In early 2017, Brittanny and I had road tripped through Baja and Mainland Mexico for 6 months. In that period, we were pulled over by the Mexican police 13 times and had to only pay 1 time because I had forgotten that there was some money still left in my wallet. Despite that mistake, I still consider this a wild success and because someone had asked us for some tips in dealing with the corrupted Mexican police, I figured I'd share what I had written him below. The tips aren't bullet proof as no tips can guarantee anything but I believe you'll have a higher chance of success like we had if you seriously take them into consideration. =)
Let's get straight to the point!
When they pull you over for no apparent reason, they would typically give you numerous faulty reasons why you gotta pay, and all you gotta do is to look em straight in the eyes and say with certainty and RESPECT that you’re not going to pay ANYTHING. “Sorry Sir, I’m not going to pay anything.” Because I had gotten so experienced, one officer even asked me, “So you don’t wanna pay anything?” After saying "nada," he just said, “okay, go.” Mind you, this was after about 5 minutes of saying no without any signs of hesitation. Remember to be respectful along the way.
I was pulled over in Arizona for an illegal u-turn the moment we crossed over into the USA after our 6-month road trip and was given a warning. Getting away with warnings here is also pretty easy but obviously requires a different approach!
If the conversation carries on, it’s good to say you don’t have any money whatsoever, not here and also not in the bank. They would try to take you to the ATM if you say that you don’t have any cash on you because it suggests to some that you may have money in the bank. The waiting game can some times take a while, even up to 20-30 minutes some times when they feel that you're easy to bully. If time is more important to you than the small bribe that they're willing to settle with, then I would suggest stashing 10-15 usd in your wallet and when you open it to prove to them that you have nothing like you had been saying all along, they’ll likely just settle with that amount. Obviously 10-15 is more than nothing but it's actually nothing relative to how much they're likely asking you to pay. For us, the common "morbida" was 200-300usd. If you do pay the 10-15 cash, it helps to just consider it a tourist tip as opposed to a lose. =)
Getting threatened to have your car impounded for a couple of days is a common move they'll pull on you which they reason will be costly in terms of time and money. On a few occasions, we would call their bluffs and asked to be taken to the police station. They pulled this threat on us about 4 times and we kept our cool and said, "no, you're not going to tow our car." Speaking only english helps too because people often get lazy to deal with language barriers so I would recommend doing so. Then once you keep saying that and they know how serious you are, they’ll eventually fold. Stay calm, take deep breaths and be prepared for the waiting game. The times where you lose your cool and look super scared is when they’ll sense that you’re breaking down and you know what happens when sharks smell blood or when bears smell fear, they’ll be more aggressive; this will be no different. Keep it cool and remind whoever that you’re going with to keep it cool too instead of everyone arguing when this is going down. Having everyone’s support helps a lot so have them prepared mentally for the waiting games and all the threats that may be thrown your way.
One last note is that if you had violated a law like speeding or running stop signs, it's entirely negotiable. I like this aspect a lot because in the states, we can’t negotiate. In Mexico, you can so it’ll be like $50 instead of $300-500 we would out of pocket without question in the USA. In this situation, you can say that you don't have much money which would lead them to ask, "how much do you have?"
To summarize, be prepared to be pulled over and mildly threatened as part of the experience. When prepared, it's easier to STAY CALM and remember to breathe deep to induce further calmness during your persistent and respectful NOs. Lastly, if time is of the essence, just leave 10-15usd in your wallet and pull that out saying that's all you got. Chances are that they'll take that and move on. At the end of the day, these guys are nice and are just doing their jobs to survive in this sometimes harsh reality. That said, remember to be kind despite having every reason not to be.