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Costa Rica Driving Laws Amended…Again!

Jun 11

 costa-rica-driving-lawsA new law was signed yesterday by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias that will make big changes in the penalties on traffic violations. These traffic violations include drunk driving, speeding and driving without a valid license. Even forgetting to wear a seatbelt, holding a cell phone, or ignoring traffic lights carry a hefty fine.

On average, one person dies in a road accident in Costa Rica every day and so authorities hope that by bringing in this new law the accident statistics will be dramatically reduced. Oscar Arias commented on the laws stating “I know this law is harsh, but rather than get scared, we should thank law makers for passing it. We have let drivers get away with too much”.

With the new law in place, drunk drivers automatically lose their license for 2 years and could face imprisonment for up to 3 years. Cars driving over 150 mph will also face the same penalty. Other related laws restrict certain car modifications in an attempt to target the informal drag races that continue to go on in San Jose’s streets and have cost several lives.

This is a typical Costa Rican public relations legislation act. They create more severe penalty’s and heftier fines for already existing laws. The PR value here is “we are serious about making changes and this new modification is proof.” So the government makes changes so they do not seem ineffective, which they are, in enforcing existing laws. Rampant corruption with the Transit Police is common knowledge, and often tourists are the targets of these police officers who take advantage of uninformed vacationers. No changes in the law will make a difference until the government stops police corruption and mandates enforcement. The dog and pony show legislation has a very rich history in Costa Rica. You can visit and find many articles on this. One example, is the 2007 Domestic Violence Act which again created harsher penalties for already existing laws and even added crimes that made this law a violation of basic human rights. You can see here that the Sala IV got their head straight when they reversed two sections of this law stating it violated the constitutional rights of free people.

Apparently, this law will take effect in September 2009 as the Transit Police and Public Works needs time to explain to drivers that their illegal acts will become even more illegal. Can I say illegalier.

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6 Responses

  1. 1
    Eric Lee 

    Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

  2. 2

    Nice post
    very informative great..
    Keep it up…

  3. 3
    Doug Bowen 

    Nice to see they’re cracking down on drivers exceeding 150 mph. Should be a big help in reducing highway fatalities.

  4. 4

    Nice point Doug, this would reduce the how many deaths? Glad they didn’t try and tackle a number like a 120mph, they wouldn’t know what do with all of the cars let alone all of the extra beds needed for prison.

    I imagine they used physics here to establish the 150mph limit knowing that the circumference of the average tico radials is X which would then be divided by the maximum rpm of a souped up car then divided by the 5th gear torque ratio would result in a max speed of 132 mph. So I do not think many people will get picked up. Sadly 80mph does enough damage.

    Glad to see you here Doug on the blog and thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it!

  5. 5

    Very Nice Information
    Keep it up

  1. 6
    The 411 on 911 in Costa Rica (via Pingback)

    [...] DO NOT do drugs such as crack, ectasy(X), cocaine let alone the risk of buying such drugs, wear your seatbelts in any car or taxi, if the canopy tour seems laid back – most likely is their inspections of [...]

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