New traffic reforms intend for harsher penalties

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Drivers must now abide by different regulations after the approval, in first vote, of a legislative reform that updates the current Ley de Tránsito.

The changes seek to make the law more efficient in regards to modern needs and behaviors on the road, according to the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

Some of the most important changes have to do with driving under the influence of alcohol. As of now, whoever outright refuses to take a breathalyzer test when stopped by a transit police officer will be charged $600 automatically.

A similar fine will be imposed on drivers who produce excessive noise, pollution or fumes. The same goes for those who drive with tinted windows that do not allow a 100 percent transparency.

In the case of consenting to the test, the driver may appeal the first result and request a second test. However, if the second test also comes up with the same result, an additional fine will be charged.

According to the law, the second test can be administered via a blood sample. In that case, the driver has the right to request it and be taken by police officers to the nearest hospital or clinic that’s available.

For those who drive without a license, or drive with a license that do not match the type of vehicle it was issued for, the fine has been updated to be at least $200.

That same amount applies to drivers who travel with an excess of passengers and those who allow passengers to sit outside the cabin or in the trunk.

The exception to this rule are properly-equipped trucks used in agricultural activities, maintenance of public services and emergencies.

A $100 fine will be charged to anyone who disrespects fixed vertical or horizontal traffic signs, as well as those not complying with a direct order from the transit authority.

The same amount should be paid by taxi drivers who pick up passengers in unauthorized areas or drop them off in dangerous areas, even if it is at the request of the passenger.

In the case of freights and cargo services transporting trees, wood, stone, sand or general debris, they should now have the items fully covered to avoid small particles hitting other cars or passersby.

The new reforms do not include yet any reference for shared transportations services such as Uber, but it does continue to punish illegal taxi services, locally known as Piratas.

These reforms also do not seemingly attack the root of the problem, which is not necessarily the traffic laws themselves, but the ways in which they are administered and enforced.

Laws are only as strong as the ability of the authority and enforcer to properly penalize those committing crimes.

Frequently, in the areas of traffic violations, expats can see that time and time again there is no enforcement of proper traffic laws.

Many have told staff members of A.M. Costa Rica just the wildness and danger of driving within the capital whether by car and especially by motorcycle.

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