San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

No more mandatory email registration for drivers, Constitutional Chamber rules

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, this week ruled unconstitutional several articles of Costa Rica’s Traffic Law that obligate motorists to register an email address in order to receive notifications of fines and other information from the Roadway Safety Council (COSEVI).

The agency uses email to inform motorists about expired driver’s licenses, license point penalties, traffic fines, appeal statuses for tickets, and other information, COSEVI’s Legal Department Director Carlos Rivas Fernández said.

“The main objective of registering an email address was to have an expedited way to keep drivers informed about reports or warnings concerning the Traffic Law. Now we’ll have to use traditional ways to do it,” Rivas said.

COSEVI is still waiting for the court’s full ruling in order to evaluate whether they can keep using some 100,000 emails addresses currently registered.

As a first step, COSEVI already has ordered the allocation of funds from their budget to place publications in newspapers. In coming days they will publish a list of all license plates of vehicles that were fined after the Sala IV’s resolution.

The lists first will be published in the official government newspaper La Gaceta. According to Costa Rican law, that is considered “official notification.” Drivers then will have 10 days after the publication to file an appeal. “The agency then may proceed with all legal steps for collection,” Rivas said.

Sala IV’s ruling resolved a legal complaint filed by the Ombudsman’s Office that challenged the constitutionality of the term “mandatory” contained in various sections of the country’s Traffic Law, approved in 2012.

Several citizens had complained to the Ombudsman’s Office arguing that it is unfair to force motorists to disclose their email addresses. They also argued that not everyone has Internet access, Rivas said.

“We will have problems notifying drivers who were fined while driving a vehicle registered under another person’s name,” Rivas noted. “In addition to the publication of messages in La Gaceta or other national newspapers, we’ll have to personally find these drivers.”

Unpaid fines will appear as part of vehicle owners’ yearly fee for mandatory auto insurance, known as the marchamo.

To date, the total amount of fines reported to the National Insurance Institute for collection along with the marchamo is 168,100. That corresponds to ₡10.2 billion ($18.8 million), Rivas said.

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Contact L. Arias at

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Juan Mayer

Once again excellent work by Sala IV, but rather bad work by the lawmakers.
When I read about this new law here on tico times back then, I felt that this law was built on sand.
That impression got confirmed, when I signed up for the system.
You had to send in a signed and scanned letter by e-mail and the only feedback you got was a standard reply that your e-mail was received.
After all there were so many ways that the system could fail, that it just wouldn’t work as an evidence in court :
– Was my e-mail address accepted by the COSEVI employees?
– Did their notice make it all the way through the internet to my mailbox?
– Was it filtered underway by my e-mail provider, as they thought it were spam?
– Did I get a virus and hence wasn’t able to get into my e-mail account anymore?
– What do I do if my e-mail address changes?

I agree 100% with Aitor Xaranga:
The solution to this and so many many other issues would be to get real home addresses with house numbers.

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Aitor Xaranga

What good is an email address that you can easily delete and switch over to another service. The intent of the law is to notify the driver in case of violation of the traffic law.
This will someday be achieved when CR joins the civilized world in organizing home addresses and drivers are obligated to keep their addresses current.
I predict this will never happen in our lifetime!

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