Traffic Law Returned to Legislators

May 21, 2010

The task of revising the traffic law lands back in the hands of legislators after Costa Rica’s high court issued its ruling on the law Wednesday.

Judges from the Constitutional Branch of the Supreme Court, Sala IV, found no problem with the law, except for a phrase about traffic penalties that they called too open.

The judges said the phrase, “according to the circumstances,” in Article 133 of the bill, infringes on constitutional guarantees of due process in criminal matters by allowing judges too much leeway in imposing penalties.

The full article reads, “The respective judicial authority can increase the fines established in this law, according to the circumstances, by up to 100 percent of the corresponding amount.”

The traffic law has been debated in the Legislative Assembly for more than 15 months, as many legislators considered the fines in the original law too high. The law contains fines as high as $323 for talking on a cell phone while driving and $431 for operating a vehicle without a valid license.

Despite an intensive effort to revise the law after it went into effect, the previous 57-member Legislative Assembly left office without success.

At this point, any further effort to revise the traffic law must start from the beginning – in a legislative commission.

–Chrissie Long

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