Last updateFri, 02 Aug 2013 1pm

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Foreign-plated cars

Dear Sir,

Thank you – and your anonymous source – for the well-detailed story about the highway robbery by a contingent of Jalisco state police (although a police source in the story trashed the idea that they were real cops,I side with those who believe, from the details provided, that is who they were).

One detail that I wish would have been provided is whether the victims were driving a foreign-plated vehicle.
Given the accurate information in the previous issue of this newspaper, about the presentation by the Vialidad commandant to the special LCS meeting on traffic laws and vehicle legality, I am afraid more attention, both official and unofficial, is currently being given to foreign-plated vehicles than has heretofore been the case.

I know many expats are driving vehicles with U.S. and Canadian tags that expired long ago, sometimes as much as 15 years ago. As the commandant said, these vehicles are not legal in any country.

A friend of mine just recently was coerced in Chapala to paying a 700-peso mordida (bribe) to avoid having her expired-registration foreign-plated car summarily impounded at a cost of 1,500 pesos per day.

With last year’s change in the immigration laws that abolished FM2s and FM3s, the legal nexus between your temporary import sticker’s validity and your FM3’s validity is presumably broken. Moreover, we hear that vehicle importation laws are the next to be revised.

To my mind, all these straws in the wind put the legality of our expired foreign-plated vehicles and their owners into jeopardy.

Scenario: Suppose the underpaid ranks of the Policia Estatal de Jalisco also know this, and among them are some who resent foreign-plated vehicles’ owners who do not contribute to their meager salaries by means of annual vehicle registration fees?

Is it beyond feasibility that they could see foreign-plated vehicles as a magnet, a chance to “level the playing field” a little bit in their favor?

And while we’re at it, why restrict the discussion to the state police? Could there be some like-minded individuals within the ranks of the municipal police, the Vialidad, and the Federales?

When I remarked about the illegality of our foreign-plated vehicles with expired home-state registrations at the Lake Chapala Society Vialidad presentation, expressing my frustration over there being no way to get legal, the program’s host swiftly contradicted me: “Yes there is, buy a Mexican car!” He might have added that we could also Mexicanize our vehicles.

Ever since, I have felt more vulnerable driving our foreign-plated vehicles at Lakeside than I ever had before. We are Mexicanizing the one with an expired Arizona tag, and plan to follow suit when the other’s tag approaches expiration next February.

Jim Dickinson, Tlachichilco

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