12 Ways You’ll Get Arrested in Mexico

Man wearing shorts
Man wearing shorts | © Air Images/Shutterstock

Northern England Writer

Everyone knows the obvious ways to get arrested when they’re abroad, although you wouldn’t know it by the number of tourists who end up incarcerated in a foreign land each year. From drug smuggling and public fighting to overstaying your visa, there are a plethora of activities of which you should patently steer clear. However, there are plenty of weird and lesser-known ways you can get arrested in Mexico. Here are the top twelve.

Drinking in the street

Does it happen? Sure. Is it legal? No. Many foreign visitors hail the liberal attitude to drinking in Mexico, erroneously believing that they can freely drink as much as they like in public without consequence. However, this is a belief that mainly stems from having visited heavily frequented tourist zones, where strolling down the street with a frosty Corona in hand will likely not even provoke the batting of an eyelid. Don’t be fooled though, this is not a crime that will go overlooked everywhere and the punishments can be hefty and arbitrary.

Public drinking can lead to arrests and fines

Sitting in the wrong seat on a bus

Naming your child Hermione, Batman or Pocahontas

If on the off-chance you were thinking about having a baby in the Mexican state of Sonora, you’d be faced with a list of illegal baby names. The government has prohibited numerous weird names (like Lady Di, Rolling Stone or Cesárea), that are deemed “derogatory, pejorative, discriminatory or lacking in meaning”. OK, so you won’t be arrested for it, but you’ll definitely get some funny looks if you try and use one of these banned baby names in Sonora.

Think again before naming your baby Batman in Sonora

Peeing in public

This is an offense that the Mexican authorities delight in fining and arresting people for, particularly foreigners who think they can get away with sneaky public urination instead of finding a toilet. Either hold it in or face the consequences.

Wearing shorts

If you’re a man in Mexico, it technically remains illegal to wear anything but trousers according to one antiquated law. It’s said that Mexico was trying to prove itself to be as modern as other nations and wanted to enforce that with a bizarre male dress code. It’s pretty (read: very) unlikely you’ll be arrested for it nowadays, but you are still technically a law breaker if you go bare-legged.

You might be sent packing if you’re a man wearing shorts in Mexico

Drinking in the 72 hours before an election

Whether you’re a citizen or not, able to vote in the election or not, drinking in the 72-hour period leading up to either a state or national Mexican election is banned. Along these lines, you’ll find it tough to get your hands on alcohol from corner shops during the Holy Week period too.

Taking your feet off the pedals of a bike

Another bizarre Mexican law that could technically (but probably not really) see you arrested is the one about removing your feet from your bike pedals. Yes, you read that right. Cyclists are not allowed to remove their feet from their bike pedals for fear they could lose control and crash. This was a law passed in the late 19th century after an accident between a coach and a cyclist and, unlike the shorts rule, it does sort of make sense.

Keep your feet firmly on the pedals in Mexico

Crashing an uninsured car

Car rental in Mexico is popular and convenient. However, you can also get yourself into some serious legal trouble if you fail to ensure you have all the right paperwork or get caught driving under the influence. For example, if you have an accident and can’t prove you’re covered with the right insurance, you’re likely to be arrested and the car will be impounded. Plus, if you were at all inebriated, your insurer will wash its hands of you. Not quite the holiday you were hoping for, we imagine.

Publicly kissing in Guanajuato

Despite being the city which is home to the famed Callejón del Beso (Kissing Alley), a law passed in 2009 prohibited kissing in public in Guanajuato…for a few days at least. One of Mexico’s most notoriously conservative states, this so-called anti-obscenity law (which also banned “vulgar” language, begging and buying from street sellers) was put in place by the then-mayor Eduardo Romero Hicks of the right-wing PAN party. Naturally, the law provoked outrage and protests and was frozen a few days later.

Guanajuato’s famous kissing alley

Messing up the National Anthem

Mexico is a patriotic nation and this is reflected in their overwhelming respect for the flag and the official National Anthem. In fact, there are several chapters of law dedicated to honoring and correctly performing the himno nacional mexicano, and playing it incorrectly could see you saddled with a fine, or the need to apologize to the country. Again, you won’t get arrested, but you might well get humiliated.

Taking pork scratchings across the border

There are several products not allowed across borders as souvenirs – think live (or dead) animals, plant products and illegal weapons and drugs – but there are also some stranger items banned by the US that people may want to bring from Mexico, namely pork products. These cannot, under any circumstance, be brought into the US, so leave your crispy chicharron on the south of the border if you don’t want to be thrown in airport jail.

Don’t smuggle pork products like chicharrón out of Mexico

Listening to narcocorridos in Chihuahua, Sinaloa or Coahuila

Narcocorridos are popular “drug ballads” which detail the explicit exploits of known drug dealers, runners and cartel heads and draw from the norteño genre. However, despite originating in the north of the country which is well-known for its illegal narcotic enterprise, narcocorridos were banned in public concerts a few years back in the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Coahuila after a shooting at a narcocorrido concert. This effort to stem “narco culture” was thwarted in 2016 though, when the law was overturned in Sinaloa.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
Edit article