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Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

Hampstead, New...
Level Contributor
112 posts
36 reviews
Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

My husband and I just returned from a vacation through Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. It was incredible and lived up to every expectation we had... less one experience. We rented a car in Punta del Este so that we could take a drive along the coast. On our way to Jose Ignacio we were waived off the road by a policeman. He asked for our car rental papers, which the agency we rented from had accidentally not given us. We gave him the business card from the rental place, the name of the owner as well as my husbands drivers license which he'd requested. He gave us back the business card, tucked the license in his pocket and told us we'd get it back once we paid "the ticket" the next day back in the city.

Since we were there for one day and leaving on a cruise ship that evening, there was no way we would be able to appear anywhere the next day. Now, we'd done nothing wrong, so "the ticket" was BS to begin with, but it became instantly apparent to me that we were being shaken down. Of course as soon as we asked if we could just pay him the amount of "the ticket," he said, "of course, just step over to my police van." He initially asked for $150US. My husband got him down to $100. He had a stack of licenses in the car which he'd taken from people who I guess wouldn't play the game. As we had other cars we needed to rent on our vacation, we were out of options.

We did report this to the car rental agency and I got a photo of the police van with his number on it. They called someone to report this, but I assume that's hopeless. I just wanted too share this with other tourists. My husband and I are well traveled and have been lucky enough to go through Asia, Africa, Central America and a lot of South America without an incident like this. Uruguay just screwed our record! The bottom line, don't hand over your license if you're not prepared to lose it, or carry a photocopy of it with you at all times.

Punta del Este...
5 posts
1. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este


I am sorry for what happened to you, but unfortunately in south America tha's the way it is... In the future with 20 bucks you will be on your way.

Puerto Varas, Chile
Level Contributor
475 posts
132 reviews
2. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

wow, that sucks

big time

i've gotten the shake down in Gualayachu (Argentina, land border for Uruguay), we were parked outside an ice cream parlor on a super hot summer day at "mad dogs and englishman" hour.

a well fed policeman came around, we though to comment nicely on something and be on his way

but no, we were "illegally parked"

that cost us 50 bucks and feeling absolutely had

New Jersey
Level Contributor
2,076 posts
57 reviews
3. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

Rig1977. Sorry to hear that happened to you. We were also stopped once and "paid the fine" at the van where the officer said his supervisor was. However in our case the stop was valid as we were passing over a double line.

When you say not to hand over your license, do you have a choice?

11 posts
4. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este


We are planning to visit to Uruguay in Nov. We were thinking of renting a car for our travel. We would like to stop along at small places along the coast. But reading this thread kind of makes me think twice about driving on our own. Is there a agency that has car( Cab) with local driver that can take us around or the duration of our visit.

Maybe be I should post it as a new topic?

Thanks for any comments.


Puerto Varas, Chile
Level Contributor
475 posts
132 reviews
5. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

Hi Karl,

I'm from Canada too, and I wouldn't keep from renting a car in Uruguay.

my experience was in Argentina (three or four times it's happened to me there) and never in Uruguay.

It's a whole different mindset they have.

this type of thing can happen in most countries in South America (Chile excepted) but I would say the chances are exceedingly slim in Uruguay,

and you can't go through life avoiding every possible chance of an uncomfortable situation.

Uruguay is full of places where we enjoyed stopping in our rented car and having the opportunity to walk the beaches, get something to eat and drink in off the beaten path spots,

and to generally explore freestyle.

Destination Expert
for Colonia del Sacramento
Level Contributor
520 posts
13 reviews
6. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

They didn´t have the rental papers in order. If you follow the rules and turn the lights on, use seat belt, etc. you probably won´t have any trouble.

11 posts
7. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

Thanks you for your comments and reassurance ):


Punta del Este...
Level Contributor
3,654 posts
16 reviews
8. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

I have lived in Uruguay 6-7months a year for the last six years, driving every day both in town and on the highways. I have never experienced, witnessed nor heard of any shakedown by the police, period. Uruguayans are honest people. Don't give it a second thought, rent the car. But remember two things: turn on your headlights during the daytime (technically required by law only on highways, not in town, but it's easier to just do it all the time), and fasten your seat belts. Failing to do either one will get you pulled over. Uruguayans are also law abiding and safety conscious.

Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires
Level Contributor
4,815 posts
62 reviews
9. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este

Gracias, Punta. The voice of reason, as always.


Buenos Aires...
Level Contributor
15 posts
97 reviews
10. Re: Shakedown from Police in Punta Del Este


I'm from Argentina and been in Uruguay many, many times and never had or heard this type of problems.

Don't worry, you can travel there and you will have great time also.

Remember to have your papers and car rental papers in order anyhow.

Nice trip!