Sunday, April 11, 2010

You be the judge

We met with friends who flew down to Mexico and one couple drove their car, they had an uneventful trip down the coast.

They said it was interesting.

Going out to a restaurant last week, they had their first experience of instant traffic court.

Kaching, 500 pesos!

Their only error or lack of judgment was having California plates.... all while all the locals zoomed passed...easy pickings, So guess what, we got pulled over.

My friend immediately got angry , trying to convince us all he did nothing wrong. Maybe, but that is not the issue here and now.

I told him to shut up and act ignorant..... As the Law approached his vehicle my wife was appointed negotiator.

Luckily his Spanish was worse than the policeman's English.
Actually it was about the same.

The policeman said it was a grave violation and that we would either have to follow him to the office where the fine would be in excess of 1000 pesos. He went back to the car to confer with his associate......probably to talk about where they would take the family out to dinner that night.

My wife, got out of the car and approached their patrol car and was able to negotiate it to 500 pesos and we were back on the road.

He was mad so I figured I would let professor Tancho explain the world as it works, and works very well I might add.

Our friend immediately started to rant about the corruption, the unfairness etc. So it was time for a lesson in reality.

The difference from the states to Mexico.

In the states you get pulled over, you get a ticket.
Then you have a few options. The first is to pay the ticket, a 15 mile over the limit ticket is now about $ 350 dollars and it will raise your insurance between 100 and 250 dollars a year for at least 3 years.

Or you can take off from work, go stand in line at a government clerks office and hope that you can get a court date. Usually because the courts have shut down to only operate 3 or 4 days max a week they only allow the line of about 50 people. If you are number 51 you must return the next day hopefully earlier.

You then get a court date assigned and again take the whole day off to show up for court. It use to be that if the issuing cop didn't show up they would just dismiss your ticket. But it seems that since the money shortage they now offer a affidavit of the policeman presented by another policeman.

If you want to really try and argue the point the will reschedule it again. (day number 3 off of work) then you can ask the cop on the stand and play Perry Mason, usually with embarrassing results.

Then you will have two options. 90% of the time you will be found guilty, and now instead of the $ 350, they tack on all kinds court costs etc. So the ticket becomes about $ 500 and your insurance will still get points against you so it will go up too.

If you are lucky and you have had no other violations the last 10 years or so, the judge, if he is feeling particularly good will allow you to go to traffic school. If you are good and do not get another ticket in 2 years it will be totally dismissed.

That will be a cost of about $150 dollars to the school and usually takes a day, some jurisdictions allow on line schools at a little lower cost. But you will still have to pay fees and costs around
$ 200 to the court. All your money goes to the government to pay salaries, programs for the other people, etc.etc.etc. You lose, sorry. Not a win win situation.

In Mexico you pay the 500 pesos and you are on your way. The cop on his way home stops and has a few beers with his buddies, goes home and gives his wife some of the money to buy stuff for dinner for the family, maybe a pair of shoes, if he's really nice he takes the family for dinner at the local taqueria.
Everyone knows the police are underpaid and your contribution was well appreciated by him and his family.

You are able to continue on with your journey, you don't have to go to court, send in any payments, get your insurance raised or canceled, have your car towed, stand in line, go to traffic school etc.etc.etc.

That's what I call a win- win situation. You can call it whatever you want.

I am glad I have Mexico plates.


Jerry L said...

Basic and simple seems always to be best.

Bob Mrotek said...

You are right on the money about not showing anger. Worst thing that you can do in a potentially tense or confrontational situation. The best thing you can do is look bored or completely above it all. If the cop was only a local "transito" you still paid too much but in this case because your friend is a "novate" with no idea of what was happening you did the best possible thing. I am totally proud of you.

jennifer rose said...

Add to Prof. Tancho's lecture:

Now, you say that you were stopped unfairly, you weren't speeding, you didn't run that red light, you didn't make that illegal left turn. Well, how about the times you did all of that and weren't caught. Those instances exceeded the times you've been "unfairly" caught, right? Now, please quit whining.

Tancho said...

Jerry, Simple is always good! Bob, when my wife is with me I let her deal with it. I would probably try to get away with less pesos, but don't want to start going back and forth with them. I have been lucky, it's been a pretty long time since I got stopped. Not having foreign plats helps a lot!

Yep Jennifer, I forgot to remind him of all the times they buzzed around not getting me it averages out!

Don Cuevas said...

Great post! Tienes razón.
I'm proud to have helped to contribute to the local economy. (Only one one occasion, in Morelia, so far, and I hope that's the end of it.)

Having your lovely wife do the negotiating is clever on your part, and I'm sure she charmed the cop.

Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

Yep we need to keep the economy moving, hopefully a few pesos at a time.
One thing my wife does, is she seems to know the limit of negotiation. It's about time you traded in your US plate one of these days?

Steve Cotton said...

After one year, I have been very lucky. Stopped twice -- but the officers merely offered some advice on good places to eat, but not on my tab.

Tancho said...

You are one lucky amigo Steve....and you didn't even have to buy them a refresco!

Felipe said...

In ten Mexican years, I´ve only been stopped once, last year up by the border. And I was guilty.

He wanted 500 pesos. I, not noticing what I was doing, handed him 300. He was trying to stuff it in his pocket so quickly he did not notice it was only 300 pesos either.

I´ve long had a plan of resistance for the day when I was pulled over by a cop. However, the plan was based on my being innocent. But I was actually speeding by a good bit, so my plan simply flew out the window.

Tancho said...

I usually always have a 500 peso note stuck in my visor for opportunities like that. Hopefully the guy won't remember that you owe him 200.....
As JR mentioned, if you even out all the guilty times you didn't get caught, you average it out to operation of a motor vehicle. I never got angry at any of my encounters, that is a waste of emotions and attraction of a power play.

Calypso said...

Tancho - The difference in the scenarios you depict between Mexico and the U.S. is in the Mexico instance you did nothing wrong.

Personally I do NOT pay in that situation. Once I was at fault and I gladly paid 350 pesos on the spot (mordida) going along with your thinking at how convenient and less of a hassle than the U.S.

But there are areas we travel, the city of Tampico as example, where a foreign plate - be it U.S., Canada, or another State in Mexico - you will be pulled over for that mere fact.

I have taken to not stopping when these badged bandits motion for me to pull over - I ignore them. I often see them jumping up and down waving their arms in my rear view mirror ;-)

Not once has one chased me down - if it happens I will tell them I did not see them - but again never have I been chased down. I have ignored the pull over motion more than a dozen times; and EVEYTIME we drive through Tampico.

In situations where I have pulled over by a vehicle or moto cop if I have done nothing wrong I grab my camera take their photo, advise them that it is illegal to attempt mordida - they have always dismissed the issue walking away.

I don't believe in paying for something I did not do - or that I pay by rationalizing it is an offset for not having been apprehended for some past infraction.

I say calmly, but forcibly, fight mordida - period!

I guess I am a hard case.

Tancho said...

I applaud your drive to not succumb to the mordida. I would only have to say that my excuse is that I was conditioned to pull over or have some unexplained reason to stop and get reamed for the bite.
I might try the keep going and see next time I know that it was for a common mordida stop. I unfortunately am guilt of doing lots of stuff which is probably a traffic violation. I simply do what the locals do and have been reasonably successful at not being stopped. I think I will avoid your Tampico area, since I am sure Michoacan plates will stand out for easy pickings.
I'll have to try your camera trick next time if I remember the camera....