San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Traffic Laws

Lower traffic fines to take effect starting next month

Fines for traffic violations will drop by an average of 0.88 percent starting in January, thanks to a decrease in the inter-annual inflation recorded this year, the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) said in a public statement.

The slight change means the current highest fine of ₡309.574 will drop ₡2,724 (some $5).

The lowest fines, currently at ₡22,187 ($40) will be ₡195.25 ($0.35) cheaper. These smaller sanctions are applied, for example, to those who violate the vehicle restriction that prohibits drivers from entering the capital’s downtown area once a week, on a day assigned according to the final digit of the license plate.

Carlos Rivas, the legal director of the Roadway Safety Council (COSEVI), said the new fines will take effect during the first week of January. Traffic Police Director Mario Calderón said in the statement that he does not believe the reduction will prompt an increase in traffic violations, as it is not a significant change.

Approved fines

Costa Rica’s Traffic Law divides traffic fines into five categories, ranging from A to E, according to the severity of the violation.

Category A fines are the most severe and will drop from ₡309.574 to ₡306.850 ($555-550). They include sanctions for, among others, exceeding the speed limit at 120 kilometers per hour, driving under the influence, driving with an expired license, passing in a no-passing zone or making an illegal U-turn.

Fines in the B category will go from ₡209.200 to ₡207.359 ($375-372) and will penalize drivers for ignoring stop signs or traffic lights, altering license plates, or transporting children under 12 without a car seat. Motorcyclists carrying children under five also fall under this category.

Fines in the C category will go from ₡104.600 to ₡103.679 ($187-185). Fines in this category apply to motorcyclists not wearing reflective clothing and helmets, drivers carrying excess loads, the incorrect use of roundabouts, or bus and taxi drivers transporting more passengers than allowed.

Category D fines will drop from ₡51.771 to ₡51.316 ($93-92). These infractions sanction those who disrespect yield and other traffic signs or driving without a seat belt.

Fines in the E category will go from ₡22.187 to ₡21.992 ($40-39). These fines apply, for example, to motorists who fail to present all the required vehicle documentation, those driving without license plates or violating the vehicle restriction.

COSEVI invests funds collected from traffic fines in equipment and resources for the Traffic Police, in road safety devices, traffic signals, pedestrian crossings and road safety campaigns.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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