Apart from traffic offences such as speeding and driving without a seatbelt (mandatory for driver and front-seat passengers), the main area to watch out for is drug use and possession. Marijuana (bangi or ganja) is readily available in some areas and is frequently offered to tourists on the street in places like Zanzibar Island and Dar es Salaam, almost always as part of a set-up involving the police or fake police. If you’re caught, expect to pay a large bribe to avoid arrest or imprisonment.
In Dar es Salaam, the typical scam is that you’ll be approached by a couple of men who walk along with you, strike up a conversation and try to sell you drugs. Before you’ve had a chance to shake them loose, policemen (sometimes legitimate, sometimes not) suddenly appear and insist that you pay a huge fine for being involved in the purchase of illegal drugs. Protestations to the contrary are generally futile and there’s often little you can do other than instantly hightailing it in the opposite direction if you smell this scam coming. If you are caught, insist on going to the nearest police station before paying anything and whittle the bribe down as far as you can. Initial demands may be as high as US$300, but savvy travellers should be able to get away with under US$50.