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Hello, Officer.

7 January, 2011

So far, we have rented a car in Morocco three separate times.

While being out and about in our rented car, we have been pulled over exactly four times.  I guess “pulled over” isn’t the most precise term, because our experience has always been that we are waved over, by police officers standing in the road, rather than being followed by officers in a car with their cherries lit up.

1 October 2010, new traffic laws went into effect in Morocco.  These new laws made it so that existing laws were to actually be enforced, which means that when we passed a vehicle in what was deemed to be a no-passing zone, even though there was no oncoming traffic and we had great visibility, we were waved over.

The fine?  700 D (about $87.50 US), in cash, payable then and there.

As anyone who has been pulled over in the US and/or has seen an episode of COPS knows, you should ask the officer before making any sudden moves, especially when it comes to exiting the vehicle.

I could not reach our papers from where I was sitting, so I asked if it was okay to exit the vehicle to get my papers.  The officer thought it was odd that I asked him about this but agreed.  I grabbed the papers from the other side of the car, and attempted to make the small talk with him while he looked over papers and ran them back to his partner in a vehicle across the street.

On his return, he stated that the fine would now be 300D, and continued to look over our papers.   I continued to make the small talk, and then to hand him the 300D.  Instead of taking the money, he told us to pay attention next time and that we could go.  No money changed hands, no tickets were written, and The Husband, Little Boy & I were all both relieved and amused by the situation.

Since that afternoon, we have been waved over three more times.  Each time, our only offense was that we were driving and possibly looked out of place.  In Morocco, it is commonplace for roadside checkpoints to be set up so that the police can keep an eye on who is coming or going.

Thankfully, each time we have been waved over, no one has been ticketed, arrested or been forced to pay off the officers.  Three out of the four encounters ended with smiles on peoples’ faces, and the other time, I think we just had an officer who did not want to be out in the cold, in the middle of the night, dealing with folks who speak Darija poorly and try to pass off super-official looking international drivers’ permits as something legit.  While they do have stamps on them, they may not be enough to convince everyone that we are able to drive, so its a good idea to carry another license as well.

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