San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Court strikes down high speeding fines

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) ruled Wednesday that high fines for drivers busted for excessive speeds are unconstitutional.

The Sala IV reduced the maximum fines of ₡275,000 ($540) to ₡5,000 ($10), the daily La Nación reported.
In a statement issued by the Sala IV announcing the 5-2 vote declaring the fines unconstitutional, the court said the steepness of the fines “violates the principal of proportionality.”

Before the reduction, Costa Rica’s traffic fines were some of the highest in the world – equivalent, at $540, to the average monthly income of most Ticos – and along with the country’s photo radar enforcement program have stoked the ire of many citizens.

The Sala IV’s decision came the same day the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) announced the deployment of 19 new photo-radar pistols in the areas near Palmares, a coffee town north of San José that hosts an annual festival known for its boozy atmosphere.  

The radar guns, according to a statement issued by MOPT, will include the date, time and location of infractions as well as snapping a picture of the offending vehicle and driver.

Traffic Police Director César Quirós said in the statement that the cameras will provide irrefutable visual proof of each infraction. This will be the first special deployment by Traffic Police in relation to monitoring speed and drunk driving in relation to the Palmares Festival, Quirós added.

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