Driving in Mexico

Reference, by the Miami Herald, MEXICO Edition: Learning rules of driving in the capital, article dated April 7, 2007. The LATEST: Survey finds Miami worst road rage city, POSTED: 7:24 a.m. EDT, May 15, 2007

 If you are a new arrival, learn all-you-need to know on the issue of Driving in Mexico, by visiting Solutions Abroad's Getting Started Section, and open the Cars page (also remember if you are bringing your car to Mexico from another country you are required by law to have Mexican auto insurance - Click Here to get an instant quote and buy online). Separate from this issue, we have an article that deals only with Automobile Accidents. Below you will find a number of recommendations on how to drive with an enhanced sense of self-protection around the innumerable streets of D.F. Just imagine: we have more than 25,000 streets and 2,150 colonias in Mexico City, according to its official Site. We suggest that you become familiar with services provided by AMA, a corporation that specializes in a wide range of automotive services to support your needs, to include what I consider is the best Driving School in Mexico. Security Corner is a Community Service and for this reason, we recommend this organization. We do not receive any benefits other than your credit by suggesting this. Actually, there is a second choice: ANA.

Below please find pertinent recommendations, in Spanish, by the Secretariat of (SCT) Transport: Shortest distance between point A and B, cost of road toll booths. Federal Highway Patrol, now merged into the Federal Preventative Police has a special chapter on Crime Prevention for you, to include tips, select with mouse the issue of  your interest:

Crime Prevention, Safety on the Highway

Getting your Driver’s License

Before making a move, make sure you understand that the No Circula restriction to reduce air pollution applies to all cars, whether with Mexico City or foreign license plates. The only exception is diplomatic tags. If you violate this law, a fine in the amount of about $ 100 US will be imposed and your car will be confiscated. Make sure you do not drive between 5:00 am -10:00 pm.





Remember: you'll be allowed to drive ONLY between 5:00 am to 11:00 am until you get your permit. The violation to this strict regulation will prompt the police to CONFISCATE YOUR CAR and on top you'll be fined about $ 1,000 pesos. 

Restrictions, according to your license plates' last digit:

No Circula Sabatino

Click on above logo to access complete information on the NO CIRCULA for Saturdays effective starting on July 5, 2008 between 5:00 am to 22:00 hours

Monday  if your license tags' last digit is a 5 or 6.

Tuesday  7, 8 .

Wednesday  3 or 4.

Thursday  1 or 2.

Friday  - 9 or 0. Cars with license plates with letters only may not drive on Fridays. The same, those with temporary driving permits. Updated information by visiting this Site. Environmental conditions permitting, all cars circulate on weekends. Questions? Call 5658-1111 24-hour Locatel service.

In addition, your car twice a year must undergo mechanical testing to prevent polluting the environment, in accordance to the year, model. All details, here.  
Drive Defensively

You will be surprised that despite the incredibly large number of cars circulating 24-hours a day, though at nights the number is reduced dramatically, not that many serious accidents take place. Why? Most people drive here offensively. If you are not used to drive as most taxi or bus drivers do, always make sure you drive on the defensive. This means to allow other cars to have the right of way, driving courteously. Beware of your surroundings. Use ALL your mirrors constantly. Turning lights are used not to request a move but to actually warn the driver behind where you intend to go, when he/she lets you. Let fast cars approaching pass you. Do not remain in high speed lanes too long because faster cars than yours will try to pass via the other lanes, risking the chance of a collision. One thing that is quite common here is drivers TURNING ON their headlights to let you know they want to pass. Driving at night on any highway is NOT recommended as there are no physical barriers to stop animals or pedestrians from crossing. Speed limits are mostly ignored, though you should be aware of a new program with the use of potent radars and its positive impact in the community..

Speed Limits, Chase Cars, Basic Security Protection, Breath Analyzer

  • The Mexico City PD reflects the speed limit in streets, avenues is 70 kilometers or 43.7 miles and 80 kilometers or 50 miles an hour in speedways such as Periférico, Viaducto and Circuito Interior. By blocking car drivers that want to pass, you are creating an unnecessary risk to yourself.
  • Try to stay away from lanes meant for buses, peseras or taxis (normally the extreme right) or clearly marked on Ejes Viales.
  • Bodyguards following their principals, easily identifiable in the streets, are a threat to all. It is best to keep a safe distance from them.
  • During the rainy season, expect floods in most areas of the city. Have your brakes inspected periodically, make sure your tires have plenty of thread to prevent collisions, skidding. Wet streets pavement is highly slippery. Leave home prepared with your umbrella, raincoat and be patient in traffic jams.
  • To the extent possible, use longer routes through Viaducto, Periférico, avoiding traffic lights, especially at night.
  • While driving, ladies hide your purses, suitcases, valuables in the trunk or under the seats. Use your A/C. Keep windows, doors always locked. Park in well lit, public lots that have good security.
  • Know where you are going before putting your car in motion. Do not learn the hard way. Buy a Map.

Guia Roji

Guia Roji is the most common map available in most stores. Electronically, as well as in your favorite stationary supply store. Once you identify where your destination point is located, trace a route and study it before moving in. I must insist. Mexico City is a metropolis with some 22 million inhabitants that includes the State of Mexico adjacent area. One of the largest cities in the world. It is a good idea –if new to Mexico City- that before you get lost, try to ascertain where you want to go. Pre-establish routes from to home, office, school and become familiar with these. Learn alternate options in the event of demonstrations, accidents, street floods. Driving to, from the AIRPORT


Reportedly, the number of cars daily requiring parking in Mexico City is in the range of 1.5 million, daily. According to the Mexico City Mayor’s Office (SETRAVI), there are only 1,216 parking lots officially authorized to operate as of June 2006. A total of 13,600 parking will be in operation, including Polanco and the Pink Zone area. If you leave your car where city meters exist, make sure you deposit the coins required or your car wheels will be locked until you pay a stiff fine. You can pay such a fine online, make sure you have your ticket number. More parking meters are about to become operative in Polanco. Parking is not cheap: 15 pesos an hour in downtown. This is the law that governs parking in Mexico City.

This is the Official Site of Mexico City POLICE DEPARTMENT. With mouse select the issue of your utmost interest, in Section ENTERESE. Should you get a ticket, you have a 50 % discount if paid to the bank of your choice within 30 days. 

Your car towed away by Mexico City police tow truck?

Caught SPEEDING by police radars?

Franeleros or Viene, Viene!!

Parking problems in one of the largest cities in the world are proportional to its size. These have given birth to the Viene, Viene! occupation. More, here, thanks to El Universal newspaper. This is a growing problem, having to pay up to $ 100 pesos per car, according to this La Jornada article. In Puebla, franeleros are registered. ¿Visiting Guadalajara? And now the corporate STOP VALET PARKING In summary, it is of the utmost importance to know where you will park ahead of time.


Phone numbers ALL tested & functioning as of April 22, 2008 to request help in case of car accidents in Mexican federal highways, report a crime, file a complaint against corrupt police officers (all services only in Spanish):

088  - From any landline 
Switchboard no. 5484-0490 (select service desired) 
Cell phone (Telcel customers only) Dial *112
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Should anyone wish to present notarized documentary evidence involving a complaint, this must be sent or taken to, in Mexico City:
Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana
Secretaría de Seguridad Pública Federal
América 300- 1er.Piso
Colonia Pueblo Los Reyes
Delegación Coyoacán 04330 
Official Website: www.ssp.gob.mx
If for some reason visitors, automobile drivers have received a ticket for violation to federal traffic regulations need information:
Try 5841-4300 Ext. 242, 282 and ask for Lic. Ana Lidia Reyes. Business hours only Monday to Friday   

Automotive Mechanical Emergency in Mexico City

ALWAYS make sure your car is in excellent mechanical condition. In case of trouble, Mexico's AAA (or AMA locally) 24-hour emergency number is 5242.0262. ANA’s emergency number is 5488-6600 A reliable, trusted small family business -not a fancy place, operating on the street- is located at Manuel Ma. Contreras 71, Colonia San Rafael, not far from Tel-Mex building. For years they have assisted several diplomatic missions in their car problems. They specialize in automotive electricity. However, if they can assist you in other areas, they will. Arrange an appointment by calling them ahead of time. Ask for Pedro or Javier Castillo. Tels. 5546-9340 or 5535-6501.On the Highway, anywhere in Mexico? Use government updated Maps.

You can VIEW these online. However, if you want to purchase one, these are only available at the Mexican Secretariat of Communications. 


If in Mexico City, call 55) 5723 93 00 EXT. 28905. Their offices are located at  DIRECCIÓN: AV. EUGENIA 197 8° PISO COL. NARVARTE, DELEGACIÓN BENITO JUÁREZ C.P. 03020. Payment in the amount of  $ 163 pesos per copy of a National Road Map can be made in cash or credit card, in person.

The so called mini atlas costs $ 263 pesos (as of April 2008) 


The Road Map Book costs $ 753 pesos.


ALL other SCT Contacts in the Mexican Republic (other than Mexico City), HERE.

Thanks to Lt. Col. Gustavo del Valle y del Peral, one of our avid readers, this information containing most relevant parts about the new Mexico City & State of Mexico Traffic Regulations, to take effect on July 20, 2007 is provided. Most of it is common sense, however some lines are in technical language, a bit confusing. Should you volunteer editing, please be welcome to it by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

El Universal, Ciudad de México, Sunday 15/VII/2007

In reference to general norms of traffic flow. It is the largest chapter with 17 articles, 82 types of sanctions y 27 clauses. Documents the drivers' obligations (car anti-pollution tests, environment programs, parking), pedestrians' and bicyclists' rights (how to drive in their lanes of exclusivity).


Artícle 5. Drivers' Obligations

Fine in the amount of 252.85 pesos (five minimum daily wages) if drivers:

  • Disobey traffic signs or ignores instructions by traffic officers, support personnel.
  • Drive the wrong way.
  • Violate speed limits in primary routes (not to exceed 70 kilometers an hour where there are no speed limit signs) and on secondary routes (not to exceed 40 kilometers per hour).

Fine in the amount of $ 505.70 pesos (10 minimum daily wages) if:

    Cars are driven at speed faster than 20 kilometers an hour in school zones, pedestrians paths, areas in the vicinity of hospitals, retirement homes, orphanages.

Fine in the amount of  505.70 pesos and car confiscation (10 minimum daily wages) to Drivers if these:

    • Do not have a valid driver's license or no valid, current circulation permit.
    • Do not possess original driving permit (no copies are allowed).

Article 6. Drivers' Prohibitions

Fine in the amount of 252.85 pesos (five wages) to Drivers if these:

  • Drive cars on sidewalks, medians, walkers' paths, bicyclists' exclusive roads.
  • Stop car while tires invade crossings visibly marked for exclusive use by pedestrians on the street, the same at street corners.
  • Circulate in reverse more than 50 meters, unless it is impossible to go forward.
  • Transport a larger number of persons than what is authorized in their driving permit.
  • Use cellular phones or earphones while driving.
  • Block the free passing -flow- of military parades, school or civic demonstrations.

Fine in the amount of  505.70 pesos (10 minimum wages) if Drivers:

  • Allow passengers get in or out of vehicle in central traffic lanes.
  • Transport children under 12 years of age in the cars' front seats.
  • Transport persons in the rear of the cars body, such as on the fender.
  • Use or install speed limit radar detection systems.

Fine in the amount of  1011.40 pesos (20 minimum ages) if Drivers:

  • Make an "U" turn next to a curve or where signs prohibit it.
  • Insult, denigrate or offend traffic agents or support personnel.

Fine in the amount of 1011.40 pesos and car confiscation (20 minimum wages) if Drivers:

  • Circulate in counterflow lanes and lanes of exclusivity.
  • Circulate in lanes exclusive for passengers' public transport.

Article 7. Drivers must obey environmental programs and not  circulate cars that are restricted on the days, times indicated (see above).

Violation to  these rules will prompt a fine in the amount of $ 1011.40 pesos and car will be confiscated (20 minimum wages).

Article 8. Preference of Traffic at Crossings, Intersections

Fine in the amount of 252.85 pesos (five minimum wages) if Drivers:

  • Do not stop car when instructed by a traffic officer or voluntary security support officers at crossings.
  • Invade the “stop/alto” sign -marked on the ground- for exclusive use by pedestrians when the traffic light is in red.
  • Go across an intersection without stopping first when traffic lights are in an intermittent function
  • Do not allow access to a primary route.
  • Obstruct circulation & access to transversal streets
  • Disobey continued right turn without caution, this includes case when traffic light is in red.
  • Block cars access to circle, within a circular path
  • Do not make complete stop of car before a red light between the hours of 23:00 and 5:00 hours (am) the following day.
  • Do not allow preferential access by railroad, Metrobús and light train.
  • Do not allow preferential circulation by emergency cars with siren and strobe lights.

Article 9. About pedestrians and handicapped persons

Fine in the amount of 505.70 pesos (10 minimum wages) to drivers if these:

  • Disobey traffic lights giving preferential access to pedestrians.
  • Do not proceed to cross street when the traffic light indicates to circulate.
  • Drive when car is about to access another lane where pedestrians are on it.
  • Circulate on area where pedestrians are on it even though these do not have a restrictive boundary lane marked.
  • Do not allow acces by pedestrians who are on a sidewalk while car is entering or exiting a garage.
  • Attempt to disrupt organized demonstrations or school formations.

Article 10. Pedestrians' Obligations

Pedestrians will be verbally reprimanded if these:

  • Do not cross at corners and areas specifically marked for crossing.
  • Do not utilize pedestrian bridges or underground passes specially built for them.
  • Are not careful before crossing where there are no traffic lights.
  • Disobey instructions by traffic officers, their voluntary supporters and ignore traffic signs.

Article 11. Preferential Access to Bicyclists

Fine in the amount of 505.70 pesos (10 minimum wages) to Drivers who:

  • Make a right turn to enter another lane while cyclists are on it.
  • Drive on or cross a cyclists road -ciclopista- while these are on it.

Article 12. Cars' Parking

Drivers will be fined in the amount of 252.85 pesos and car confiscation (five minimum wages) if these:

  • Park on primary lanes, where signalization does not exist and/or leave car parked on single or double parking lines.
  • Obstruct visibility of traffic signs.
  • Park cars in areas reserved for temporary parking of transport, custody of valuables and on lanes exclusive for public transportation or areas destined for loading and unloading.
  • Park car on exit, access points (to/from garages), areas of traffic flow and loading, unloading passengers areas next to subway stations.
  • Park on sidewalks, medians, walker paths, U turn points, circles or areas reserved for pedestrians.
  • Park in front of banks, fire hydrants, entrance, departure points by ambulances and emergency vehicles, ramps for the handicapped, outside the boundary limits of a public parking space obstructing a second space, over, under a bridge, elevated public structure or in a tunnel.
  • Park in an area distant less than 5 meters from the entrance to a fire station and emergency vehicles and within a space of less than 25 meters in each side of the opposite corner across the entrance to this facility. Same applies in a space of less than 10 meters in any train crossing.

Article 13. Vehicles Parked in Restricted Spaces

Fine in the amount of 252.85 pesos and car will be immobilized for two hours if Drivers:

    Park car within spaces contained in parking meters which are equipped with a time measuring device and no payment has been made for this service. The vehicle will be immobilized until fines have been paid and has proven to have the right to have the immobilizer removed.

Article 14. Restrictions in the Streets

Fine in the amount of 252.85 pesos and confiscation of car (five minimum salaries) if Driver:

  • Engages in car repairs in the street, except in emergency cases.

Fine in the amount of 505.70 pesos (10 minimum wages) to Drivers who:

  • Place signs or any object that may affect traffic's visibility.
  • Dispose of, deposit or abandon objects or residues that may impede the free flow of traffic or the parking of cars.
  • Reserve spaces in the street without any official authorization.
  • Close or obstruct the traffic flow of cars by using grills, barricades or any other object.

Fine in the amount of 505.70 pesos and car confiscation (10 minimum wages) to drivers who:

  • Abandon cars in the street (leave cars parked for indefinite periods of time).

Those who engage or participate in car races in the street or arrancones will be arrested from 20  to 36 hours and their cars will be confiscated.

Article 15. Cars that break down on Primary Routes

Drivers will be fined with 252.85 pesos (five minimum wages) when their car breaks down while circulating on a primary route, not allowing traffic to flow freely and on top do not utilize warning emergency signs.

Article 16. Cars Equipment

Drivers will be fined with 252.85 pesos (five minimum wages) when these:

  • Forget to supply car with gas, provoking its lack of circulation.
  • Fail to have headlights with change to lower intensity, intermittent lights in case of emergency, lights that indicate car is in reverse shift, braking lights in the rear, lights that identify the car plates, amber color lights in front and red lights in the back.
  • Are found to have car tires that fail to provide proper safety, if car does not have a spare tire and drivers do not have necessary tools for change of tire.
  • Do not have two lateral mirrors incar and one inside for rear view.
  • Have both rear and front fenders missing.
  • Do not have safety belts in car.
  • Are found with car windshields not in optimum conditions allowing internal and external visibility.
  • Have GPS, Geolocator or similar device and this is missing.

Article 17. Car Documents Required 

Car owners will be fined with $ 1011.40 pesos and car confiscation (20 minimum wages) if:

  • Car lacks license plates or driving permit is expired.
  • Do not have permanent circulation decal.
  • Do not have pollution test current and approved hollogram (decal).

Article 18. Devices different to Car

If privately owned cars have devices adapted for trailer traction and the rotary mechanism surpasses the height of car fender drivers will be fined with 252.85 pesos (five minimum salaries).

Artícle 19. Installation of other Devices

Drivers who “decorate” cars with the following devices will be fined with 252.85 pesos (five minimum salaries):

  • Glaring lights that may place in risk the safety of other drivers, pedestrians.
  • Neon lights around the license plates.
  • Advertising not authorized.

A fine equal to 252.85 pesos and car confiscation (five minimum wages) to Drivers who:

  • Place logos identical or similar to those used by authorized public transportation vehicles in Mexico City and emergency vehicles or police cars.
  • Use devices similar to those useb by police cars and emergency vehicles.

The strongest sanction in this article is a fine in the amount of 505.70 pesos (10 minimum wages), to Drivers when:

  • A TV monitor or projection screen has been installed in the front part of any vehicle.
  • Car has polarized or darkened glasses or any device that obstructs visibility to the interior of car


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 ABOUT Security Corner: Legal Notice is found in Featured Articles page. This monthly column is the result of intensive research by Mr. Mario González-Román to serve as support to the International Community. We do not pursue commercial or political interests. If a product or service is mentioned is because we believe it is in your own benefit. In some cases, per our request, official information was received from the Mexican Government. Contributions include those coming from non-profit private organizations and individuals volunteering to the usefulness of the objective of each article. In others, information was acquired by navigating in the Internet, by personal interviews or other channels. In each case, credit is given to information sources. While this information is for public use, it would be appreciated that when you reproduce or share its contents, that you include the name of its author and a link to Security Corner. All suggestions are welcome. If we made a mistake, we’ll be happy to correct it. English is not my native language. Readers have been extremely useful in the past: Welcome to edit articles. THIS IS TRULY A JOINT COLLABORATIVE EFFORT. Thanks to your input, messages we are be able to determine what topics interest our audience the most. Mr. González-Román is a retired FSN employee from the Embassy of the United States of America, where he worked per prior consent by Mexican Congress as evidenced in Federal Official Diary no. 16, dated September 23, 1981. Please become familiar with his Biography.

Important Notice: Should you report a crime, neither Solutions Abroad nor myself are able to take any legal, otherwise official liability or become personally involved in any case. We only intend to serve as a possible bridge of communication between foreign visitors requiring assistance and the officers charged with responsibility to provide it. We reserve the right to publish only selected materials that meet our criteria of objectivity for the benefit of the community. Should you require professional and private advice, feel free to write to me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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