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Fines in Bali: what are fined and how to avoid

For those who come to Bali, especially for the first time, it seems that the rules of road behavior simply do not exist - the traffic is so chaotic. No one looks at signs and follows any logic: if an Indonesian needs to turn, he turns. No turn signals, no looking, no giving way. At best, you will hear a horn.

bali traffic
bali traffic

Balinese and Indonesians do not obey traffic rules, they follow “the code”. “The code” is a set of general courtesy rules that were adopted in the family, in the village and not formulated in writing. So it is useless and even dangerous to rely on international traffic rules when you travel to Bali until you begin to delve into “the code”.

Nevertheless, rules do exist and so do official fines, and violations can lead to punishment.

Here are the most important violations of traffic rules in Bali, for which there are fines in place:

  • Driving without an international driving license (for a motorbike you need an “A” category license, for a car - a “B” category);
  • Riding a bike without a helmet;
  • Having more than two people on the same bike;
  • Not using seat belts in the car;
  • Driving past the stop line at a traffic light.

So that you have an idea of what to expect, the official data below indicates the maximum penalties. If you go to court, you will most likely receive a much smaller fine.

Article 281
Do not have valid license

imprisonment for up to 4 months
or a fine of up to 1,000,000 rupees.

Article 288
(1) Without valid STNK / registration papers (STCK),

imprisonment for up to 2 months
or a fine of up to 500,000 rupees.

(3) Attachs Unofficial Vehicle Number Sign or no Vehicle Number Sign,

imprisonment for up to 2 months
or a fine of up to 500,000 rupees.

Article 289
Do not use safety belt,

imprisonment for up to 1 month
or a fine of up to 250,000 rupees.

Article 291
(1) Riding a motorcycle without a helmet,

imprisonment for up to 1 month
or a fine of up to 250,000 rupees.

(2) Riding with a passenger without a helmet,
imprisonment for up to 1 month
or a fine of up to 250,000 rupees.

Article 292
Motorcycle transportation for more than 1 (one) passenger,

imprisonment for up to 1 month
or a fine of up to 250,000 rupees.

Most likely, you are reading this article not for general knowledge, but because you want to avoid these penalties. Below we will explain how to do that.

How to avoid traffic fines in Bali?

There are several ways to avoid or minimize penalties for traffic violations in Bali. Let's begin with the most difficult one:

Do not break the rules!

Top 5 driving violations in Bali are: driving without a license, without a helmet, with more than one passenger on a motorbike, not using car seat belts, going over the traffic lights’ stop line.

Try to at least follow these simple rules.
Helmets are mandatory on motorbikes. Fasten your car seatbelts and fasten all passengers. Make sure you have an appropriate driving license.

Also, you will definitely need an international driving license to ride a motorbike.

A less complicated way is to turn on the “stupid tourist” mode

If you did not obey the rules, smile at the police, do not talk, even if you understand what you are told and can answer. Sincerely, preferably with gestures, apologize and promise no more conflict. You should smile kindly and warmly. Take your time, pretend that you have all the time in the world and are ready to talk with the police for another couple of hours. The main thing here is not to get in a conflict and stay positive.

The efficiency of this method depends solely on your communication skills, artistry and mood of the police officer you met. If the violation is not serious, then it is easier for the police to let you go without writing up a protocol and a bribe, than trying to explain to the fool tourist what they want from him and what is written on the paper, what to do, where to run, how to pay, etc. It is easier for them to catch a more “understanding” tourist. But the chances of that can be rather slim.

An even less complicated way is an official fine

As elsewhere, any violation is punishable by a fine and, in some instances, may even involve an arrest. Would you fancy a prison term of up to 4 months for driving without a license? Or up to a month for driving without a helmet? We think it would be an unforgettable Balinese adventure))

We will reassure you - most likely, no one will put you in jail, they will just issue you a fine.

As in the rest of the world, there are options: a blue piece of paper (a protocol) is called surat tilang biru - you admit your guilt and pay the fine in the nearest bank. Then you return to the policeman, give him the fine payment receipt, he returns you all your documents (registration and driving licence), and you leave.

The problem with the blue paper is you pay the maximum fine. You pleaded guilty, and therefore you have to pay a lot.

Another option is a pink piece of paper, surat tilang merah, which means that you did not agree with the violation, and the process will continue in court. The court will decide whether or not you are guilty, having examined your testimony, police testimony, examining the documents, etc. Even if the court (taking place 5-10 days after the offense) does not take your side, the fine will almost always be much less, or even several times less, than the maximum amount, if this is not a very strict violation.

By the way, many people do not go to court. They just pop in after the court to get the necessary papers, pay the fine, show the payment receipt and take their documents back. This is more difficult, but the amount to pay is much less.

Registration of fines in documents is similar to the rest of the world: vehicle identification, your personal data, date of violation, court date, сriminal article number and a fine amount.

The easiest way that we do not recommend (but we are all human): to bribe

We do not recommend to use this method, because both receiving and giving a bribe is a crime. But sometimes it is impossible to get out of a situation in a different way. The policeman takes your keys, drives your motorbike off to a specially prepared parking lot, but you urgently need to go somewhere and there is no time to figure it out. At the same time, the policeman gives hints that the issue can be quickly resolved with some cash.

A tourist is not a tourist if he was not deceived and someone did not profit at his expense. In Bali a bribe is a daily routine and the attitude to bribes is quite simple - they even called one of their presidents “Mr 10%”.

Usually you have to give a bribe if you understand that you are violating and do it often, for example, when driving without a license - they will catch you sooner or later.

Prepare a special purse or a cosmetic bag in advance, and put a small amount of money in it. There should be a hundred rupees (currently the standard most accepted amount of the bribe) and a bit more money, so that it looks like a real wallet. Do not show your other real wallet to a police officer.

If a policeman does not immediately agree to your amount, take your time, sit down, stay quiet. The main thing is not to get nervous. Do not scream or rush, as this may aggravate the situation.

Usually things are simple: they catch you on a violation, explain to you why you violated, then you offer or give all the money from a separate pocket and leave. Even locals sometimes do not have driving licenses, but no one is bothered by this and usually everything is decided amicably and in a mutually beneficial way. This is the local specificity.

As you can see, there are solutions to the problem and they are quite simple. However, we do not recommend to bring it to fines, let alone bribes. Instead it is much easier and calmer to relax, get positive emotions, and live in Bali without fear of punishment for violations. It is simply more comfortable to have all the necessary documents, follow the rules and be involved in the life of the island.

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