We did not have a problem driving in the area and in the remote locations we visited, but this is something that our car rental agency warned us about when we got the car.
If you are stopped by the local police while driving and if they want to give you a ticket, don't pay for it on the spot. Just ask the police officer to write down the car plate number, rental car agency information and get a copy of the ticket. Once you are back in Puerto Vallarta, call you car rental agency and they will help you pay the ticket.
Corruption is big in Mexico and sometimes police officers are just trying to make a quick buck by issuing faked speeding tickets to tourists (you will notice that there is no difference between the plates of a car rental from the car plates of locals; this is done to protect tourists from abusive police officers). Don't fall for this!
Here is a funny story I just remembered exploring some of the other PV pages here on VT.
During my visit a friend of mine was dying to have a puff of pot. There were plenty of people around as well from British Columbia where they are famous for their hemp. They were no help to this situation wanting to find drugs as well.
In any event all week we would overhear these general overtones regarding where the hell is the pot to in Mexico?
In any event not to incriminate anyone but a vendor looking identical to the one in this picture, LOL was asked. Buddy these rings are nice but where is the pot here?
He was quick to nod and suggest he was your guy, I then got lost in the conversation regarding ounces, kilos, etc but however all the jargon ended up he could only deliver what amount to a garbage bag full in peanuts of Canadian money. The people that knew what this meant thought they were in heaven but some very alert spouses scolded them and asked what the hell are you going to do with a garbage bag full of that stuff!!!
I have to agree the spouses where right in this case, I wouldn't go there if I were you no matter how cheap it is. In Mexico you are guilty until proven innocent. Good luck getting a lawyer and proving yourself innocent there!!!
Now, being that I am one of them, please dont think that I am generalizing by saying that all gringo's are bad. I will however tell you about some of the doings by the local gringo's that live there.
Let me begin by saying that if they are not a tourist they will fall into the following catagories.
1. they sell time shares. After dealing with these people you will notice that it takes a very "special" person to do this type of work. Unfortunetly scamming and drugs are a few of the words used to describe them.
2. business owners: Although you will see business's come and go like the wind in Vallarta this percentage of people is the smallest out of all of the people that you will encounter that actually live there
3. people running from the law, As we recently saw the Max Factor heir pulled out of Vallarta, unfortunetly you will see a lot of these people there. There is actually an easy way of telling who they are.
a) they drove there and soon after sold there car
b) they have no real purpose being there other than hanging out.
4. scum bags: I cant tell you how many of them are living there just barely eeking out a living by begging or scamming tourists out of there money.
I am a gringo and lived there for a few years and can say that I had one yes as in the number of American friends who lived there (not including the buisness owners).
5. you will also see older American men with younger mexican boys. I dont even want to adress this subject, because I will get sick.
First Class Auto has an agency close to the Marina as well as a little booth in the Olas Altas area.
I used my credit card one time while in Vallarta and it was at First Class. Less than two days later fictitious charges started appearing in different areas of Mexico.
After a little research I found that First Class has been busted for this as well as having stolen cars that they were renting to customers.
DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT RENT FROM THEM!
Also, the little shops that you will see that rent cars are often renting cars for other agencies taking commisions on whatever they rent. Make sure that they are not getting your particular car from First Class.
Another place that was natorious for this was Chef Roger, since then however it has closed.
If you have not been to PV before, you might think about renting a car. Don't do it!!! One trip through town and you will be ready to stay off the pedals here for good. Not only do the cab drivers try to impress with their andretti-like driving, I met some friends that were encountered by a rental car company at the hotel. They rented a car for one evening and when they brought it back were greeted by the "rental agent" and two large men. They were told there were scratches all over the car and demanded $60 us. My friends told them they would offer $20 and that was all they needed to go away!!! Later found out that the rental company was not endorsed by the hotel whatsoever. Also, if you are in a wreck, it is considered a criminal offense here. There is a good possibility you will be detained for a fender-bender until all disputes are settled. Also, it is law that auto insurance must be bought from a mexican insurance company. It is not worth it to rent a car here.