Many people vacationing in Thailand are not aware of the traffic regulations. The most popular offenses among tourists include riding a motorcycle or scooter without a helmet and lacking the proper driver’s license. Many people do not realize that you must have an international driver’s license (IDP) to drive a scooter or motorcycle in Thailand or a Thai driver’s license. Additionally, scooter rental agencies can be fined for renting scooters to people without a valid driver’s license. Random police controls in Phuket are frequent, especially around the Patong, Karon, and Kata checkpoints.
The Checkpoints in Phuket: How to Behave
Checkpoints are regular police checks that are deployed at fixed locations. Checkpoints usually have several police officers. Keep calm during the controls and do not make any fuss. Thai police officers are usually friendly and forgiving, but they do not tolerate aggressive behavior.
If you are caught driving without an IDP, a ticket will be issued on the spot, and it must be paid in cash at the nearest police station. After paying the fine, you will have a 24-hour grace period, which means that you will not get a second ticket for driving without an IDP within the next 24 hours. Of course, this grace period does not apply to those caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For this offense, the penalty is 20,000 baht and the threat of imprisonment.
Checkpoints also happen at night. The police check the sobriety of drivers and can search you for drugs. Remember that the e-cigarettes popular in the West are illegal here and treated like a drug.
Speak Thai or Pretend You Cannot?
If you know even a few words in Thai, it can slightly affect the police officer’s decision and ease the punishment. Pretending that you do not understand a word in Thai or English and that you do not know why you’re getting a ticket does not work.
Driving a scooter is a very convenient and fast means of transport in Thailand. It is a pleasure and gives you the freedom to travel around the island without restrictions. However, to avoid unnecessary costs and stress during a run-in with the police, it is worth learning about local laws and regulations.