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Off to Driving School I Go...

There was a time in the past when ex-pats could pay an "expediter" to take their International Driving License to a friendly police station or "Driver's License Bureau", and usually within a day, they would be presented with a new Ecuadorean Driver's License.   Well folks, it appears that those days are now in the past...the expediter that we had counted on using told us that they are out of the business, because the rules have changed.

 

I figured that the new rules couldn't be that bad, so I trundled on down to the Driver's License place in our State of St Elena, and found that the new Anti-Corruption statues have come down squarely on the old "Ex-Pat Exchange".  The item that is the big stickler is your present International Driver's License.  Apparently it is easy to forge or alter the AAA License that we all get in the US before we set out on our trip.

 

Now...one must have the issuing Agency issue a duly translated guarantee that the license that you are trading in is "real", and that is not all...a Attorney here in Ecuador must then issue a letter that the license is "valid".  This doesn't sound like much, but it must be done through original docs--no faxes or email...

 

I was told that the US Embassy in Guayaquil would help out here, but they logically have backed out, because they have nothing to do with the creation of an International License, so they can not certify it.

 

The director of the driving school spent over an hour trying to get some of these rules waived, but to no avail.  I actually had the contact person in the US Embassy tell me that I ought to "just go to Driving School"  I sort of scoffed as I heard this idea, but as I thought over what it would take to have AAA in Grants Pass issue me a certification, get it translated, and probably get the translator certified (as we did for our Visas), the school idea seemed to make better sense.

 

The catch with Driving School, however, is that there is no "shortcut"...you have to sign up for the three week course--15 hours class, and 15 hours of driving instruction...so I did.

Here I am standing by my car...

 

Peugeot has a lock on this Driving school...all of the cars are Peugeots, and all the manuals and computerized instruction are put out by them in a coordinated package.  I must admit that i was a bit impressed and humbled as I realized that I must master 200 pages of Ecuador Driving Regulations and pass a written exam--all in Spanish, of course!

But...just to get to this stage, I had to get a certificate from the police that I had no record...and you can only get that by showing your ID card or Cedula, and to get that you must have a permanent Visa.

In addition, I had to have an eye test, and pass three reactions tests, two for eye-hand coordination, large and small, and one for gas to brake reaction time.  I did fine, and even got a thumbs up from the nice young lady administering the test...

 

Posted on Tue, September 15, 2009 at 02:59AM by Registered CommenterBob & Roxanne | Comments3 Comments

Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for the post. It is now for certain that owning a car is not in our future.

September 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Watson

Can you share any info of what happens if you have an accident in EC? I hear everyone gets arrested till they discover who is guilty.

November 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjames

Hi James...since I have never had an accident, I can't tell you anything about that from personal experience. I do know that the penalties for drunken driving, or for serious mayhem like injury or death that is your fault will result in jail time.
The statute has a sliding scale of penalties for infrafctions, just like other countries...jail is only one of them.
We always keep Grace and Nelson's business card with us, just in case we need to call a lawyer or interpreter to make our case, just in case of an emergency.
As in any country, a good lawyer will solve many problems.

November 28, 2009 | Registered CommenterBob & Roxanne

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