Traffic Police Checkpoints
The Thai police often set up road blocks to check vehicle documentation and check for drunk drivers. You should always carry your valid Driver’s License when you drive, and carrying a photocopy of your passport is also a good idea if you choose not to carry the real thing.
Checkpoints are run by the Highway police and local Traffic Police. As vehicles pass, they will motion for some drivers to pull over.
These may be at a
regular checkpoint with signs set out by the road, or it may be a single
patrol car parked on the side of the road with the officers standing
near the car motioning to traffic.
In some of the larger cities, they may have a motorcycle policeman assigned to enforce traffic laws and will stop a vehicle for a traffic violation; but it is rare to see a patrol car/pickup stop a moving vehicle for a traffic violation.
Checkpoints are run by the Highway police and local Traffic Police. As vehicles pass, they will motion for some drivers to pull over. These may be at a regular checkpoint with signs set out by the road, or it may be a single patrol car parked on the side of the road with the officers standing near the car motioning to traffic. In some of the larger cities, they may have a motorcycle policeman assigned to enforce traffic laws and will stop a vehicle for a traffic violation; but it is rare to see a patrol car/pickup stop a moving vehicle for a traffic violation.
Fines are levied for failing to produce valid documents such as driving license or not wearing a motorcycle helmet. Always be polite to Thai Police Officers, and sometimes you can “settle” fines on-the-spot which will save you journey to the local Police Station.
If you have an accident, it may not matter that the other driver has no driving license or was committing what would be considered a traffic violation. The driver at fault is usually considered the one that last had the opportunity to avoid the accident.
Click here for a Bangkok Post article on what to do in case of an accident.
Although you will hear from many Expats that the Thai police will always find fault with the foreigner in case of an accident with a Thai, you will also hear from many that have been involved in accidents that the police were fair and found fault with the Thai operator. The truth probably falls somewhere in between.
It is not uncommon for Thai drivers to flee the scene leaving their damaged vehicle when involved in an accident. In most cases, the police usually catch up to them. Also, leaving the scene of an accident, especially if the other driver is intoxicated, is also not unusual.
Our advice is if you are involved in an accident, remain at the scene. If minor, you may be able to negotiate a cash settlement if you know you are at fault. Otherwise, call the police to investigate the accident and call your insurance agency – they will usually send a representative to the scene and they usually arrive promptly if in a City or town.
In most cases, your insurance representative, the police, the other driver, and maybe the other driver’s insurance representative will often work out the “settlement” - which, surprising to some, may involve the Thai driver having to compensate the foreigner for damage.
Also, it can be beneficial if you have a Dash Cam to provide evidence Recent technology can also be really beneficial to backup your claim of non-liability. Dashboard and rear mounted cameras are especially good at providing evidence to support your claim.
In the case of serious injury or death, it is possible the police may take you into custody if they deem you were at fault. If you have first class insurance on your vehicle with bail bond coverage, the insurance company will provide the guarantee to the police or court so that you can be released during the time it takes to go through the Thai court system - which can be a lengthy period.
Be very careful about admitting fault in the event of a death or serious injury. You may be arrested and taken to the police station - a bewildering experience, especially with the language difficulties.
The Thai police may ask you to sign a document (written in Thai) and tell you that you can go after posting bail. We suggest that you not sign such a document unless you have a lawyer or another Thai that you trust read the document - often it is an admission of guilt.
In most cases, if you sign it, you live with it - A Thai court most likely will not care that you didn’t understand that what was on the document was an admission of guilt. You may spend a night or two in jail until you appear in court to arrange bail, but that is better than spending a few years in a Thai prison on the charge of negligence in driving causing injury or death.
Breakdown assistance service is available in Thailand.
Most new car dealers can include a “Breakdown Service”. Several insurance companies also have breakdown assistance service on offer.
You can also search for Roadside Assistance Thailand in an Internet Search engine to identify some companies that offer this assistance throughout Thailand.
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