The Dominican Republic

Driving

Like the U.S.A. and most of Europe the correct side of the road on which to drive in The Dominican Republic is the right. From many of the reports on driving in this country even that basic rule is not always obeyed. The passage on “driving” under the heading “By car” in the “wikitravel” site is interesting. The answers to the question “Is it safe to drive in the Dominican Republic?” given in the “Yahoo! 7 Answers” site may be dated but things may not have improved. Julie Folk’s piece on the “canada.com” site is also not encouraging for intending drivers. The “Virtual Tourist” site advises against any encounters with the Policia Nacional in traffic situations. Although, again, dated an item by Teunis Gaaelbhain on “Fodor’s Travel Intelligence site warns against driving, about the roads, the police and the observance of road rules by local drivers. A number of writers on the well respected “Lonely Planet” site advise an enquirer firmly against driving in The Dominican Republic. All of this would suggest that driving is not a good idea for newcomers or visitors to The Dominican Republic. Even travel by public transport or private hire vehicles may be unwise. Certainly use of the notorious Caritos Publicos or public shared taxis should be avoided. Official airline, hotel or tourist agency transfers are probably the only safe way to move to a destination. Local driving conditions in some of the smaller towns or resorts may be tolerable. This is possibly satisfactory for a short term tourist visit but not for anyone intending to settle on a permanent basis.

For fair balance it has to be said that to most of the comments made at the sites mentioned above there are also contrary views expressed. In the end it has to be a personal decision based upon experience that determines whether one wishes to drive in The Dominican Republic. Any situation which gives rise to the weight of adverse criticism given above is likely to have some basis in fact.

Driving Licenses

Given the previous comments it is for the sake of completeness that process of how to obtain a driving license in The Dominican Republic is given here. The details and costs of getting a driving license for residents and visitors are clearly stated in the “dr1.com” site. The “cedula”document mentioned there is simply the local identity document that provisional and full residents are given. Both a written and a practical road test must be passed to get a license. Visitors on a tourist card or visa can drive on their foreign license for a limited period. The distinction between those who have passed the test using a manual vehicle and those who pass using an automatic car should be noted. If this is a restriction on a foreign license it may well have to be respected by visitors hiring rental cars in the Republic.

The links given at the "Resources" tab on this site and the book "How to Retire in the Dominican Republic" by Les Johns provide full details on the subjects of driving and driving licenses in the Dominican Republic.