What to do if you get stopped by the police

People here will give you different advice about the way to deal with the police. Mine is simple: be nice, but be firm, and try to assess the situation correctly.

The solitary cop

This is the worse situation, you get stopped by a policeman who is alone. There is no way of telling whether the control is official, and it’s even worse if you didn’t do anything wrong, because cops are supposed to stop you if they saw you commit an offence (except if it is a checkpoint, but that usually implies several policemen). Whatever happens will depend on your negociation skills. Don’t let yourself be too impressed, though.

The checkpoints

Along the roads you will find some checkpoints, especially during long week-ends or holidays… or at the end of the month. The police are mostly after drugs, so you don’t need to fear anything. Lower your window if they ask you to, show them your license and they let you go.

You didn’t wear a helmet

Well, just pay the 300 baht (or something) fine and don’t go into lengthy explanations. The law requires that you should wear a helmet, period.

Pay here or pay at the police station?

When you are given a fine, they can ask you to go and pay at the police station, and leave something as a guarantee. First time I ever got stopped and fined, they wanted my wife as a guarantee but I didn’t know the area and feared I wouldn’t be able to find the police station, so eventually I left my phone! These days you are usually ask to leave your driving license at the checkpoint. So you go pay the fine, you come back to the checkpoint with the receipt and you get your license back. In some cases you can ask to pay on the spot, but you can’t demand a receipt, if you get my drift.

Speak Thai or pretend you can’t?

If you can speak Thai, I found out it’s better to speak Thai with the police rather than pretend you can’t and expect that the cop will be embarrassed and give up.

5 Comments on “What to do if you get stopped by the police”

  1. I often or sometimes get stopped when driving on a motorbike in Thailand. Now it may be that time of year when the police are looking for bribes but today I drove to Silom and was stopped twice. I went through 3 so called road blocks and the biggest offense it appears is for motorbikes not to drive on the left. I have a license, helmet, road tax and insurance and a number plate so the only thing they can stop me for is some dubious offense. For instance if a truck is blocking your way, then you have no option but to pass him on your right. But if you are not in the far left lane, the police will stop you and say you have broken the law. They normally then bring out their fine book and their cheat sheet, showing you the fine of 500 Baht and this is their way of asking for a bribe If you say 100 Baht or they take your license away and you have to collect it at some far off shady police station, when they will insist you have to pay 500 Baht unless you get a Thai to negotiate it down for you. The first time I was stopped I paid 100 Baht and the second time I lost my license which I have to collect. Where is it in Thai the road rules because I am sick of being stopped and saying I broke the law when I clearly did not. If there is no other traffic on the road, I am happy to keep left but if I am passing a car or truck I have to pass on the right.
    Regards Marvin

    1. Am having the same problem again and again. Would be great if someone can support us on this matter. As far as i know it only says that slow traffic members have to drive on the left. Nowhere is it written that this rule belongs to motorcycles exclusively. Farang on big bike = money. Am sick of this too.

  2. Regarding the.”Speak Thai or pretend you can’t?”: I’ve made the exact opposite experience. Whenever I get stopped by the police (with or without a reason), I suddenly lose any ability to speak even though I do. I also don’t talk in English to them. I pretend to be the biggest idiot on earth. The officers usually draw an imaginary driving license into the air and I just at them in a confusing way and say “Sorry, I no understand”. After a while, they give up and let me go. So far, it worked in 90% of the cases.

  3. Got stopped yesterday by 8 Thai police at a checkpoint .. they demanded money and refused to issue a receipt. . I spoke to the bike shop and he said police are short of money so are stopping foreigners to menace money out of them. Just pay and accept they are corrupt

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