San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Traffic fines

Costa Rican transit officials say higher fines in 2015 will help reduce roadway accidents

Drivers take note: Starting in January, Costa Rica’s traffic fines will increase by more than $26 in some cases.

The highest traffic citation – Class A – will increase from ₡293,000 ($553) to ₡306,000 ($578), the Public Works and Transport Ministry’s Traffic Department reported. Class A fines include driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with an expired license, and speeding over 120 kilometers per hour, among others.

Fines are outlined by Costa Rica’s Traffic Law, and there are five categories of traffic infractions, from A to E, depending on severity.

Class E fines, which include driving in San José on vehicle restriction days and tailgating by truck drivers, will increase by ₡1,000 ($1.90) to ¢22,000 ($41). Class B fines, which include blowing a red light or failing to use car seats for kids, will increase from ₡198,000 to ₡207,000 ($374-391). Driving without a seat belt or while talking on the phone, or failing to present a valid driver’s license belong to the Class C category. Those fines will increase from ₡99,000 to ₡104,000 ($187-196).

Traffic citation hikes are defined each year based on the Consumer Price Index as reported on June 30 by the National Statistics and Census Institute. The decree outlining the increases was sent for publication in the official newspaper La Gaceta and is expected to enter into force on Jan. 1.

Traffic Department Director Mario Calderón on Friday said the increase aims to create awareness among drivers and reduce roadway accidents. He said he believed the hikes are fair because they are – according to him – proportional to Ticos’ purchasing power.

Of course we all know that higher fines won’t make much of a difference if traffic cops aren’t around to enforce the rules of the road. Or, if they’re arbitrarily enforced, as is often the case in Costa Rica. According to an April 2013 story in the daily La Nación, Costa Rica has 900 traffic cops to patrol more than 7,600 kilometers of roadway. Of those, 160 work in the San José greater metropolitan area. Added to that, the number of vehicles in circulation on Costa Rican roads has nearly tripled in the last 15 years, according to, citing a transit official, increasing from 450,000 in the year 2000 to more than 1.2 million today.


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I got a $100 fine for parking in a yellow zone!!!!!!!!
Fines are tied to Tico purchasing power!!!!!!!!!!where did he come up with that. It would help if the highway patrol actually patrolled the highway instead of sitting under a tree with a radar gun, then stopping a speeder and giving him a ticket while the car is still on the highway causing a dangerous situation for all the rest of the drivers. I’ve passed cops numerous times while they chat on the highway and give a toot on my horn and wave my hand gesturing to get off the highway and they look at me as though I’m the crazy one. The cops need to be educated in highway safety as well as the drivers. Can citizens make “citizen’s arrest” in Costa Rica?

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Donald Waltz

Higher fines mean safer roads? Where, as stated in the other comment,no one is issued tickets here except in traffic accidents or when the police decide they are too bored to do anything else. People here drive worse than anywhere I have ever been and that includes downtown Baghdad Iraq, at least there they did have police officers directing traffic and keeping the flow moving but here I observe that the drivers create their own clusters by blocking traffic, running lights and just about violating every road rule know to man,including creating their own lanes of traffic. When I drive its become a nightmare and especially this time of year.

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pepe lopez

If you want to reduce the accidents, then you need to change the culture that thinks me me me. they need to learn to work together to keep traffic flowing, but here they don’t want to stop when the light changes so they run the red light, and since there is no room for them they jam the intersection so the ones with the green light can’t move, they need to teach people how to drive, and road courtesy, not just the rules that don’t get inforced, the only time you see a traffico is at an accident, at a light directing traffic or sitting on the side of the road sending text messages (sorry, using the radar) in the same places. you want to right tickets? have one at every stoplight and start giving out tickets, or let me take a picture of someone on the phone with the plate and i can send it in, i can’t tell you how many times a day i almost get hit because the driver is to busy checking their phone to drive.

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Sallyrose Nava

I love living in Costa Rica but have to admit that driving here is a challenge! I heard the BEST description of the Tico mentality regarding driving: To most people worldwide, green means go, yellow means proceed with caution, red means STOP. To a Tico, a yellow or red means “Be creative!!” Ticos are amazingly generous, kind people…until they get behind the wheel, it seems! But, I would not trade living here for anywhere else in the world. You just gotta take the good with the bad, I suppose!!

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