claims they don't speak English? This isn't rocket science, it is common sense. Some of us deal with things like this every single day.
    The average level of education of a traffic cop is very low, they get their positions through political and family favors.
    Some, however, have worked and lived in the US and have some English. Others are surprisingly quick and very well schooled in what they do, these ones are driving cars and not bikes, by the way unless they feel like getting some fresh air.

    Things aren't the way they used to be. The Acapulco story is interesting, but it won't work everywhere.

    Long story short.
    Pay the fine
    or
    Pay the cop
    or
    Pay attention to the lecture
    Choose your course of action.

    Some of them are bad, and very, very, very few of them are actually trying to help you. Learn the difference, and you won't ever learn this difference by not speaking their language.
    #22
  3. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Clif Notes Version of the above: If you're not the type to freak out, in the end, it really comes down to what your time is worth.
    #23
  4. BobLoblaw

    BobLoblaw Comfortably Numb

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    I've got no problem with a cop that speaks english, in fact I feel more comfortable. My default position would be MikeMike number 4 practicing being polite, respectful and humble. I would however be inclined to be careful to neither deny or admit any wrongdoing.
    #24
  5. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    I was once stopped by a cop who knew spanish and mandarin.

    I countered with polish and swahili.

    He shot me.
    #25
  6. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    In which case you will get the lecture anyways and maybe a severe amount of tongue clucking and clicking, some finger waving that would put the fear of the Lord into a proctologist, a menacing smile filled with silver edged teeth, and a final handshake. And not in that order, at least up to the handshake part.
    Then the merry caravan heads off on its way with nobody left behind, peace in the valley, and not one embassy staffer awakened from the gentle slumber of their afternoon "workload" to dash to the protection of a gringo who is in the life threatening position of having had the extreme and utter misfortune of being detained by a corrupt traffic cop.
    I would dearly love to hear the ensuing conversation of an American embassy staffer and the shift commander from his lair in the "commandancia" of the local cop shop.
    Some day I will let you in on the time honored and well tested Jedi mind trick of how to deal with transitos.
    However, like the shows advertised on the little pieces of paper given out by taxi drivers and street kids, it is best viewed up close and personal, live and in the flesh.
    #26
  7. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    Hah! That's nothing! I once told one that I knew kung fu. He just smiled and told me he knew ten other Chinese words and had me cowering in painful submission to his superior idiomatic arts.
    #27
  8. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    Well, I don't often agree with Misery Goat but he has a good point in his post above. I'm gonna take his advice.

    If (When) I get pulled over I'm just gonna smile to myself and say "This is the adventure part of the ride!" and enjoy the ensuing conversation with the locals! :asta
    #28
  9. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Book your next police encounter with Expedia. Major wow factor.

    [​IMG]
    #29
  10. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Last year in Veracuz I went the wrong way down a 1 way street to a hotel (25 yds) The cop was right there so after paying my 100 peso fine and shaking hands he said follow me to a better hotel and 100 pesos cheaper! I followed him and when we passed the new hotel we had to do a u turn right in the middle of the hwy. he waved as I pulled into the new hotel. All my encounters I try to treat them like I would in my own country.Must be my age and personality.
    #30
  11. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    :freaky :clap
    #31
  12. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    That's what I'm talking about! That's the "adventure part" of the ride! :D
    #32
  13. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    Personality mostly. I have gotten some of my best travel advice from the Mexican authorities. After all, they know where the best bars are at. :lol3
    #33
  14. tobster9

    tobster9 Sky larker

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    dear sir,.

    I made it to cabo 3 days ago and decided to go out and celebrate after a loinig 6000k ride, I went into town a bar had a deal on 2 tequillas and 2 beers for $5 so I had a couple of those then a couple more, I was slightly wasted when I went to get on my bike later but confident I could make it back to my crap campground. I was parked in downtown cabo next to tourist info where they have secuirty in the carpark, unfortunately my licence plate fell off about 10 days ago, after tipping the guard and pulling a small wheelie, (really small) I pulled out into the road up a one way street, slipped between 2 barriers and then onto the road to take me home. 3 policeman, blocked the road and made me get off the bike. Have you been drinking they asked, of course I said this is cabo. Are you on your own, yes I said no one wants to drink and drive but me. where is your hotel? over there is say, whats the name, I dont know I say. Wheres you licence plate? in the desert, i looked every, where for it I say. where is your driving licence? in my hotel I say, where is your passport? in the hotel I say, do yo uhave any ID, no I say. By now they are slightly pissed off and slightly suprised. I asked them what they want me to do and say that now I understand that I have made a bad mistake, oh how sorry I am I say. So the police tell me there is 3 offences, no ID, up a one way street and crossing the road dividers. Im swaying a bit and he adds that the best thing is for him to tow my bike to the station, give me a medical and (all at my expense) and I then spend the night in jail. I agreed and said that sounded like a good idea but then I suggested I get a taxi and get the money for the fine and also get my ID, I said I coukld be back in 20 mins, maybe 10 if I take the bike. He doesnt want to let me take the bike so I got get my ID, grab some cash and head back, I took 800 cos I didnt have anymore. When I got back he told me the 3 offences would cost 700 pesos, I said that seemed very fair and then I discretely passed him my helmet with the cash inside. I shook their hands, said buenos noches, he asked me to drive slowly, I said no wheelies? he didnt smile and I went home.

    Cut a long story short, since heading from mexicali to cabo Ive seen a bunch of cops and waved at them all, they have all waved back, me being an asshole got me introuble and I got off lightly despite being a cocky english bastard. I really wish I could have got this on cam cos it was a funny thing. My advice is dont sweat the cops, stand your ground and sense what it is they are after and how far they are prepared to go. Cops are very underpaid and if you make a traffic violation you should pay something, then forget it, I doubt many have much interest going much further than that.

    I could be wrong though and I still have to get home now, next fun part will be getting through guerro negro with no visa, going to go off road through el arco again and see If I can dodge the fuckers.

    baja has been awesome to me and I respect it but I still want to have some fun while Im here, I wouldnt bother with the cards just smile and say something ridiculous

    Have a great time :freaky
    #34
  15. jordan325ic

    jordan325ic Been here awhile

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    I was fairly paranoid about this prior to my big trip. Not anymore.

    My girlfriend and I did 15,000 miles in Mexico/Central America/South America without paying a single bribe. First thing to do is to follow local traffic. I was on a 250cc bike so this wasn't hard but I was passed by dozens of travelers on fast and fancy motorcycles doing way more than me and the other drivers on the roads. It may be comfortable/convenient to travel at those speeds but it will attract even more attention. I was stopped countless times but was only hit up for bribes twice on the entire trip, whereas it seems that many other travelers are hounded for bribes on a weekly basis. I believe this was partially due to the fact that I really wasn't doing anything wrong. The basis of a roadside bribe is always a perceived crime. Also, we began the trip with the firm mindset that we wouldn't every be paying any bribes, and I think the fact that we were friendly but not intimidated was apparent to the police who spoke with us before any bribe was solicited.

    Once, we were stopped at a random checkpoint coming back from a short errand and didn't have the motorcycle entry permit. It is a law in Nicaragua that you carry all of your documents, so we were in the wrong. We offered to take the ticket and pay it in the proper fashion. The officer insisted we pay cash on the spot or he would have to impound the bike. Long story short, we were able to return back to our hotel and get the permit and he still wouldn't let us leave on the bike. That night the bike was impounded and we had to take the bus. We could have avoided the whole mess by just paying the $25 he was asking for.

    Why didn't we just pay him? Because every traveler after us would have to deal with the same issue. Paying a bribe may be convenient for you, but what about every traveler that comes after you? Like it or not, as a high-profile traveler you are an ambassador for your country and other motorcycling adventurers. If motorcyclists act rich and easily intimidated, then that's how we will be treated. It pisses me off to no end to read stories of other motorcycle travelers throwing money at police at every stop.

    The end of that story is that we returned to the police station the next day and the police chief heard our side of the story. He gave us an apology and the bike was returned. We didn't pay a dime.

    That story is just one of hundreds of encounters we had with law enforcement on our trip. Don't let the stories scare you. The vast, vast majority of authority figures you run across will be friendly and your experience pleasant. Really, don't be preoccupied with this issue in the slightest. Be friendly and honest and everything will work out for you. Have a great trip.
    #35
  16. acejones

    acejones Long timer

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    Just curious. what hotel did he lead you to ?

    Was it worth the $9 savings ?
    #36
  17. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    My bad memory, it was Tuxpan where I met the cop and the hotel he took me to was the hotel La Luna accross the bridge. I was trying to stay downtown near the market.
    In Veracruz I stayed at the hotel El Nieve ( 120 pesos, clean ,bright and of course no toliet seat) but a short walk to the Zocalo.

    Cheers
    #37
  18. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    That's how the hotel got the name El Nieve :rofl
    #38
  19. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    I didn't go back and search through your trip report, but I thought I had read the above advice in it. Great post, Great report. :freaky
    #39
  20. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    I thought even the local authorities get that information from you :lol3
    #40