Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Get a Speeding Ticket in Doha

cameras placed strategically throughout Doha
photograph errant expat (and other) drivers in action
In America.  How to obtain a moving violation:  drive too fast.  Watch rearview mirror for black and white sedan with strobing red and white lights.  Pull to side of road, unroll window, wait.
Snap of door opening, closing.  Keys jangling, heels on pavement, rush of passing traffic, bitter exhaust.  Blue uniform with hat, belt and holstered weapon.  Hand on hip, officer bent at waist, stern face in window, smooth Old Spice cologne.
"License and registration, please."
Tattle tale lights flash.  Cars slow to pass.  Children point from back seats, laugh:  Speeder!
Pounding heart, tears.  The shame.
surreal, sardines-packed-in-a-can, Doha traffic
too many cars for personal attention between officers and rule breakers
In Qatar.  How to obtain a moving violation:  you have to look it up.
enter your Qatari id, license plate number, establishment ID
download the phone app to view others' violations while stuck in traffic
In Doha, yellow and white cameras situated at intersections and along highways weed through the crush of sedans, SUVs, trucks, semis, motorcycles to photograph plate numbers and assign violations, such as:
  • exceeding posted speed limit - 500 QR
  • not giving adequate signals as required - 200QR
  • driving a vehicle at abnormal low speed that may obstruct traffic movement without a good reason - 300QR
  • motorist does not abide by the automatic traffic signals (running a red light) - 6000QR
  • driving a vehicle in the wrong direction - 6000QR
Link: traffic offenses that can be settled by paying a fine.
Caught on Camera
Somewhere in Doha
Bob or Cindi (but probably Cindi):
November 9, 2013, 7:06 AM, Al Bidda (per website) or the Corniche (per agency):
"The motor vehicle's operator exceeds the maximum speed limit on the road"
There is no summons, notification, letter in the mail.  No flashing lights, jangling keys or holstered guns.  Nobody knocks on your door.  Errant behavior is recorded on the website and stays there until the fee is paid.  Whether you're a bad driver, in the wrong place at the wrong time or somewhere else altogether, it's possible to rack up violations and fees while living in blissful ignorance - working, shopping, taking the kids to school.
As long as you don't try to leave the country.
registered vehicle owners with unpaid violations
are stopped at the gate
Since the infraction is assigned to the car, it's the registered owner's responsibility to review the website for violations and pay fines.  This is a benefit to expats who lease a vehicle as the rental agency's name is attached to the car, not the driver's.  A service agent regularly checks the traffic website and emails request for payment.
"Kindly settle the attached traffic ticket..."
-email to Bob from Doha based car rental company, three weeks later
Suppose, like one of Bob's coworkers, you receive notification about a violation that ostensibly occurred on a day, place, time in which you and your car weren't present.  Nobody else drives your car.  You never speed.  There's too much traffic on that road at the stated time for anyone (except the young men in dish-dasha driving white Suburbans) to "exceed the posted limit."
It's Christmas and you have plans to travel.
You could request more information:
This is you, right?
Traffic Department's proof of Bob's car's violation (edited)
Hire a lawyer:
expensive and time consuming; still can't leave the country
Or just pay the toll - and go home (for the holidays).
Bob in Paris, 2013
good sport, good friend, good lookin'


Peggy said...

He's pretty cute! Nice way to end the blog. BTW we got a ticket on one of the Greek islands for parking in a no parking zone. We fully expected to be forced to deal with it by our car rental agency, or the government when we left--but there was no follow-up, and we didn't know how to handle it without opening a 'can of worms.' We haven't gone back to that island, and the ticket was a factor in choosing other locations.

sheri levy said...

Another fun story!! Stay safe and have a very Merry Christmas.

Charles W. Hedrick said...

You mean to say that they don't take away your license for excessive violations? So Qatari drivers who never left the country would never lose the privilege of driving? How does one lose one's license?

Lucinda H. Kennaley said...

There isn't a rule I know of that results in loss of a person's dl (like points on a license, for example). I do know if a person loses sponsorship (ie, employment) you can't be a resident anymore...and only residents can have a Qatari dl. And in countries where the government has more power than the people (America, are you listening?) it's possible to wake up one morning and learn you no longer have permission to drive...and all kinds of other things...for unclear reasons.

Lucinda H. Kennaley said...

@Peggy: pretty funny!! @Sheri: Thanks for the nice words! Thanks for commenting!!

Unknown said...

Sorry for the late reply...

1- Most people own cars.
2- We have a points system, licenses can be revoked temporarily or permanently.
3- You can't renew a car's registration (yearly) without settling the fines.
4- Most people get an SMS message when a fine is entered for any car they own.

Lucinda H. Kennaley said...

This is great information. Thanks, Osama!

Anonymous said...

You can leave the country on holiday. Just can't leave once you finish with your employer and settle everything.