Bad driving penalties already cost 2,190 a license

Here’s a report that will encourage expats to take a taxi or a bus.

Traffic officials report that 2,190 motorists already have lost their right to drive under the new point system.

Those who accumulate 50 points are grounded for two years, under the current traffic code. Some violations penalize a driver for the entire 50 points. These include driving a vehicle in which a child is not strapped into a special seat. That violation also draws a fine of 316,138 colons, about $634.

Motorists also can be hit with 50 points for driving a motorcycle with a child as a passenger if the tot is not wearing a helmet. Passing on a curve draws the same penalties, as does participating in drag races, planned or improvised.

Driving over 120 kph (74.4 mph) draws the same penalties. If the speed is 150 kph (93 mph) or more the penalty is 50 points, a 316,138 fine, the traffic police take the car and the driver is turned over to prosecutors.

Motorists caught driving under the influence with an alcohol content of from .5 to .74 grams per liter of blood suffer the loss of their car and the same fine. Those caught driving with 75 grams or more
in a liter of blood lose their vehicle and face prosecutors and possible jail time.

These were the warnings issued Tuesday by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. The ministry also reported that 35,456 drivers have accumulated between 10 and 19 points. 13,322 have accumulated between 20 and 29. 2,712 drivers have between 30 and 39, and 1,455 drivers have accumulated at least 40 points but not 50.

Those who have their license pulled because of excessive points also must undergo a reeducation course, according to the law.

Earning points is easy. Failing to wear a seat belt costs an adult driver 20 points. Multiple violations uncovered by police during one traffic stop can run the fine total up to $2,000 or more

The point system has been in effect since last March 1. The ministry said that 199 drivers on average lose their right to drive every month. Some have called the law draconian. Lawmakers have said they want to revise the measure passed by the previous Asamblea Legislativa. But the revisions are buried in committee.

The ministry credited the new law with reducing the highway death toll. Some 287 persons died on the highway in 2010. That was the lowest number since 2005, the ministry said.

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