Magic number is 20 under nation’s new driver’s point system

A new system of points for wayward motorists went into effect Friday six months after the new traffic law went into effect. Now drivers can lose their license with 20 points instead of the 50 that was the rule under the previous version of the law.

However, there are fewer violations that cost points.

For example, driving 130 to 150 kph (74.4 mph to 93 mph) will cost a motorist six points when caught.

Failing to have a child 12-years-old or younger in a security seat will cost a motorist four points.

The stiffest penalties are levied in a category where the fine is 280,000 colons or about $568. These violations include driving drunk with a blood alcohol reading of from .5 to .75 grams of alcohol per liters of blood.

Also facing the fine are those driving with an expired license or passing on a curve or at a railroad grade crossing. Making a U-turn in a prohibited area also carries this maximum fine.

Professional drivers and new drivers face the same penalty with a lower level of alcohol,  .2 to .5 grams of alcohol per liter of blood.

In addition to failing to provide a special seat for a child, violations that cost four points are failing to have a vehicle inspection, carrying a child under 5 years on a motorcycle, going through a red light and driving with false license plates. The fine for these violations is 189,000 colons or about $393.

Lesser violations may cost a fine, ranging from 20,000 to 94,000 colons (from $40.50 to $190.50) but no points, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. The idea is to penalize with points only those violations that jeopardize life, said the ministry.

Anyone who accumulates 12 points loses the right to drive for a year under this system.  That could be two drunk driving arrests. Of course driving with more alcohol in the system still is a criminal offense.

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