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Possible Gringo Speed Trap - While on the way to La Paz at 10 AM Saturday morning, we were stopped at the outskirts South of the city limits by the Policia for "speeding." I saw the cop with someone else pulled over on the other side of the highway and I didn't think anything of it, and we even made eye contact as we drove by. As I wasn't going fast, I didn't think to check my speedometer. Many cars had passed us and continued to do so. Two miles down the road, he caught up and pulled us over and accused us of speeding. He informed us that, although the Federal Highway speed is 80 km, it drops to 60 km at the city limits and said we were going faster than that. This was out on the four lane where the new section meets the old. When he said he was going to write us a ticket for $807 pesos, we swallowed our anger, paid a mordita and went on our way.

Could have just been bad luck but it's possible they're targeting cars there now because the road is better coming into town and people enter the city limits with greater speed. BTW, parts of the same section of older four lane are posted with various and conflicting speed limit signs reading 40 km and even 30 km (for our metrically challenged readers, that's only 18 mph on a four lane highway!). So, may be nothing but be cautious. - Alan and Debra

SPEED TRAP IN LA PAZ - Hi Everybody... Regarding the Speed Trap in La Paz, we had exactly the same experience the other day. The trick speed limit signs are alive and well. We very calmly said we would have no problem paying the ticket in town on our next trip. The officer then said that there were very long lines and waiting to pay these fines, and surely we didn't want that, did we? Lisa then said, "OK, how much would it cost us to not have a long wait ?" A shrug of his shoulders, and a glance of "Welllll, Maybe"...We popped a 200 peso note into his hand, a small lecture that this was not a free-way, and we were on our way. - Doug and Lisa, Todos Santos

I am responding to the person who got the ticket on the outskirts of La Paz. Please don't pay them without a fight and some threats if you can manage it and always insist on going to the station. When driving here I really recommend that you have a "cop pocket" or wallet with whatever you think is appropriate like 400 or less pesos and then the rest of your cash in another pocket. After much complaining and making them spend the time to go to the station say "this is all I have" and turn your pocket inside out. Some change spilling about is always a nice touch. The ticket will be rewritten for that amount and off you go. The more time and hassle you make the less time they have for hassling others and might just let you go if you are a real pain. Meanwhile some of us have gone by unmolested with a tip of our sombreros. - James Black

Much discussion about this issue at the Baja Nomad Forums:

RE: Possible Speed Trap in La Paz... On Cop stuff, when you smell a shakedown, use Jim Black´s method to the letter, with one exception...SHOW your driver´s license, but do not hand it over. "What´s the problem? I wasn't doing whatever, I don't understand, let's go downtown," all of that followed by 4 $50 peso notes, one at a time from the special pocket... From the moment the cop has your DL in his hands, he is empowered, don't let that happen. - Patrick----Todos Santos

Many people said, "Don't pay them, it only makes the problem worse for all of us." I agree, but admit the urge to quickly end the problem with money and get away. Others said, "we're going to the station," and the officer let them go when it was obvious he was not going to get his mordita. Others said it cost them more after they got to the station, but at least the officer didn't get it (or did they...?). My takeaway from all this? Next time, I think I'll take my chances on going to the station if I'm sure it's a shake down. - Alan

Rather than ever even showing your actual driver's license or insurance papers....carry photo copies of these papers in your car in a these to the officer questioning you...never give them your originals...better yet...never show your originals. I have used this method and it works by keeping me empowered.

Doesn't cost more at the station and if you pull out your "cop pocket" and show them that is all you have because then they realize there is no more. I carry many scanned and JPGed full 8 1/2 X 11 pictures of my license and hand that to them. Also if your new license hasn't shown up in the mail yet you can photo shop in the expiration date and Voila your new temp. lic. - James Black

HELP WITH COPS - With corrupt traffic cops ("transito") in San Jose try dropping the name of the police chief Jorge Joel Cota Ruiz. His phone number is 14-25634 and he has told me he definitely wants to crack down on his rogue cops- the motorcycle guys are the worst. Also you can try insisting on paying at the station (you are entitled to a receipt) and, my favorite trick before I developed connections and Spanish- keep your expired licenses and only show him an expired one first. Do not show your current one unless he sees that the other is expired. In all cases avoid bringing your current license out of the wallet (however if he insists you have no choice). Why? Because they will take your license away to ensure that you will visit the station and pay. Finally, If you have a video camera with you and someone else in the car- try to get them to tape the whole thing! - Captain Jim Elfers, Marina Manager, The Marina At Puerto Los Cabos Tel/Fax 011-52-624-1056028 Vonage From USA 702-403-1367

10-10-06 RE: Traffic Stops: the card I have on back of my license says Sindicatura del Gobierno Municipal – Tijuana (665) 688-2810, 973-7770, 973-7759 – haven’t had to show it yet so don’t know if it works. - Michael Stronberg

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