What to do when you get pulled over by a cop in Thailand?

One of my Thai students posted this on his blog LOSTFARANG and I find it hilarious. At least this should serve as a precaution just in case you plan to get pull over in Thailand.

Lost Farang Busted by Cops!

by lostfarang on June 13, 2011

At the Police StationAt the Police Station

It wasn’t like I was trying to smuggle opium into Myanmar or anything.  If I had been, this would be a much more exotic story and I’d be writing from a Thai jail cell…with a squat toilet and free wifi of course.

Instead I was pulled over while driving my bike.  The charge: failure to wear a helmet.

Yeah, I know it’s pretty crazy, but despite my unlawful behavior the police officer was extremely kind.  Almost apologetic that he had to pull me over at all.  It was a friendly encounter.  However after some follow up discussion with friends on the issue, I handled this in entirely the wrong way.

It went down like this:

The officer asked me to present my driver’s license which I did (mistake #1).  Then he paused.  And paused some more (mistake #2, my missed cue).  Finally he asked me if I knew where the police station was which I said I didn’t.  He explained in half-Thai, half-English where it was.  I explained in half-Thai, half-English that I didn’t understand his directions.  We smiled at each other.

Paying the TicketPaying the Ticket

Then he went about the business of writing me up a ticket.  He confiscated my driver’s license and told me to go pay a 200 baht fine (approximately $7 USD) at the police station to get my license back. Later in the day I indeed made it down to the police station where the pictures in this post were taken. Sorry, but no crazed mug shots to share with you.

I do wonder where the money will actually end up. Will my donationsurreptitiously end up in the campaign coffers of one political party or another or will it go to the police party fund?  I don’t know.

Getting my NY State Driver's License BackGetting my NY State Driver’s License Back

Anyway, lessons learned:

  1. If asked for your license say you forgot it so it can’t be taken from you (remember the Thai phrase: mai pen rai).
  2. When a police officer pauses that is the cue to offer…say…a 100 baht gift (is 100 baht enough?) to the officer to help him pay for his whiskey and mistresses.

I think this is how it works.  🙂  As a farang I still have a lot to learn about Thai culture…ah the silly Lost Farang.


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