46 Reasons Not To Drive or Rent a Car in Puerto Rico

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Driving in Puerto Rico has always been hectic. Road conditions on the Island are in a deplorable state due to the depression (yes, the correct word is depression, because there’s no such thing as a 10-year recession) that has affected the U.S. territory for close to a decade. Throw in the way many Puerto Ricans drive like maniacs and it’s a real gamble to get behind the wheel and explore this tropical paradise.

You might be thinking: “why is the author of a blog like “Puerto Rico By GPS” telling us not to drive in Puerto Rico”? And maybe you’re right. Maybe I should just shut up and keep enticing tourists to explore every corner of Puerto Rico. But I’m not wired that way. I tell it like is.

You can decide to ignore the hundreds of potholes and even get used to the crazy driving style of the Puerto Ricans. But when the government tries to balance the budget on the backs of the people who decide to endure these unfortunate conditions that’s taking it too far.

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Fines have been increasing steadily due to the crazy way in which many Puerto Ricans drive. They ignore speed limits, run through traffic lights, cut you off at the last minute, change lanes without a turn signal, park wherever they please… it’s a nightmare! But the latest fine hike is just too much! It’s basically another tax on an already hurting citizenry. What’s worse, it’s a tax on you, the tourist who’s unaware of these laws and comes to our Island with fresh green dollars that help uplift our economy.

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Well, be aware because the Puerto Rican government is out to strip you of those hard earned greenbacks. Hell, many of the approved fines can cost you more than your plane ticket. So here’s a list of the latest fine rates just so you’ll know what you’re getting into:

  • Parking in a handicap space — $1,000.00
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked drivers permit — $300.00
  • Not yielding to an emergency vehicle — $100.00
  • Speeding (up to 99 mph) — $100 +$10 for every mile over the limit
  • Speeding (over 100 mph) — $1,000
  • Speeding in a school zone — $200 +$10 for every mile over the limit
  • Speeding in a road work area — $150 +$10 for every mile over the limit
  • Driving too slowly (20 mph under the speed limit) — $100
  • Driving too slowly (where two or more lanes are available) — $200
  • Inciting road racing — $3,000.00
  • Road racing — $5,000 + 6 month suspension of your drivers permit + vehicle confiscation
  • Reckless driving — $500 to $1,000
  • Driving on the road shoulder — $500 + 6 points
  • Parking on sidewalks, medians or green areas — $150
  • Parking in a cargo zone — $150
  • Obstructing a handicap ramp — $500
  • Obstructing traffic while waiting for others — $100.00
  • Passing a red light — $500 + 6 points
  • Stopping at a red light and then passing it — $300.00
  • Passing a yellow light — $300.00 + 6 points
  • Tinted windows — $100.00
  • Catching up to and passing a bus — $300.00 + 4 points
  • Riding a motorcycle with a passenger under 12 — $100.00
  • Riding a motorcycle without a fastened and DOT approved helmet — $100.00
  • Riding a motorcycle on the sidewalk — $500.00
  • Talking on a cell phone while driving — $100.00
  • Not using a safety belt — $100.00 per passenger
  • Carrying a child without a child seat — $400.00 + 6 points
  • Using a child seat not certified by the fire department — $100.00
  • Passenger under 12 in the front seat — $500.00
  • Driving without a copy of the vehicle registration — $100.00
  • Unreadable license plate — $100.00
  • Driving with an expired registration tag (marbete) — $500.00
  • Driving with a license plate belonging to another vehicle — $1,000.00
  • Altering a license plate — $100.00
  • Not transferring ownership of a sold vehicle before 30 days — $200.00
  • Not transferring ownership of a sold vehicle before 10 days — $100.00
  • Driving a vehicle with the wrong type of drivers permit — $200.00
  • Loaning a car to someone without a drivers permit — $200.00
  • Driving in reverse gear — $100.00 + 4 points
  • Not yielding to a blind person (with a cane or service dog) — $200 + 3 points
  • Not keeping the proper distance between vehicles — $100 + 3 points
  • Obstructing traffic at an intersection — $100.00
    (when the light changes and you’re stuck in the middle)
  • Parking a car with an expired registration tag (marbete) on a public road — $150.00
  • Not reducing your lights for oncoming vehicles — $50.00 + 2 points
    (high beams and LED light bars)
  • Driving with a defective bulb — $50.00
  • Move over (whatever that means) — $150.00

As you can see many of these fines are purely subjective and designed specifically to be hidden taxes. Additionally, many Puerto Ricans just can’t afford them, so many of them will just pile them up or even drive without a permit altogether. Furthermore, traffic fines are difficult —or even impossible— to enforce when the person lives in a different country or jurisdiction.

In any case, just be advised that the government of Puerto Rico just approved another measure that makes it less appealing to visit the Island. This, of course, unless the law just applies to local residents, which would be unconstitutional altogether, if I’m not mistaken.

So What Can You Do?

Well, you still have options. You can hire a driver to take you wherever you want to go. Those are hard to find, expensive and unreliable. You can also buy an excursion, which might not be what you would like but would probably be more to the government’s liking (hell, they don’t care about what you like anyway). Or you can stay in the San Juan Metroplex and the hell with all the smaller hotels, restaurants and beautiful attractions that abound throughout the island. That, my friend, is what the government would really love you to do.

©2017,Orlando Mergal, MA
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Bilingual Content Creator, Blogger, Podcaster,
Author, Photographer and New Media Expert
Tel. 787-750-0000, Mobile 787-306-1590

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on a link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

8 thoughts on “46 Reasons Not To Drive or Rent a Car in Puerto Rico”

  1. None of these sound unusual for Latin America. I have driven the entire island with not problem. I worked in Peru for 2 years and all of what you have written would apply there and more. You did not even mention not driving at night. I never had a problem.

    But I suppose that the typical cruise type tourist and over 60 American might not want to take the chance.
    But you miss so much when you just stay in San Juan. And I would never want to take a bus.

    1. Now that you mention it, there’s an increasing number of roads that have no lamp posts. This is because the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is also bankrupt and they have no money for repairs and maintenance. This is not my opinion. It’s a fact and all you have to do is drive around the Island to see it.

      I guess some of my readers will also try to shoot the messenger on this one.

      Maybe it just the kind of tourist that I am. When I go to a destination I usually rent a car and explore it at my leisure. I hate itineraries and excursions. I like to explore on my own. Hence, I write for people with that mindset. People visiting the Island on a cruise ship will never experience these difficulties because they only have a day to explore the Old City, maybe El Yunque National Forrest and if they really stretch it the Bacardi Rum Distillery.

      And guess what? They don’t drive to any of those places, so they won’t experience the potholes, the crazy drivers and the outrageous traffic fines. But for tourists like me (for whom the site is actually created) it’s survival of the fittest!

  2. DON’T GO TO FAR, MY DAUTHER IN LAW, THE WIFE OF A CAPTAIN IN THE US ARMY, STATION IN TEXAS, GOT A $300.00 FINE IN OKLAHOMA, WHILE DRIVING TO TEXAS, AND FINALLY SHE PAID $900.00, BECAUSE IT TOOK HER TWO WEEKS TO PAY IT. SO THERE NO DIFERENCE IN THE U.S.

    1. Idiocy has no boundaries. It has been proven repeatedly that increasing fines doesn’t reduce any given behavior. On the other hand, what it does do is scare away visitors. I just got back from a 42-day trip to the U.S. (visiting 12 National Parks on my own, no itineraries or excursions) and I paid $14 for a toll in Texas that only covered a 2-mile stretch. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll never go there again.

  3. Hey bud, thanks for hurting our tourism. Have you seen roads on other Carribbean Islands???
    You MUST be kidding. .I am visiting NY and the traffic, tickets and self absorbed drivers are far worse. And fines???? There are cameras at every intersection. In Rincon PR where I live we don’t even have a traffic light.

    1. If you took a minute to look at the rest of the site you would see that most of what I do is promote Puerto Rico FOR FREE!

      The ones hurting our tourism are our government officials. And let me tell you, they’re pretty good at that. They don’t need any help.

      What I don’t do is lie to my readers. I tell it like it is.

      Of course there are other places that are bad as well, but why do we have to compare ourselves with them? Why can’t we strive to be better?

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