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.