San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

More than 200 fines on first day of new traffic law

More than 200 violations to the new traffic law were cited by traffic police on Friday, the first day of its implementation, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) informed.

The fines were mainly due to vehicles lacking a mandatory inspection and motorcyclists not wearing reflective clothing, according to a report issued by MOPT at 3 p.m.

The only fines that were not enforced were those involving motorists entering the center of the capital San José with the day’s excluded license plate numbers. The new law requires that specific sites where the restriction applies must be described in an executive decree.

Therefore, restrictions are likely to go back into effect next week after President Laura Chinchilla signs the decree.

The new traffic law published Friday in the official newspaper La Gaceta was approved by lawmakers in September and signed by Chinchilla on Oct. 4.

In September 2011, the Legislative Assembly voted on a first version of the bill, which included maximum fines of up to ₡468.780 ($920), but the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, struck down the law, saying the penalties were disproportionately high.

The main changes, therefore, are the reductions in the amount of fines.

Now the highest is ₡280,000 ($560) for those exceeding 120 kilometers per hour or driving under the influence of alcohol. The limit on blood-alcohol level was set at 0.60 grams per liter of blood.

In addition, there is a change in the points system, meaning the driver accumulates negative points instead of losing those assigned.

Fines issued by roadside cameras will be reinstalled in February 2013. In a first stage, the electronic system will be back on four national routes and on the Circunvalación, a belt route around the center of San José.

Contact L. Arias at

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