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Police/ticket advice

Burlington, Vermont
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5 reviews
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Police/ticket advice

We are having an amazing time in Costa Rica and I want to make clear that this post is not at all against Costa Rica (it could happen anywhere) but looking for advice.

We are currently staying near Puerto Viejo and we were driving our rental and got waved off the road by police. Mind you we speak very little Spanish which is our fault, but we are trying! We only had picture copies of our passports with us so the first police man told us we needed to get out of the car. We unbuckled our seatbelts before he said he was going to take our car and we needed to walk. We said it wasn't our car to give and didn't get out. He went and talked to another policeman who came over to us and asked about ID and my boyfriend (who was driving) gave him his US license. This man told us that it would be a €99,000 or $200 fee for both of us not wearing our seatbelts (in Spanish) I tried to tell him we were wearing our seatbelts and just took them off because the previous man, but either because of language or him not caring he didn't listen and asked if we wanted to pay there or at the bank. We said at the bank. He wrote a ticket for driver not wearing seatbelt, which I assure you we both ALWAYS wear our seatbelts, for essentially $200. I am wondering if it is possible to fight this ticket or what our options are. We had actually been on our way to return the car so we don't have it anymore, thankfully. We are on a tight budget and do not really have the extra money to just pay this to get rid of it. Funnily, in a bad way we passed by this area half hour later and another Jimny with tourists was pulled over with a distraught looking driver. There are bad cops out there in all countries and I believe we ran into our first in paradise, I just don't know how to fix it, especially with limited Spanish. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

London, England...
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2,556 posts
113 reviews
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1. Re: Police/ticket advice

Sounds like a bit of a Mexican-shakedown, sorry to hear.

Hopefully some of the forum regulars/locals will be able to offer you some advice.

Costa Rica
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25,654 posts
25 reviews
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2. Re: Police/ticket advice

1. Fighting the ticket - not really feasible unless you are willing to return to Costa Rica for a court appearance which would cost more than the ticket, no doubt.

2. You will need to pay this at the bank. If you don't pay it, your rental car company will put the charge on your credit card. If that would work out better for you, then contact the rental car company to see if that could be worked out.

3. Ask at your lodging about how to report this incident. The policeman who gave you the ticket - and offered for you to pay him - is part of the Transit Police but you should be able to go to the local Police Station or the OIJ and report this bribery solicitation. Quite a few Transit Police have been arrested in the last year for soliciting or accepting bribes so it is taken quite seriously. The trick is, as with all government dealings, is to wind your way through the red tape and that will take a Spanish speaker.

4. No, you never should have been given the ticket for sitting in your car with the engine off and not wearing your seat belt. It is only a moving violation. You could go to a local attorney and ask for advice which is what I would do. The staff at your lodging can recommend someone.

5. I'm really, really sorry this has happened to you! It's embarrassing for someone who lives here. Thank you for understanding that these things can happen anywhere and I'm so glad that it hasn't put you off Costa Rica.

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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15,083 posts
60 reviews
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3. Re: Police/ticket advice

Damn, and it seemed that corrupt policemen has been more or less kicked out! Also, it is quite new tactic, requiring to give over the car, etc. So really really appreciate your post as it can save somebody in similar situation.

Personally, I would pay a visit to local police station, asking to see the man in charge (chief policeman). Probably will not help but who knows, You could hand over to him a written report of your accident, translated into Spanish. Even Hoogle translator will give the man the basic idea of what happened to you.

IMO it is worth trying. It is so stupid to be fined for not wearing the seat belt when I have seen many pick ups with persons being transported in the cargo area - no belts there for sure.

Edited: 03 April 2014, 13:51
Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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60 reviews
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4. Re: Police/ticket advice

Google translator.

Cahuita, Costa Rica
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for Cahuita
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28 reviews
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5. Re: Police/ticket advice

So sorry to hear of your bad experience as Hattie says, I cringe at it happening here as we all want to believe that this is no longer happening. The name of the officer who suggested that you paid him the fine should be on your ticket and so I would ask your car rental company to call on your behalf to the appropriate office of the transit police: 2798 24 69 is the Limon office and 2523 2380 is the number of the department that deals with traffic fines. This will be taken seriously and as you speak little Spanish, it would be best if your car rental operator took care of the matter on your behalf. Please do let us know how this was resolved for you. Good luck and you did the right thing by not giving the money to the officer--this is not a legal procedure for any traffic violation. All fines must be paid at the bank.

I have posted this thread for Puerto Viejo business owners to see, hopefully we can find out more and put an end to this swiftly.

Edited: 04 April 2014, 15:24
Puerto Viejo de...
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435 posts
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6. Re: Police/ticket advice

Thank you for reporting this. Corruption still exists, especially within the transit police. It was good that you did not pay the officals directly. Never pay a bribe as you only support the corruption. You should call your rental car company to talk to them in regards to the ticket and how to proceed best.

Santa Teresa, Costa...
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for Mal Pais, Santa Teresa
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7. Re: Police/ticket advice

I strongly believe that tourists with issues like this should be emailing ICT (tourism board of Costa Rica). Since Costa Rica has fallen off the top 10 list of countries to visit in the world, wouldn't it be wise for ICT to be aware of the issues tourists are facing while they are visiting Costa Rica? Wouldn't hurt to give it a try....

www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/home.asp…

8. Re: Police/ticket advice

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