Friday, February 22, 2013


HELLO FOLKS: I’m back again. Hope all is going well. I don’t know about you, but this was the roughest winter I had probably in 19 years and the weather had nothing to do with it. But I’m still here—This time I was sidelined with personal issues that unfortunately closed some old chapters and opened new ones over the past preceding weeks. For those of you who know what I’m talking about, thank you for sympathy, support, and understanding. For those of you following me on Twitter, I will continue posting interesting news articles that are somehow related to my posts, so I suggest you click here to follow so you can get interesting stories related to traffic, transportation, vehicles, the police, the law, and crime. Keep on re-pinning and following me on Pinterest with my unusual and interesting photos, and if you by chance find me using one of your photos to your praise or objection please let me know. If you have any questions to ask me, don’t be shy: use the form below or leave me a message after each post. Here’s another interesting question that someone asked me recently over dinner I’d thought I’d share with you so here I go:
 Watch it this video has strong language.
DEAR SERGEANT AL: Recently I went on vacation to Mexico and the police stopped and ticketed me for speeding. Right before I was stopped in my rental car I was lost, so I decided to circle around to retrace my steps. When the officer asked me in Spanish if I knew why I was being stopped by him, I said I didn’t know. When he told me he was stopping me for speeding I told him I wasn’t speeding, that in fact I couldn’t have been. I then tried to explain to the officer that the road where he said was the enforcement area had speed bumps that would have made speeding impossible. Even though I noticed several taxicabs flying past me during the enforcement period the cop says during which I was speeding, the officer told me my car or the car nearest to me was in fact speeding. He then started telling me I had a choice to either pay a fine right on the side of the road or take a ticket and appear in court later to pay a fine. I found out later that the fine in court is much lower than the one I paid on the side of the road. Did I give the officer a bribe without knowing it? Was I scammed? –SPEEDY GONZALEZ

DEAR SPEEDY GONZALEZ: Oh my goodness you were bamboozled. I wouldn’t say you were unknowingly bribing the officer in that it knowingly takes two to tango when it comes to soliciting, offering, and accepting a bribe, at least here in the United States, but this was probably a more clever way for the Mexican officer to get out of you exactly what he wanted without the fuss and muss of exacting a bribe. But that’s okay. You were on vacation in Mexico. You got out of this situation alive and well, and probably better for it though you may not realize it. When traveling abroad I think you have to factor things like this in when visiting exotic places to expect that mishaps, inconveniences, and outright crime or scams might occur, as such places are notorious for such circumstances, that every tourist should go on an exotic get-away with their eyes wide open. In spite of this I hope you had a good time. When traveling to foreign countries you have to be absolutely as careful as possible. But you also must remember that there is only so much you can do under these circumstances to be as careful as you can. I would have handled this situation a bit more differently, and I’ll explain how later below.
First of all you have to remember that wherever you are in the world, that is NOT the United States, that that part of the world is NOT America, even if it’s adjacent to it. On the other hand, we also have to remember that our way isn’t always the right way of doing things, so that we will respect other people’s culture to understand these differences are what make living on Earth unique, if not an adventure.  Just because you are an American does not give you elsewhere in the world the entire range of constitutional and civil rights you are guaranteed here in the States. Mexico is a classic example. Mexico is our neighbor, friend, and trading partner. As we all know Mexico lately has been a shooting gallery for the major drug cartels, they say up to 70,000 people have died over that last few recent years, but as I tell people, the problem there is not necessarily the cartels, as it is more with the police. 
It’s easy for me as an American to state the following that I love all parts of the world, but if the rest of the world wants to catch up with the same standard of living and quality of life as we have here in the West if not just America alone, then those parts of the world where crime runs rampant have to do something not just about their criminals, but also about their police. If Mexico wants to stop their problem with the cartels, they need to first take a look at what they are doing in establishing ethics and discipline with their police culture. A big part of the cartel problem is that they have corrupt officers (not all) minding the cartels. The bad Mexican police need to be weeded out. Corruption is a big problem in Latin America as it is with most underdeveloped and emerging nations that some countries are starting to see the correlation between corruption and quality of life to start doing something about it by cracking down on police corruption. 
Yes, a real dead person: From Cartel drug violence from Mexico.
SO, given these circumstances, what is a foreign tourist like you to do when stopped by foreign police for a traffic infraction or any matter? Here are six steps you need to consider when being stopped by police in a foreign country to walk away with your body and wallet at least relatively intact:
1.    Blend in. “When in Rome . . . “ Part of your problem is that you got lost, and in doing so you became a target in the worse way. Thank God it was the police doing the scam and not the criminals, as I think you might have fared worse: Circle once, shame on you, circle twice, shame on me . . . Next time if you get lost, act like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing ANYWAY, and for God’s sakes next time: DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE OR GIRLFRIEND, AND DO NOT ASK FOR DIRECTIONS RIGHT ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD FOR EVERYBODY TO SEE. If you must, do so discreetly as possible. Go get gas at a busy station whether you need some or not. Buy something inside casually then go ask. Pull into a crowded place and then go in to ask directions. This might also be a good time to introduce you to GPS technology, even in a foreign country; you do know that satellites do work elsewhere other than America even if you have to pay expensive digital rates on your phone to get a GPS signal . . .
2.   Hire a Sole Driver from the Host Country for Your Entire Trip. Yes I know this might be a more expensive proposition here in America, but remember you are hiring a driver in a foreign country, not here. You open yourself up to more scams if you take a different cab to anywhere you need to go, but by hiring a sole driver you stand a more reasonable chance of not being ripped off if you are generous with the gratuity to let him know you’ll take care of him to form mutual trust. By doing this you also may gain a guide to find out where the hot spots, bargains, and bad places are to head toward or steer clear from. Ask your travel agent or tour guide or front desk or concierge for tips for finding a good driver that can map your entire trip. Just make sure you pay your driver in increments over the course of the trip and not one lump sum.
3.   Be Careful with what You Rent: I know we all like to once in a while go up to that rental counter at the airport and grab the keys to that Cadillac or Lincoln, maybe even a Rolls Royce or a Bentley, especially when we are on vacation, but that may not be the right thing to do in a foreign country, especially in a developing or an emerging nation. Under such circumstances renting cheap and frugal might be the right way to go so that you don’t stand out. 
4.   Obey the Law: You know how the speed signs here in America say the limit is so much that everyone goes over the speed limit anyway for only a few to get caught? Well don’t do that in a foreign country, even if all the natives are doing it, and yes, actually drive a bit slower than the speed limit allows. Make sure you are going KPH verses MPH where applicable, and when the light turns yellow SLOW DOWN TO STOP instead of SPEEDING UP to fly by. But also don’t forget step one about blending in as well. 

5.    Don’t Argue with the Police: It’s one thing to do this here in America that even then I think it’s a VERY BAD IDEA, EVEN WORSE WHEN YOU DO IT IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY: NEVER NEVER EVER EVER ARGUE WITH A POLICE OFFICER DURING A CAR STOP. EVER. By having a traffic trial at the side of the road as a curbside lawyer with a foreign police officer, you are opening up the situation to make matters worse, if not dangerous. Even if the cop is acting like a prick, as I often say, if the officer is not going to mind his behavior to take control of the car stop, then someone else is going to have to, and that person has to be you for your sake. Calm down, don’t get upset, don’t argue or debate, be polite, and be nice. When asked “do you know why you are being stopped?” or “how fast you were going?” in any language, INCLUDING ENGLISH, your stock answer to the officer to appease the situation without admitting guilt should be: “Officer if I was stopped for speeding I apologize: I did not intend to put either of us in danger.” And leave it at that.
Strong language on this one too.
6.   When in Doubt, Take the Ticket Option: I can’t tell you for sure what might have been the best way for you to get out of this tricky situation, SPEEDY GONZALEZ, that it might have taken a coin toss to decide which was best, but if you follow this rule of thumb, the next time might be easier if you can negotiate yourself through any language barrier to determine what option you have: READ CAREFULLY: If you can pay a ticket without going to jail or posting bail BY MAIL /AND/OR taking it to court, as opposed to paying a fine on the side of the road, then take a ticket instead. The worse that might happen is that you’ll have to hire a lawyer to handle the ticket. If this was an attempt at a bribe or a scam, you neutralize the situation by taking the traffic stop to court. As in your case SPEEDY GONZALEZ the court fine was lower than the roadside ‘fine.” If you feel you have been wronged, then you will have a greater chance (however great that might be) at true justice in a courtroom as opposed to at the side of the road. By taking the ticket option you eliminate the officer from being a judge in any part of the equation. Taking a ticket may also buy you more time to assess the situation and determine later what to do if you’re not sure what to do right there and then. On the other hand, however expensive it might be, by paying the roadside “fine” you immediately resolve the issue to let the problem go away and not let it linger after the trip is over. The choice, depending on the circumstances, is yours . . . Oh, and by the way, make sure you have enough of the foreign cash on hand, just in case . . .
Regardless of where you are in the world, justice, like life, can be a complicated thing, including when we are on an exotic vacation and get stopped by the police. In many cases being smart for yourself verses being smart for the law might be the right way to go! I hope this incident doesn’t stop you from your next trip. Safe driving!

Humbly Yours,


CONFIDENTIAL TO WILLIAM: You were a big source of the questions I published here in this blog, so I dedicate this site to you. Wherever you are looking over us, I shall never forget your inspiration and help you’ve given me over the past three years. You delivered me to my promised land here in California; little did I know my job coming here was to deliver you to yours . . . Thank you for being more than a great friend, and I wish you happiness and peace on your journeys hereafter . . . 

Faithfully Yours,


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Taking photographs at off-limits tourist landmarks .
What happens during a high-speed hot police pursuit across state lines or into Mexico or Canada?
Why do the cops need a warrant to search my house but nothing to search my car?