Baja California Sur has begun to crack down on traffic offences. The latest welcome addition to the revenue source for the city is the heavy fine levied on those that park in the blue marked handicap zones without proper plates or stickers displayed.
To be very clear: Handicapped access permits issued in the US or Canada will not be honored as valid.
To obtain a Mexican Handicapped access permit in Mexico requires a form and an assessment by a doctor that is submitted to DIFF (The human services agency of Mexico) and you can be issued a special permit. You must also hold a Mexican Drivers License
Just prior to the end of the year the Transito Department of La Paz announced that they would begin aggressively enforcing the state and federal law with special officers. The fine in is $7000 pesos, and the city officials clearly stated there will be no early pay discounts applied to this infraction, nor will any pardon be given.
The first week of February the mid state city of Constitucion has announced that the will be "booting" cars found parked in specially designated parking spots.
In California I have known cases where the inconsiderate person managed to argue and wriggle their way out this infraction if the posted sign AND the space painting were not present. A little tip: "That dog don't hunt, in Baja." You'll end up with the ticket and maybe a little extra with that argument.
Driving Under the Influence: Fifteen years ago this was a joke. The adage was, "If you are too drunk to walk to the store for more beer, take the car." and they suspended check points because "they didn't want to ruin anyone's holiday." That has changed and today many holiday checkpoints are equipped with breathalyzers. If you are arrested for drunk driving it will cost you $3000 pesos in Baja Sur and $5000 to $7000 pesos if accident resulting, PLUS potential criminal charges for injury and no early pay discounts.
In the event of an accident: Call the police, the second call is to your insurance agent (Don't tell me you don't have one?) Your agent will often be your only advocate. He who does the 'hitting' in an accident is most commonly judged at fault, being a gringo without an advocate will OFTEN result in the accident being your fault. If the accident is severe in injury or property damage expect to be detained. In many cases also expect to be taken to the station for a Blood Alcohol test if a mobile test unit isn't available. BCS law states that those with foreign licenses will have their home state notified of DUI infractions, which could cost you a whole lot more on your home insurance later.
Do NOT let a Mexican licensed driver use your foreign plated car. This is not allowed, even with a note from your mommy. This not only gets you in hot water with Transito, but also Aduana for importation and can cost you weeks and up to one third the value of your car to get it back. This INCLUDES someone like me that no longer holds a US license, although I'm not as likely to be "detected" for it.
Other Traffic Violations of Note:
Let's start by busting another Gringo Rumor Bubble, your car must me legally registered and current where ever you are from. You can be sited for expired plates and licenses.
Talking or Texting on a cell phone while driving in either Baja California or Baja California Sur is an impressive infraction. I'm not certain, but I believe it to be $800 pesos.
Stop signs: Stopping for these red and white signs is a point of constant consternation, but in Baja Sur a rolling stop is OK. Pay attention to who arrives first and tie goes to the runner on the right. I would suggest taking MORE care if you insist on making full stops out of habit, and watch for being rear ended.
Drivers must stop in urban areas for pedestrians in crosswalks. This has been a big money maker in La Paz in the last few years, and besides, it is so hard to get all of the mess out of the grill work, so give them a break.
A minimum Mexican liability insurance policy is also required to drive on Federal Highways in both Baja California and Baja CaliforniaSur. This is usually an 'add-on ticket' when stopped for another offence or following an accident. We have always recommended you drive with liability insurance in Mexico. As a foreign national you must make restitution for your damages before you can leave the country, often before you can leave the scene of the accident. THIS is why Mexican liability insurance is important. You will end up in jail and your car impounded until the bill is paid. This becomes particularly critical if you wish to be airlifted to your home country for treatment. It won't happen until you pay the bill.
No one under the age of 16 may ride in the back of an open truck without seat and seatbelt.
Now here is a surprising one: Pets must be restrained in the back of an open vehicle and secured when riding within the vehicle. This is probably not a bad idea anyway, as in the event of an accident it save the coroner time in deciding which body parts were yours and which belonged to the airborne pet.
2016 Baja California Sur registration stickers are now available at the La Paz Transito offices. Enforcement of this year's stickers usually begins April 1.