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My Meeting with the transito Jefe today (June 24, 2013)


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So after hearing a report of a Q and A session at LCS I dropped off a package of laws with the head of transito with sections highlighted to clarify and lessen the fears most people has after the LCS meeting. Last year I had made requests for written legal rulings from the state legal department so I included those.

This afternoon Alberto German Alvarez kindly received me and I clarified the following points with him:

1) Can foreigners legally drive with licenses from other countries

2) Are notary certified copies of immigration cards and car permits valid

3) Can you drive with expired NOB registration

As the law says that there is international recognition of licenses and state law mentions validity of out of state and foreign licenses, there was no issue, he did mention that it might be hard to verify out of country licenses but then I asked him iof he could verify licenses from Tlaxcala or Chiapas and he smiled and said no.

He then reviewed my written legal opinion from the state legal department as well as federal caselaw and said there was no problem with notary certified copies of car permits nor immigration documents.

I then went over with him the requirements per the law for driving a foreign vehicle and it only mentions that it needs to comply with federal import law, which is the temporary import permit and said permit can be obtained with expired registration.

He said he doesn´t speak English and the translator may have done a poor job in translating the finer points.

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Once again, dear Spencer, you have gone above and beyond the call of duty for your expat friends. I, for one, think (and know from personal experience) that you are a treasure and what would we do without your sound legal advice and scrounging around for the correct answers to our often ill founded opinions of the rule of law in this country. Having worked for many years for the top lawyers in the US, I appreciate what it takes to make your way through the quagmire of rules, regs and laws in this country.

It is not exactly "the wild west" as some would say, but things are not as clearly laid out as in the US and Canada and I appreciate your going the extra kilometers for all of us.

And also offering to take the two grandchildren visiting that one lady into Guadalajara -- that was very generous of someone with a business professional and personal life. You are to be commended on all fronts.

Dancing Queen

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Spencer--Thank you so much for verifying this information and for all that you do for people on this forum. I want to double check a few things to make sure that I understand what you are saying.

  1. I do NOT have to get a Jalisco driver’s license to drive here as long as I have a valid driver’s license from elsewhere.

You write, “As the law says that there is international recognition of licenses and state law mentions validity of out of state and foreign licenses, there was no issue . . “

Therefore Jalisco Traffic Department Chief Inspector Juan Pablo Serrano was mistaken in saying that foreign drivers and vehicles that remain in Jalisco longer than six month should . . . obtain local driver’s licenses. Am I understanding this correctly?

  1. I do NOT have to carry the originals of the Temporary Import Permit; I can carry a notary certified instead.

You write, “He then reviewed my written legal opinion from the state legal department as well as federal case law and said there was no problem with notary certified copies of car permits nor immigration documents.”

Therefore Serrano’s statement, as reported by the Guadalajara Reporter, that Jalisco traffic laws and regulations require that “only the originals are considered to be legally valid” is incorrect. This also applies to notary certified copies of our visas (FM3, FM2, Temporal, Residente, etc.) Am I understanding this correctly?

  1. My foreign plated car with valid TIP does NOT have to have passed a Jalisco pollution emission test.

You write: I then went over with him the requirements per the law for driving a foreign vehicle and it only mentions that it needs to comply with federal import law, which is the temporary import permit.”

Therefore because my vehicle is legally imported and has a TIP it is legal to drive here, even though it has not passed a Jalisco pollution emission test. Does this apply in this case or do I need to pass the Jalisco pollution emission test given that my car is primarily driven at Lake Chapala with a valid TIP?

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No Jalisco license needed if you have a valid foreign license. Also no carrying of originals, Yes your car must have an emissions test if you live here full time, the law mentioning the six months mentions vehicles, NOT PEOPLE so yes the car needs the smog test if it has been here more than 6 months but driver needs no Jalisco license.

I wish they would invite me to these events so I can spar with the big guys.

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No Jalisco license needed if you have a valid foreign license. Also no carrying of originals, Yes your car must have an emissions test if you live here full time, the law mentioning the six months mentions vehicles, NOT PEOPLE so yes the car needs the smog test if it has been here more than 6 months but driver needs no Jalisco license.

I wish they would invite me to these events so I can spare with the big guys.

So since my car stays here year-round, it needs a smog test. However, because I return to the US about every six months, I personally don't need to be tested. Right?

I do wish they had invited you and wonder why they didn't, especially given that the wife of one of the moderators of this forum was once of the two who put together this gathering at LCS. I would assume it's because they think the the government officials they have invited actually know what they are talking about, which appears to be a wrong assumption much of the time.

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No one can think of everything. I'll try to remember to remind them next time! Anyone else can do the same.

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My wife is a member of the Board of Directors. She was asked to help set things up. That is all. The decision was made to limit the meeting to members only. None of them were authorized to invite non members. If LCS invited one attorney working in this area, then they'd have to invite them all.

Personally speaking, I would have loved to have Spencer there.

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So since my car stays here year-round, it needs a smog test. However, because I return to the US about every six months, I personally don't need to be tested. Right?

I do wish they had invited you and wonder why they didn't, especially given that the wife of one of the moderators of this forum was once of the two who put together this gathering at LCS. I would assume it's because they think the the government officials they have invited actually know what they are talking about, which appears to be a wrong assumption much of the time.

Spencer says

so yes the car needs the smog test if it has been here more than 6 months but driver needs no Jalisco license.

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At the LCS meeting the jefe quoted a provision of the vehicle code dealing with valid, current registration, wherever the vehicle is licensed. There did not seem to be an exception for foreign-plated vehicles. He clearly said that a vehicle was subject to impound if it didn't have current registration, wherever it is licensed. Is he now saying that was incorrect?

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There are code sections dealing with foreign cars as well as Mexican cars, it is a shame nobody prodded him on what was the basis for his answers. I asked the local jefe to inform his subordinates about our conversation and to please call me if he had any questions and needed any clarification, also mentioned my credentials.

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Spencer, thank you so much for taking the time to clarify some of these issues for us.

At the meeting it was stated that if you drive a Mexican plated car you must have a Mexican

drivers license. We just bought a Mexican car because my wife is now permanente and

can no longer have a foreign plated car. However, at the moment I am here on a tourist visa

and I don't believe I can get a Mexican drivers license. Does this mean I can't legally drive our car even if my name is on the title. Thanks.

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Spencer says

so yes the car needs the smog test if it has been here more than 6 months but driver needs no Jalisco license.

I was being facetious asking if I needed to pass a smog test given that I leave the country about every 6 months. Sorry you didn't understand that.

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w saying that wasAt the LCS meeting the jefe quoted a provision of the vehicle code dealing with valid, current registration, wherever the vehicle is licensed. There did not seem to be an exception for foreign-plated vehicles. He clearly said that a vehicle was subject to impound if it didn't have current registration, wherever it is licensed. Is he not incorrect?

There are code sections dealing with foreign cars as well as Mexican cars, it is a shame nobody prodded him on what was the basis for his answers. I asked the local jefe to inform his subordinates about our conversation and to please call me if he had any questions and needed any clarification, also mentioned my credentials.He said he doesn´t speak English and the translator may have done a poor job in translating the finer points.

Assuming the conversation was in Spanish - why was translation to English lacking finer points??? Spencer can you please clarify What are the finer points re foreign & mexican cars sounds again like a question of interpretation

In reality the question has not been answered- due to finer points

we don't know if law applies to all vehicles or only Mexican Plated

if all cars foreign and mexican need to have vehicle emission test-one could assume all other laws apply to all vehicles as well - sounds like the commandante is applying all laws to all vehicles Foreign & Mexican and the cop on the street is listening to the Commandante

REally don't think they are going to call you- they don't have any questions= we are the still the ones with the questions

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Dangerous to make assumptions like this "if all cars foreign and mexican need to have vehicle emission test-one could assume all other laws apply to all vehicles as well"

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We attended the LCS meeting. I'm pretty good with Spanish, used it in corporate world with contracts, negotiating, client training, simultaneous translation, etc., as well as teaching. The translating at the meeting was more than acceptable, IMHO.

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My wife is a member of the Board of Directors. She was asked to help set things up. That is all. The decision was made to limit the meeting to members only. None of them were authorized to invite non members. If LCS invited one attorney working in this area, then they'd have to invite them all.

Personally speaking, I would have loved to have Spencer there.

I warned you in another thread not to believe what the ''commandante'' was saying. Either the translations were imperfect or the person who spoke at you meeting didn't know the pertinent laws.

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I too attended the meeting and was satisfied that the translations were clear. Most of the officials' answers were based on referring to the Jalisco drivers manual. Could the manual differ from the law? Remember this is Mexico, anything can happen?

As far as asking Spencer to attend relevant meetings, I would suggest to LCS that while I certainly understand their point of view and respect it, Spencer has made a special contribution to the expat community and should be invited to relevant meetings. In fact I would ask to allow me to bring him as my guest.

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