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Police Stop !!

April 11, 2013

After driving more than 5000 miles around Argentina we hadn’t been stopped by a single police checkpoint or had any problems with the police but we’d heard rumours that North of Buenos Aires we would likely encounter some problems with the police and unfortunately this was true.

At the border of Entre Rios State we were flagged down at a large checkpoint and the policeman asked for license, insurance and Import papers.

He disappeared off with these (this isn’t really unusual) and then a couple of minutes later told me to get out of the truck. He took me round to the back of the truck and then told me that it was illegal to not have a rear under-run bar in Argentina. I looked at him blankly and after a couple of minutes he told me to go into a building and talk to an officer there.

Once inside the desk officer first told me that my ‘copy’ licence was not acceptable and was an infraction (I have no idea if this is true or not but it sounded plausible). I produced my original licence and explained that copies had been acceptable in other South American countries and he begrudgingly accepted this.

He then told me I had two fines.  I asked him what for and after he explained I told him I didn’t understand. Usually not speaking Spanish is a great way to get out of any police hassle because they soon get bored and let you go. Not this time – he fired up his computer and opened up Google Translate!

His first problem was our lack of a rear under-run bar.  In the UK this is not required on vehicles registered as Motorhomes (which ours  is). I told him this and he insisted. I then explained that there is an international agreement on temporary import of motor vehicles which says that if a vehicle is legal in its home country then it is legal on a temporary basis in any signature country.  I don’t know how that all translated in Google but it certainly irritated him as he began to strike the keyboard quite hard.

A little annoyed he moved on to the second point. Apparently we had driven into the checkpoint too quickly and not “Respected the police”. I asked him how quickly you should drive through the checkpoint (on a dual carriageway) and he said 40km/h. I replied that was how fast we were going (although in truth I wasn’t sure). He then told me they had cameras proving I was speeding. So I asked him to show me the tape. Ah but only the boss can look at the tapes!  He insisted it was Argentinian law and he did not need to prove that we were speeding .

We went back and forth many times on the issue of disrespect, with him insisting that we had a fine worth 170 litres of fuel, though Google translated ‘Litros’ into Gallons which shocked us until we looked at the Spanish and realised what had happened (I assume to be paid in cash not siphoned off fuel, though it struck me as quite an odd fine).  Finally after 40 minutes of this debacle a senior officer arrived and asked us where we were going, he reeled off some quick fire Spanish at the officer we’d been dealing with and within seconds  we had our documents back and were sent on our way but if looks could kill Sarah and I would still be lying on the floor of that office!

This was the worst of 4 stops in total that day, through approximately 10 checkpoints but I’m pleased to say after that short interlude things returned to normal and we happily applied the ‘tourist wave’ that Biker Mike shared with us many months ago!

This was actually the first time that any police had stopped and tried to fine us since Peru !

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2013 4:40 pm

    Aw maaaaan! What wankers! They got me too.

    I got stopped for not having my headlights on…they weren’t but I have Daytime Running Lights and thought that would be enough (its enough for the Mercs and the BMWs and the Audis…). While we were stopped I did the same as you…show me the video! Meanwhile I showed the copper on the video screens all the (Argentinian) cars passing the checkpoint without headlights. Still no game. I got a fine on paper. I have contacted another overlander who said to me he received 3 (THREE!!!) paper fines but when he left the country he never got hassled to pay. Vamos a ver.

    The ONLY other person on the checkpoint was a French motorcyclist. Clearly it is a tourist trap.

    Be careful on the return journey. There is a checkpoint on the south-bound lanes SOUTH of the checkpoint that got you by a few kms. THEY were even more difficult to deal with…

    • April 17, 2013 1:18 pm

      Seems like this is a bugger of a checkpoint with loads of overlander’s getting stopped. Real shame as the cops in the rest of Argentina seem very cool.

  2. April 14, 2013 4:43 pm

    The thing about converting the fine into litres of fuel. They did that to me too and I found it so strange that I dismissed it immediately as my misinterpreting something.

    What the hell?

    Do you think they were willing to syphon fuel in lieu of paying (interesting way to access backsheech with out actually saying ‘payola’)?

    • April 17, 2013 1:18 pm

      I reckon they were going to use the cash equivalent as a starting point for negotiation.

      Looks like it might be well worth driving round on the B roads in this area !

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