HOLIDAY parties and carnivals can mix dangerously with the season’s shopping, parades and bike race, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) has concluded, leading transit police to step up efforts against drunk driving.
In Costa Rica, the fine for drunk driving is ¢20,000 ($41) and violators’ drivers’ licenses are suspended.
Transit police have 164 operatives against drunk driving planned for December throughout San José, particularly where heavy drinking may take place, as well as near beaches, according to director Juan Manuel Delgado. Transit police will also conduct 540 operatives over the next month to stop speeding drivers. Speeding tickets range from ¢5,000 ($10) to ¢26,000 ($53).
Speeding and drunk driving are the number-one and -two causes of death in car accidents, according to Delgado.
So far, 2005 has seen the fewest highway deaths since 1998, Minister of Public Works and Transport Randall Quirós announced last week. From January through November, 251 people died on Costa Rican highways, compared with 289 for the same period in 2004 and 365 for the same period in 2000. Quirós is confident the efforts made by transit police will result in 2005 recording the fewest highway deaths in recent history.
In addition to the special operatives, police will crack down on illegal daytime parking along Ave. Segunda and other city streets.
MOPT will spend an additional ¢47 million ($96,000) on the operatives – including 14 motorcycle police during the annual Bike Tour (Dec. 16-29) and 60 additional transit police in San José on 12 key days (such as the Festival de la Luz, Dec. 10; traditional horse parade, Dec. 26; and carnival, Dec. 27).