A point of interest if you plan on driving in the Dominican Republic. If you are a foreigner, you will often get pulled over and asked for money by the Dominican Police. This has happened to me a few times now, the most recent while my family was heading into Le Vega last Monday. As you head off the freeway, you turn down a road that heads into La Vega and in this case there were 4 Dominican Police stopping traffic, most people they just let go pass, apparently they are looking for something or someone.

In these cases, when they see someone that they think can pay, they pull you to the side and ask for money. While you could probably argue your way out of this, or play dumb and act like you don’t know what they are asking for, it is usually easier to just give them 50-100 pesos. Yep, that’s right, you bribe them into letting you go for $1.50-$3.00. I’m guessing that this wouldn’t work if you were actually speeding or doing something wrong, but when they are just asking for money without a reason, this will take care of the problem.

While you might feel inclined to be irritated at having to pay someone just to get passed, this is actually common in underdeveloped countries. The problem is that the police really don’t get paid very much and this is a way that they supplement their income. While it probably still isn’t right, a buck fifty to 3 dollars isn’t something to get too excited about.

I’ve been pulled over several times now both on my bike and in a car. They are always friendly, no threatening, usually they don’t even ask for a drivers licence or even try to tell you that you did something wrong. In this last case, he just mentioned how he was standing in the hot sun (actually under a overpass), protecting us and asked if we would like to give him something to help feed his family. And yes, they do ask for money from Dominicans too if they think the person might have some to spare.

Often it is good to already have a bill readily available if you see several police pulling people over. I usually don’t like to pull my wallet out in front of them. Have a 50 or 100 peso bill ready, don’t get upset, nervous or defensive, be friendly and willing to talk (Dominican Are talkative, he will likely ask where you are going, where you came from etc), stay in the car and make sure your hands are visible (on the steering wheel is best), hand him the bill when he asks, and be on your way. It’s part of the Dominican experience, you might as well enjoy it!