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Getting a Chinese Drivers License

Getting a Chinese Drivers License

Old Sep 11, 19, 8:31 am
  #136  
 
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Originally Posted by JPDM View Post
You don't seem to understand. The owner of the car gets the ticket. They don't need to prove anything. The rules say that the owner get the ticket. Period. If the owner was not driving and decides to take the blame, their choice. It's not about snitching.
Well California is one of only two US states (the other being Arizona) that allow cameras to ticket drivers AND assess points. I've never gotten a RLC ticket in my life, but I know people who have. If they can identify you as the owner of the vehicle AND as the driver, you get the ticket. If they can't, you can snitch, in which case, the ticket gets given to the person you snitch on. If you refuse to tell them who's driving, and they can't prove who was via photographic evidence, then they have no way to ticket anyone.

You've got to think about this from a security engineer's perspective: how would someone be able to exploit the system if it was designed in a certain way? For example, if the ticket goes to the owner or to anyone the owner decides to "rat" on, without verification (photo evidence), then well, got an enemy? Someone else whose life you just want to make miserable? Run a few red lights while hiding your face (or do it at night), and when the tickets come in the mail, fill out the forms, and write on there "he/she (your enemy) did it". Congratulations, you've now forced your enemy to fight a ticket for a violation he/she didn't even commit because the government didn't positively verify identity. Perhaps the two of you were actually friends at the time the ticket was issued and had a "falling out" since then. Maybe you were really driving, but want to make your now enemy's life miserable. Or maybe you really did let your former friend/now enemy borrow the car, but now that you've had a falling out, he/she is lying and trying to pin the blame on you. Since each of you has motivation to lie about the other having been driving, but there is no conclusive proof, there's no way to tell exactly who is lying.

Last edited by STS-134; Sep 11, 19 at 9:55 am
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Old Sep 11, 19, 6:28 pm
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
You've got to think about this from a security engineer's perspective: how would someone be able to exploit the system if it was designed in a certain way? For example, if the ticket goes to the owner or to anyone the owner decides to "rat" on, without verification (photo evidence), then well, got an enemy?
You can't just "blame" someone, someone else has to take the blame for it. If you can't get anyone to do that then you're stuck with it as the owner of the car who let a bad driver drive. Actually, my understanding was that even the owner wouldn't automatically get the points, rather the owner would be unable to re-register the vehicle until all violations had been assigned/paid. I suppose if you had your enemy's ID and driver's license you could force them to take the blame for it, but then I'd think there's a lot of stuff you could do if you have their ID.
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Old Sep 11, 19, 6:47 pm
  #138  
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
You've got to think about this from a security engineer's perspective: how would someone be able to exploit the system if it was designed in a certain way? For example, if the ticket goes to the owner or to anyone the owner decides to "rat" on, without verification (photo evidence), then well, got an enemy? Someone else whose life you just want to make miserable? Run a few red lights while hiding your face (or do it at night), and when the tickets come in the mail, fill out the forms, and write on there "he/she (your enemy) did it".
You're clearly bothered by the way the system works, but it's not super complicated, the rules are clear, and it's not going to change because you dislike it.
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Old Sep 11, 19, 8:01 pm
  #139  
 
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
Well California is one of only two US states (the other being Arizona) that allow cameras to ticket drivers AND assess points. I've never gotten a RLC ticket in my life, but I know people who have. If they can identify you as the owner of the vehicle AND as the driver, you get the ticket. If they can't, you can snitch, in which case, the ticket gets given to the person you snitch on. If you refuse to tell them who's driving, and they can't prove who was via photographic evidence, then they have no way to ticket anyone.

You've got to think about this from a security engineer's perspective: how would someone be able to exploit the system if it was designed in a certain way? For example, if the ticket goes to the owner or to anyone the owner decides to "rat" on, without verification (photo evidence), then well, got an enemy? Someone else whose life you just want to make miserable? Run a few red lights while hiding your face (or do it at night), and when the tickets come in the mail, fill out the forms, and write on there "he/she (your enemy) did it". Congratulations, you've now forced your enemy to fight a ticket for a violation he/she didn't even commit because the government didn't positively verify identity. Perhaps the two of you were actually friends at the time the ticket was issued and had a "falling out" since then. Maybe you were really driving, but want to make your now enemy's life miserable. Or maybe you really did let your former friend/now enemy borrow the car, but now that you've had a falling out, he/she is lying and trying to pin the blame on you. Since each of you has motivation to lie about the other having been driving, but there is no conclusive proof, there's no way to tell exactly who is lying.
This is about China, not California. Here in Quebec we have the same process as China except when getting a ticket with a photo-radar, you do not lose points.
In any case, in China, they apply the Chinese laws, not the laws of California or Quebec.
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Old Sep 11, 19, 11:05 pm
  #140  
 
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
Well that would be a problem, if the vehicle owner doesn't immediately notify the driver, no? Especially if there's a malfunctioning camera in an area that the driver is circling around again and again.
It's in the vehicle owner's interest to quickly identify the driver as otherwise the vehicle owner would be liable to any late penalties. Also the insurance rate for the vehicle owner would go up regardless who committed the traffic offences.
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Old Sep 12, 19, 8:36 am
  #141  
 
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Originally Posted by WFBtheV View Post
You can't just "blame" someone, someone else has to take the blame for it. If you can't get anyone to do that then you're stuck with it as the owner of the car who let a bad driver drive. Actually, my understanding was that even the owner wouldn't automatically get the points, rather the owner would be unable to re-register the vehicle until all violations had been assigned/paid. I suppose if you had your enemy's ID and driver's license you could force them to take the blame for it, but then I'd think there's a lot of stuff you could do if you have their ID.
Now that makes sense if it's true. This makes it very similar to parking violations, which the vehicle owner is responsible for regardless of who parked the car illegally. In this case, the best strategy would be to never admit fault, and (if you own the car) pay the violation on the driver's behalf, then collect money from the person who drove it in cash. Or if you were driving the vehicle but it's owned by someone else, and they cannot identify the driver in the photo, pay the owner in cash (again so there's no record of the transaction) and then have the owner pay the fine while not admitting fault. Personally, I'd pay the owner for the fine AND buy him or her a nice dinner, since it's my understanding that paying the fine is a royal pain. It was apparently so inconvenient to pay a traffic fine in Beijing (cannot be done online) that my wife actually went to the office for her father to pay his fine so that he could go back to where he lives to go to work.

Originally Posted by moondog View Post
You're clearly bothered by the way the system works, but it's not super complicated, the rules are clear, and it's not going to change because you dislike it.
Bothered? Understanding exactly how the system works is key to keeping a clean record. Obviously not breaking the law when you drive is the first line of defense, but if you screw up or a camera malfunctions, understanding how it all works is the second line of defense - are there any procedural tactics you can use in your favor? Being able to put together a good argument in court is the third line of defense. Obviously, the goal should be to prevent anything from getting past that first line, but this isn't always possible in the real world.

The world keeps getting more connected. It used to be that violations in one US state didn't get reported in your home state. Now there's a thing called the driver license compact, where violations in one state which is a member of it are shared with the home state, if also a member. And some states like New York have agreements with Canadian provinces to share violation info. I expect that eventually, we may even see international agreements so keeping a clean record abroad will become key to keeping a clean record at home (and keeping your insurance rates down). And with all the talk recently about social credit scores, who knows how your driving record affects that, but it really is in everyone's best interest to keep his/her record clean.
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Last edited by STS-134; Sep 12, 19 at 8:57 am
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Old Sep 12, 19, 9:26 am
  #142  
 
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It seems STS is really keen to test the limits of the system. Please do report back once you've jumped a few red lights (which you seem to proactively prepare for in CA) when next in China in your FIL's car. I'm genuinely impressed by your willingness to spend so much time beating the system...you've done a brilliant job in the US. So I think that's no longer a challenge...and you're hankering for something to really test your mettle.

tb
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Old Sep 12, 19, 9:27 am
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And for China, at least, the international inter-connectedness is a red herring. As stated above, the DL is in Chinese name in characters only. So impossible to really trace back to ID printed in English..

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Old Sep 12, 19, 9:53 am
  #144  
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Originally Posted by trueblu View Post
And for China, at least, the international inter-connectedness is a red herring. As stated above, the DL is in Chinese name in characters only. So impossible to really trace back to ID printed in English..

tb
Based on my limited knowledge about the larger --ahem-- "project" that is in the works, I wouldn't take that bet.
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Old Sep 12, 19, 1:58 pm
  #145  
 
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Originally Posted by trueblu View Post
It seems STS is really keen to test the limits of the system. Please do report back once you've jumped a few red lights (which you seem to proactively prepare for in CA) when next in China in your FIL's car. I'm genuinely impressed by your willingness to spend so much time beating the system...you've done a brilliant job in the US. So I think that's no longer a challenge...and you're hankering for something to really test your mettle.

tb
I don't think you really understand. I don't try to get tickets, and my goal is to never get one. But if I do get one, I'm going to do everything I can to prevent it from going on my record. I'm certainly not going to drive around intentionally running red lights or speeding past cameras at 150% of posted speed limit just so I can fight tickets. And I'm usually extra careful abroad and out of my home state because I don't want to have to fly back to somewhere to go to court.

It's a good thing that I can read some basic Chinese and don't have trouble with the road signs in China, which are generally pretty good. But sometimes, you end up breaking the law, despite your best efforts. I was driving in Panama City a couple months ago and the signs were so bad, I was in the wrong lane and ended up going the wrong way down a ramp (as in, against traffic). I quickly threw the car in reverse and backed up, then went the proper direction. I could have been cited if a cop saw it but obviously I didn't do it intentionally, and I would have argued that the signage was extremely poor and I've got dashcam video to prove it. At least the signs in China aren't THAT bad.

Last edited by STS-134; Sep 12, 19 at 2:12 pm
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Old Sep 12, 19, 6:18 pm
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
and then have the owner pay the fine while not admitting fault.
How can you pay the fine without admitting fault? By paying the fine, and taking the points on your license, are you not "admitting fault"? At least in any sense that matters.
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Old Sep 12, 19, 7:04 pm
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Originally Posted by WFBtheV View Post
How can you pay the fine without admitting fault? By paying the fine, and taking the points on your license, are you not "admitting fault"? At least in any sense that matters.
Well if it's a parking ticket, you can pay the fine to get rid of the registration hold (DMV won't allow you to renew the vehicle registration if there's unpaid parking tickets) but doing so doesn't mean you are admitting guilt. Since they don't know who was driving, there are no points associated with a parking ticket, and there will be no record of it on your license. It is not an admission of guilt, it's more like satisfaction of debt. As the vehicle owner, you owe the debt, regardless of who is actually guilty of the offense, and thus, paying it is not an admission of guilt.

I've once gotten a ticket where I owed a debt, but that wasn't a result of something I did. A friend had borrowed my car while I was away, and parked it in a car sharing space at the University where I attended grad school (UCSD). Except she worked for the car sharing company AND her boss had given her permission to park there while she used the vehicle from the car sharing service (She was going somewhere far and didn't want to put a lot of miles on my car). She offered to pay me the money so that I could pay the ticket and be done with it, but I rejected her payment, and told her that the university wasn't going to see any of the money since she had permission to park there and the ticket was complete BS. I got all the documents including an affidavit from both my friend and her boss saying what happened, and sent in my appeal by mail to the agency that issued the ticket, and it was rejected. After this first rejection, I was required to put down the money, which I did, and I appealed again to the next level (administrative hearing) and it was rejected again. By this time, I had graduated and moved back to the Bay Area. The ordeal ended with me taking a day off work and flying back to San Diego to drag the University into court and the San Diego Superior Court Judge tossing the ticket. Those idiots had to not only pay me back the $35 but also had to reimburse me for the $25 court filing fee, and thus lost $25 in the process for being so biased when they processed my appeals. I "lost" much more in the process (airfare + car rental + one day's pay) but it was absolutely necessary to prevent someone else from making an unjust profit off of either me or my friend.

Anyway, I'm still unclear about which category a ticket with a clear picture of the license plate but without the people processing it being able to identify the driver falls into. In California and Arizona, it gets dismissed by default. Since these tickets count for points, they have to be able to identify the driver; otherwise, they cannot issue the ticket. Agencies or courts will sometimes ask the vehicle owner to tell them who was driving, and if you tell them, well, you're an idiot. In other states, it literally doesn't matter, since the owner always gets stuck with the bill, and they don't need to ID the driver because there are no points (only exception is if the vehicle was stolen or sold, in which case, there should be a police report or a title release filed with DMV). In China? Not sure. Is it possible that it varies by province or even by city? It's always possible that in such a case, the owner literally doesn't remember who was driving (perhaps he/she lent the car to multiple people that week, or a group of friends, or his/her spouse lent it to others, etc), but knows it wasn't him/her self.
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Old Sep 12, 19, 11:52 pm
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This thread has become a never ending circular argument about fighting traffic tickets in China using methods that may work in the USA. Ridiculous on the surface and no doubt an absolute failure in application. Anyone wanting to learn how to get a drivers license in China would have stopped reading long ago.
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Old Sep 13, 19, 2:53 pm
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Originally Posted by travelinmanS View Post
This thread has become a never ending circular argument about fighting traffic tickets in China using methods that may work in the USA. Ridiculous on the surface and no doubt an absolute failure in application. Anyone wanting to learn how to get a drivers license in China would have stopped reading long ago.
Well who here (other than myself, trueblu, and you) has actually gone through the whole process of getting a real (i.e. non provisional) license? I'm really surprised that so few people have done it, and that those who actually have lived in China either never got a ticket or never fought a ticket before. Of course if you're driving without the proper documentation, you're not going to fight a ticket because that would be admitting that you were driving illegally, so...

Anyway, here's a write-up on the process I followed to receive my license:

As some people may know, many countries do not accept foreign driver's licenses, but most countries accept international driving permits so that visitors can drive. Even most countries that don't fully recognize the IDP do accept them for short periods of time (i.e. Nepal, which recognizes them for 15 days) or Brazil (which recognizes them for 6 months). With a US license, it's possible to drive in Namibia, despite Namibia not recognizing IDPs, since US licenses are in English. This leaves only a few countries/regions where one cannot drive with either a US license or a US license + an IDP: Bermuda (visitors not allowed to drive), Gambia, Ethiopia, and China. International Driving Permit - Where Do You Need It? | April 2019

Last year, I got a provisional driving permit at the Beijing airport: China Temporary Driving License - China Provisional Driving Permit

There were some issues with this. First, it's technically only valid for driving rental cars, and I was technically breaking the law AFAIK by driving cars borrowed from individuals, and second, and more importantly, I found that car rental companies in China won't actually rent you a car if you have a provisional driving permit, which makes the thing rather useless.

But applying for a full license required multiple steps. The first thing is that it requires a visa valid for more than 90 days per entry. This rules out most tourist visas, which are only issued for 60 days, and most business visas as well, which are also only issued for at most 60-89 days. So the process started back in the US, where I went to the consulate and applied for a 10 year, multiple entry, Q2 (family reunion) visa, with an invitation letter from my wife's parents. This visa is typically issued for 91+ days per entry. I asked for at least 91 days and cited a desire to get a driver's license as the reason and got 120 days, which was good enough. It seems like it should be possible to get a 91+ day tourist visa however. If you ask your local consulate nicely and give them a reason why you need 91+ days, they'll probably accommodate your request (but keep in mind that they aren't required to do so and this is not a typical duration for a tourist visa!). I went the Q2 route because it seemed simpler and I was eligible for one, but if you do not have the proper connections, you won't be able to get one. I really have no idea why there is such a silly requirement that is tied to the visa validity duration but this is one of those situations where you just have to play the game.

The second step was going to the local police station and registering with them to get an address in China and, more importantly, a form called the "Registration Voucher of Residence for Visitors from Overseas". It looks like this:


Registration Form

Technically, you MUST do this for every night you stay in China if you are a foreigner. If you are staying at a hotel, the hotel will do the registration for you (but, they generally won't give you the slip of paper because most foreigners don't need it, so you'd have to ask them for it). However, if you want to get a driver's license, and you do not have a Chinese ID card (which only Chinese citizens can get) this piece of paper is a requirement.

Next step was going to the DMV to complete the paperwork for the license application:


DMV

I had to give them copies of my passport and visa, and the address registration form mentioned previously. After that, I had to have my US license translated into Chinese by an official translator, which cost around 100-150 RMB. Then I had to do a health check (visual acuity, colorblindness, and ability to kneel down and stand back up).

The final step, if you have a foreign license, is the 100 question written exam (the foreign license allows you to skip the behind the wheel test). This exam covers a wide variety of topics, with the 100 questions taken from about 1000 questions. You can take the test in a variety of languages, including in English. The exam was given by computer, in a room with many computers separated by partitions to prevent exam takers from seeing what the other people are doing (similar to the way a voting booth is setup). There are pieces of fabric hung over the front of each partition so you must have your head almost inside the partition to see the screens, with cameras on top of the monitors watching your eyes so the examiners can make sure you don't cheat. You are required to answer 90% or more of the questions correctly in order to pass; I passed with a score of 98% on my first try. To study for the test, I used this app called Laowaidrive Laowaidrive - Chinese Driving Test 2019 - Apps on Google Play available on Google Play; there is also an iOS version. The test focuses on a variety of questions, including: road signs, road markings, what you should do in various driving conditions (i.e. use engine braking when descending a steep slope in order to prevent the brakes from overheating, flash high beams to warn other vehicles when overtaking, etc), hand signals of the traffic police. In Henan Province at least, the exam is taken at a completely different location from the DMV. Henan Province also doesn't have a lot of foreigners taking the test. I would have had a lot of trouble communicating with the people at the DMV and at the exam site if my wife wasn't there going through the same process although she took the test in Chinese so she didn't have to deal with some of the amusing translations I did; I would imagine that in the large 1st tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen/Guangdong, you might have more luck with getting someone who can speak English.

After submitting the results of my exam that, I finally received what took so many steps to get, my very own Chinese driver's license:


Chinese License

The license can be renewed again and again, without taking the exam, as long as you do it before it expires. Since it's not an ID card, it can be made on the spot with a laminating machine, and you will receive it as soon as you turn the paperwork in that shows that you passed the exam.

Overall, I think the most informative questions I had to study were the ones about the signs and road markings and their meanings. Last year, I understood the simpler signs like speed limit, directional signs, no U-turn, etc. But I wouldn't have guessed that a white circular sign with red around the border means "do not enter". Also, some signs are only in Chinese, like "下一出口" (next exit). I would have recognized 出口 as "exit" last year, but I did not know that "下一" means "next".

Wikitravel has a page on driving in China if you're interested in getting a license to drive here. Driving in China - Wikitravel I would generally agree with most of their assessments except I don't think it takes very long to adapt. I didn't have any issues last year even when driving in larger cities such as Zhengzhou.

Last edited by STS-134; Sep 13, 19 at 3:05 pm
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Old Sep 14, 19, 4:55 am
  #150  
 
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I'd also add that if you have a motorcycle endorsement on your foreign license, you get the same endorsement on your Chinese license for free, no additional tests necessary.

I do have a question about the address on the license. I know one of the questions I memorized said I had to notify the DMV within 30 days of a change in address, but what does this mean exactly? I attempted to go to the DMV and do this but my Chinese is not good enough to understand more than them telling me I don't need a new license (even that I'm not 100% sure is what they said). Am I meant to have done something?
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