October 25th, 2012 (InsideCostaRica.com) – The government has announced that the new Ley de Transito (traffic law) will go into effect tomorrow. Here are a few things you should know.
1) Speeding: Watch your speed. Any driver exceeding the speed limit by 20kph or more (that’s about 12 miles per hour) will face a fine of 47,000 colones. Get caught speeding by 40kph (about 25 MPH) and the fine goes up to 189,000 colones. Get caught driving anywhere, regardless of the speed limit, between 120kph (about 75 MPH) and 150kph (93 MPH) and the fine goes to 280,000 colones. Anything faster than that and you’re going to jail for 1 to 3 years (plus fines and confiscation of your vehicle).
2) Don’t talk on your cell phone (without handsfree): Talking on your cell phone without using a hands free device carries a 280,000 colon fine, or about $560 USD.
3) Drinking and driving: The limit of allowed alcohol will be 0.5 grams per liter of blood. Meet or exceed the limit and you’ll face a 280,000 colon fine. 0.75 or higher will land you in the slammer for 1 to 3 years.
4) Unpaid tickets could cause problems leaving the country: Authorities have announced the implementation of a new system called “Border Closure,” which will allow airports and border crossings to impede the departure of anyone who has unpaid tickets with COSEVI (National Road Council), from the country, unless the ticket is paid. Full story here.
5) More expensive fines: The most expensive tickets will be for reckless driving, illegal overtaking, and invasion of lanes, which will all carry a fine of 280,000 colones, or about $560 USD. Seven other infractions will carry a fine of 189,000 colones. These include running a red light or not respecting a stop sign, altering a license plate, and not using a carseat or booster for children under 12.
The remaining 90 infractions will have fines that vary between 20,000 and 94,000 colones.
These include not respecting the right of way, which is a 47,000 colon fine, and those who fail to use reflective gear when they should, such as motorcycle drivers or while changing a flat tire on the side of the road (vehicles are supposed to have a reflective vest in the car.)
6) If you want your car, get it out of impound: Over 3,600 cars and 2,800 motorcycles have accumulated in government lots since 2009. The law allows COSEVI to donate these vehicles to the National Learning Institute (INA), public schools and high schools, and institutions of social wellbeing. The vehicle owner will be notified and given a chance to respond before their vehicle is donated, however.
7) Changes to the point system: Before, drivers had assigned points, from which various infractions would deduct from those points. Under the new law, there are no longer assigned points, only ‘negative’ points. A clean record would mean you have ‘0’ points on your license.
8) Loud music: Loud music in cars will not be allowed within a 100-meter distance of schools, clinics, hospitals and churches. Turn it down or get a 20,000 colon fine.
9) Driving Schools: Those who are getting their diver’s license for the first time may have to go to a driving school and present a title or certification in order to have access to the driving exam.
10) The cameras are coming back: This is expected to occur in February 2013. In the beginning, the cameras will be in operation Route 1, 2, Route 27, 32 and the “Circunvalacion”.