Many government entities sharing in speed trap windfall

Traffic police spent the afternoon nailing violators of the downtown license plate prohibition. These officers were among those operating a license plate and speed checkpoint in front of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros headquarters. A.M. Costa Rica photo

A handful of government entities from the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia to Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. are sharing in the speed trap windfall.

The Ministerio de Obras Pública y Transportes released a list of who gets what Thursday. The Cruz Roja is getting 15 percent, as is RACSA, which runs the Internet feeds to the traffic cameras that catch speeders. Municipalities, the Poder Judicial and the Policía de Tránsito each get 10 percent. The Ministerio de Justicia gets 5 percent. Some 10 percent is kept to keep the cameras and their radar systems maintained. There are some lesser payouts.

The windfall is now an estimated 4.5 trillion colons, about $9 million if all the motorists caught speeding pay up.

The ministry said that 14,662 motorists were caught speeding more than 20 kph over the posted limits by the cameras.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad gets nearly 9 percent, which could mean 294 million colons or about $580,000 already for highway projects. The speeding fines begin at about $600 and can result in a higher fine and jail time for reckless operation.
The ministry might be jumping the gun. There most certainly will be court cases challenging the fines as disproportionate as well as the failure to inform motorists that they will be subject to a fine. The fine is keyed to the license plate number, so it is possible for someone else to speed and the car owner to get stuck with the ticket.

The ministry had created a Web page,, where motorists are supposed to be able to check their plate number against those that have been fined. However, rather than just having a list open to the public, the ministry is requiring users to obtain a PIN number via Radiográfica.

Many object to this paperwork and are awaiting publication of the list in a daily newspaper next week.

Meanwhile more cameras are going up. César Quirós Mora, director general of Tránsito, said that today cameras are going into service in Alajuela, bringing the total to 16. Many more are planned. Signs mark the approaches to the cameras.

Meanwhile traffic officers still are enforcing the license plate prohibition in the downtown area. Thursday vehicles with plate numbers ending in 7 or 8 were prohibited, and officers were on Avenida 7 as well as other points downtown handing out tickets.

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