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If you are renting a car in Mexico, make sure you have the necessary insurance papers; if you don’t, you can be jailed and your car can be impounded until all claims have been settled.
Your Mexican auto insurance will also refute any claim if you have received a citation for drunk driving.
In Mexico, the legal drinking age is 18. Police in border towns and the large tourist spots of the Yucatán Peninsula, Pacific Coast and Baja California are clamping down on travelers who visit Mexico for the sole purpose of partying themselves into oblivion.
While Mexico doesn't prohibit traveling with liquor in a vehicle, it’s illegal to drink on the street; travelers can and will be fined, or jailed for public drunkenness.
In recent years, authorities have launched many campaigns that actively target drunk drivers. Breath-testing checkpoints can be found in large cities, such as Mexico City, and around the popular seaside locations. If you are found to be drunk behind the wheel, you will probably spend time in jail.
The government likes to keep the peace in the lead up to elections, state and federally. Known as ley seca (dry law), this means it’s prohibited to drink between 24 and 72 hours before voting, (regardless of whether you have the right to vote). Duration varies depending on which state you are in. Baja California, Jalisco and Queretaro are the exceptions where ley seca doesn't apply. In some states, alcohol can still be served in a restaurant with meals, or only during daylight hours.
Contrary to popular belief, things aren't that loose in Mexico when it comes to drugs. To find out how to stay within the law and avoid drug violence, read our article.
Discrimination against the LGBTQ community is illegal in Mexico. However, LGBTQ travelers should remain discreet and respectful of the local culture as Mexico is still a largely conservative country. To find out more, check out our article from our LGBTQ expert, Ed Salvato.
If you hire a car, do yourself a favor and avoid speeding, running a red light, using a cell phone or any other traffic offense or the local police will pull you over and give you a ticket. Always remain calm and respectful. If you are given a fine, ask the officer to take you to the local police station to pay for it legally. However, you may be asked for a mordida.
It's a bribe. Despite being illegal, and the efforts of government officials trying to stamp out the practice, some police try to solicit a bribe, as a form of intimidation, particularly from travelers.
If you do find yourself on the end of mordida request, don't pay it. Politely and firmly decline the request and ask to be taken to the local police station so you can fill out the paperwork and process the fine legally. If the officer keeps insisting, then ask to go to the station to speak to their boss, the police chief. Usually, that will end the interaction and they will go away.
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Find out where the drug-related crime hotspots are in Mexico, learn about the drug laws, and what you need to know about traveling with medications.