There is no shortage of corrupt police offers in Costa Rica, thats for sure. Many police offers will target tourist strictly for a bribe, or because they have nothing better to do. I am being completely honest here. Police here tend to be a little more forgiving with their country men because they know most of them cant afford such tickets or cant afford to offer a bribe. Since tourists are the main target of the polices boredom, that leaves one to wonder what they can do about it.
One would think that if you were following the rules that the police would have no reason to bother you, not so in Costa Rica. Police will pull you over because they feel like it and then make up a crime you committed such as speeding or running a red light. (Something every Costa Rican does on a daily basis.) All you can really do when encountering the police is keep your fingers crossed. Other than dumb luck, there are a few things you can do to aid yourself in getting out of a ticket.
One of the easiest things to do to get out of a ticket is to play dumb. If you don’t speak Spanish then this should be as easy as pie. If you do speak Spanish, resist the urge to argue or talk back. In fact, use this to your advantage by understanding what the officer is saying and then respond with something completely off topic in English. If you are lucky, the police officer will get annoyed with you and just send you on your way.
Bribing a Transito Officer
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It is important to point out that the only offers you should try to bribe are the transit police. Remember that bribing police is illegal and should be done at your own risk. You should never try to bribe the actual police.
Many times when a transit police officer pulls you over they will be looking for easy money. They will most likely say that your fine for the crime committed is $50 to $100 and must be paid on the spot. This is of course not by the book, but the officer looking for a quick buck.
If this is the case, here is what you can do:
Tell the officer you are very sorry and that you would love to pay directly, but only have 10,000 Colones (US $20). This is usually enough to make the problem go away, but some officers are greedy.
If you decide to offer a bribe, be sure to be very discreet about it. If you are to direct or insulting, the officer will mostly take your money and then give you a ticket for offering a bribe to a police officer.