Driving Accidents & Traffic Tickets In Mexico
Accidents Happen, Even to "Mexico" Mike. Tickets Too!
It's amazing how few driving accidents there are in Mexico. You would expect auto accidents in Mexico to be more prevalent than auto accidents in the USA. They aren't. Having good Mexican auto insurance is a necessity, just like it is back home. If you get a traffic ticket in Mexico, it's not so bad anymore. Your Mexican insurance provide you with bail bond insurance, as well as accident insurance. If you have an accident, trust your insurance company to take care of things.
Leaving the scene of an accident in Mexico will only make a minor situation worse. If you have auto insurance, you will not go to jail, as some people claim. (Although I now add a caveat - if you are a real SOB to the policeman, he will find a reason to put you in jail. Play nice).
If you are suspected of driving drunk or stoned, you will go to jail regardless of insurance. If the police office puts that you were intoxicated, your insurance company will probably deny your claim.
If you do not have Mexican auto insurance, you will go to jail until the damages are paid. I know. I did. I now travel with Mexican auto insurance, have had accidents, and have not gone to jail.
You will find several different products relating to driving in Mexico (maps, road logs or roadlogs) on my cart (click My Store on side menu), as well as a description of my trip-planning services to help you get the most out of a driving trip to Mexico.
Automobile Accidents In Mexico
A remarkably small number of gringos have driving accidents in Mexico. Perhaps they learn the differences between driving in Mexico and driving in the USA or Canada quickly or perhaps God watches out for fools, drunks and the U.S.A., (I'm sure he meant Canadians, too) as I was told by my father. So that you won't have to depend on divine intervention, I will give you some of the driving tips I have gleaned in my more than twenty-five years of driving around Mexico. In that time, I have had one accident -- and that was because I passed out from carbon monoxide poisoning. Here's a tip -- if you have a back window on your 4WD, don't leave it open. For the story, click here.
My good buddy, Joe King Carrasco had a serious wreck near Manzanillo. He was hit by a Coca-Cola truck. The driver tried to explain to him that, although he had a stop sign, everyone knew that it didn't really count! After all, he was in a big truck! Fortunately, the police had a different opinion and the driver was ticketed. Joe left his rental car with the agency and, not only did he not go to jail, but they didn't charge him for the rental. He did consider suing Coca-Cola, but it seemed like too daunting a task, so he was happy just to get back and have a free rental car.
So, the moral is: if you have an accident, you will probably be treated fairly. There are, of course, always incidents when you could encounter a corrupt cop, but that occurs in a minority of cases, not the majority, as in the past. The Federal Highway Patrol (Policia Federal de Caminos), in particular, are pretty good guys.
Traffic Tickets In Mexico
Something new is that, according to several Mexicans I've talked with, is that the police have been instructed to help, not harass tourists I believe that, in most cases.
If you get a ticket, your driver's license will be confiscated by the officer. He takes it to the comandancia or police station - eventually. He gives you a ticket which is your permission to drive until you pay the fine and get your license back from the comandancia. It is a Byzantine system, which is why so many people prefer to pay a mordida or bribe. It often takes a couple of days to resolve the issue, which is fine if you are staying in the area but a real pain if not. Tell the policeman that you want to go to the comandancia and pay the fine right now. See what happens.
Should you pay a mordida or bribe? I never do. Well, I did once, but I was in a hurry to get back and didn't have the time to fight it. In general, if you can hold out, you can get away without a fine. From a moral standpoint, he who pays a bribe is as guilty as he who asks for one.