Car Rental in Cuba | Police and traffic violations

car rental in cuba

Police & Fines in Cuba

Car Rental in Cuba | 101 on Fines

When driving a Car Rental in Cuba there are several important things you should know about how the local police operate and how, if you drive badly (and sometimes not), they will apply fines and the impending payment of these.

Important note: The police in Cuba have no technical capability to apply fines in your absence. Therefore, remote radars, parking fines in absentee, seeding, dangerous driving (when you are not specifically stopped at that moment) or, any other type of traffic violation you may have committed using you Car Rental in Cuba but were not stopped, means you will not be fined. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Parking & fines
Unlike your home country, parking fines are very rare in Cuba especially to those using a Car Rental in Cuba. Basically, unless you mistakenly park directly in front of a military base, block the access to a government building or leave your vehicle in a place where it could cause an accident, you´re free to park just about anywhere. Cuban police do not possess tow trucks, clamps or any other method to immobilize your vehicle. So in this respect, you can leave your rent a car in the knowledge that at least the police will not take it.
Rolling traffic violations
These are the type of traffic violations where you are followed or seen by a patrol vehicle breaking the law and thus stopped. Again, this is very rare. Cuban police do not have special units to specifically target traffic violations of this type for those using Car Rental in Cuba. However, motorcycle police are the most likely to target drivers who commit flagrant violations while driving. Usually, the modus operandi is prevention rather than sanction and, if you are, for example, going the wrong way down a street looking lost, the police will simply advise you to turn around. The same applies to other “mistake” type infringements. However, erratic driving, speeding and general showing off is heavily frowned upon. Police use their radios rather than pursuit vehicles to apprehend you in these situations. They often use a crude manual override (yes the policeman will walk over to a box near the lights and trigger the red!) at traffic lights to stop an approaching vehicle.
See the explanation of paying Car Rental in Cuba fines if you are unfortunate enough to receive one.

Car Rental in Cuba | Expired Contract or wrong driver

If you are stopped and your contract has expired, even by a few hours, its game over. The police will simply impound the vehicle on the spot and call the rental agency to establish why you are still driving the car. No amount of explanations will suffice and unless its “ok” with the rental agency that you be allowed to go straight to their offices then, generally, you´ll go with a police escort. This may sound petty to some and a complete waste of police time but, this is what invariably will happen.
If someone is driving the car that is not shown on the contract when you are stopped you will be fined. Fines can range from 30 to 150 CUC, depending on various factors like age of the driver, if he/she was committing a crime when stopped, etc. Letting your Cuban friend drive a rental car is definitely a no no. It may be cool to let them drive a nice car but, the fine could be hefty and if he/she does not have a driving license or does not have it with them they could also be detained. If another foreigner is driving the car though, they will not be detained, only a fine will apply.
See the explanation of paying rent a car fines if you are unfortunate enough to receive one.
Car Rental in Cuba need not be complicated if you obey the traffic signs and speak nicely, smile and generally offer a good demeanour to the police.