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Driving in Nicaragua...

Washington DC...
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Driving in Nicaragua...

Searching old comments has turned up some conflicting accounts. Anyway, we have rented an SUV for our trip. Will be driving from Managua to Leon and then to Las Penitas and maybe up and down the Pacific Coast some. I've driven a little in Costa Rica and Panama and never had any problems with the police, but I have read several posts here about them pulling over rental vehicles soliciting bribes. Wondering about the honesty of those claims based on any locals/exparts experiences? Also, should I waste my time and the $15 or whatever getting an International Driver's License from AAA (I've done it before to find it was largely useless)? Anyway, any advice for my trip would be most aprpeciated. Thanks.

Cincinnati, OH
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1. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

We were once pulled over for what we suspect was "Driving While Gringo." We may or may not have actually committed a violation, we aren't sure, they claimed we switched lanes in a roundabout or something, it's been several years. We asked if we could "pay our fine" right then as we were on our way to the airport. Was it a bribe? Maybe. Is it way cheaper than a speeding ticket in the US? Yes.

Anyway, I might suggest just renting a car in Leon for the time you want to go up the coast? And leave the drive from Managua to Leon/Las Penitas to a taxista. But it's doable. The road from Managua to Leon is a little tricky, make sure you don't end up on the Carretera Vieja or you'll add a few hours onto the trip (it's normally 90 minutes.)

Cincinnati, OH
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2. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

PS we own a house in Las Penitas, feel free to PM me any questions.

Ventura, California
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3. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

My husband and I had read the same things about the police. We rented a car from Armadillo in Granada and were not stopped for the first few days. Then on the last 2 days we were stopped 3 times. Each time they asked for my husband's license (and once for the insurance papers, which we were glad we were able to locate in a little under seat compartment). Each time we knew we weren't doing anything wrong and each time they sent us on our way with no hassle at all. The first time we were nervous but by the third time we trusted the system. They were stopping almost every car on the road, so I guess it was just a checkpoint of sorts. It made me realize we can't believe everything we read - even on tripadvisor!

Cincinnati, OH
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4. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

Good thoughts, Donna. Yes, we have been through many checkpoints. Just don't talk on a cell phone and drive and you're fine. Also, we have never bothered with an international license.

Managua, Nicaragua
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5. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

Greetings TerpsFan:

Just to clarify a little. Not all police can give you a ticket for a traffic violation. The ones that can are called Agentes de Transito and have a different uniform. Also, if you do get stopped, you actually did something wrong, and the officer is serious about giving you a fine (multa) this is when you may ask if you can handle this directly with the officer. I am opposed to doing this personally since I live here, but for tourists I understand.

Why? Because the officer will take your driver's license and tell you that you need to pay the fine in the bank, then go to Transito headquarters in Managua to retrieve your license. Most people understandably would want to avoid this scenario. Of course, the officers know this quite well too.

I blogged about it on my website if you want more details: Four Essential Nicaraguan Driving Tips

elportonverde.com/2011/…

Cheers,

Mike @ Farmstay El Porton Verde

Nicaragua
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6. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

Hi Terpsfan05.

First question it is sad but true here is a video which is sad how they ask for bribes but i´m still laughing the way how they do it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGpQbRLv_Ko

And second as a Foreigner you have all the right to drive in nicaragua while your visa is valid.

Minneapolis...
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7. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

I have a couple of old driver's licenses that are expired. What if I give them an old one. They can keep that one as long as they want. Do they look at the dates etc that closely?

Washington DC...
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8. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

Thank you all--the responses are most helpful and appreciated!

Managua, Nicaragua
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9. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

@ DW W: they may or may not check the dates, but if they do see your license is expired you will then have another set of problems. If you have a second valid license that would work perfectly...

10. Re: Driving in Nicaragua...

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