It can be a little scary to be cruising around Mexico in a rent-a-car and see the red and blue flashing lights of a police vehicle behind you.
But wait, don’t panic yet. The police in Mexico often leave their emergency lights on when their on routine patrol, that alone doesn’t mean they want you to pull over.
That’s when you hear a single blast of the siren followed by a muffled voice in Spanish saying something indiscernible over the loudspeaker. Although you don’t speak Spanish, you’re fairly certain that the officer would like to speak to you about something and you can feel your heart rate accelerate as you pull onto the shoulder of the road.
The officer approaches your window and in broken English he asks for your driver’s license. When you hand it to him, he says that he is going to give you a ticket for speeding and that he will be keeping your license until you pay it.
Fortunately for you, you’re an avid reader of this blog and you present the officer with a copy of a regulation for the State of Quintana Roo that mandates that tourists be given warnings the first two times they’re stopped, unless the violation is serious (e.g. hit-and-run).
Just in case you didn’t already know this, Cancun and the Riviera Maya are in Quintana Roo, as well as other popular tourist destinations like Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Now back to our story…
The officer reads the legal mandate with a puzzled look on his face because he had never heard of this rule before, but there it is in black and white. After a moment to reflect on it (and perhaps a call to a supervisor to ask for advice), the officer returns your license and releases you from the scene.
This may seem too good to be true, but it’s not. We know a few people who have presented a copy of the regulation when they were stopped and they were subsequently released without a ticket.
Here is the applicable section of the regulation in its entirety:
REGLAMENTO DE TRÁNSITO DEL ESTADO DE QUINTANA ROO, ARTICULO 241: Se establece en el Estado; la Boleta de Infracción de Cortesía que la Dirección de Tránsito, en su jurisdicción respectiva aplicará exclusivamente a los Turistas que infrinjan el Reglamento de Tránsito. La Boleta de Infracción de Cortesía no implica costo alguno al que se impone, siendo su objetivo señalar la violación cometida y exhortar a conducir cumpliendo con las reglas de Tránsito. La Sanción de Cortesía es aplicada hasta en dos ocasiones al mismo vehículo y/o conductor y no procede en los casos de actos y omisiones graves contrarios a lo que dispone el presente Reglamento.
English: TRAFFIC REGULATIONS OF THE STATE OF QUINTANA ROO, ARTICLE 241: It is established in the state; the Courtesy Traffic Ticket that the Dirección de Tránsito, in its respective jurisdiction will apply exclusively to tourists that violate the Traffic Regulations. The courtesy traffic ticket will not cost the person anything because the objective is to point out the violation committed and encourage the person to obey the traffic rules. This courtesy will be applied on two occasions to the same vehicle and/or driver and will not be appropriate for cases involving serious acts or omissions contrary to that which is stipulated in the current regulations.
Carry It With You
It’s always a good idea to carry a printed copy of the regulation in you car that you can present to the officer, if needed.
The following is a PDF that contains the applicable section of the regulation in its entirety and also explains that you are a tourist in Quintana Roo.
Let’s Wrap This Up
It’s important to note that this regulation does not apply to federal police officers and there are quite a few of them working in Quintana Roo. You’ll be able to pick them out because their vehicles and uniforms say Policía Federal.
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UPDATE 8/9/18: Since writing this article, I’ve received over a dozen emails from readers who advised me that they were able to avoid citations and were let go by the police after presenting the letter above.
A couple of readers told me that the municipal officer advised them that the rule did not apply to their jurisdiction — they are mistaken. There is a specific section of the law that advises municipalities to include these sections in their local traffic regulations as well.