San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Lawmakers continue watering down traffic law

Lawmakers voted this week to soften key points of Costa Rica´s tough Transit Law, which came back into effect this month after its implementation had been suspended by lawmakers.

On Monday, legislators voted 32-20 to approve a motion to raise the permitted drinking level among drivers from 0.5 to 0.75 percent blood-alcohol content. The amendment was advanced by the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN) and drew fire from opposition lawmakers from the Citizen Action Party (PAC) and the Libertarian Movement Party (ML). “The main objective of this law was to be more rigorous with drivers who had problems with alcohol consumption, but with this proposal, that is lost,” said PAC legislator Grettel Ortíz.

Among the motions voted on Tuesday, lawmakers green-lighted a move to lower some of the fines for traffic violations, which many Costa Ricans considered draconian for being set as high as $400 – as high as some citizens´ monthly salaries.

Legislators slashed fines for such violations as driving without license plates and passing cars on the right side instead of the left, from ¢ 99,756 (about $185) to ¢ 40,847 ($75), according to a Legislative Assembly bulletin. Other violations such as failure to show a driver´s license dropped from ¢ 41,076 ($76) to ¢ 20,538 ($38).

Lawmakers had presented more than 200 motions against the law and continued voting on them as of late afternoon Tuesday.

See the March 12 print or digital edition of The Tico Times for more on this story.

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