New Costa Rica Traffic Laws

On the 1st of March 2010, the new system of fines for traffic and vehicle offenses came into use. The system replaced the previous reforms made in 1993 and is intended to simplify previous laws by eradicating errors and confusion from the legal requirements of the road and to give offending drivers tough punishment for road offenses. Fines for traffic offenses had a maximum penalty of c20, 000; the new maximum is c293, 400. While some opposition politicians have criticized the hefty increase in the amount charged for fines; others welcome a firm tightening of the law in the hope of improving the safety of Costa Rican roads. The fines are as follows:

The maximum fine of c293, 400 is carried for: reckless driving, driving without a license or a suspended license, pirate taxi-ing or carrying a minor on a motorbike or bicycle without a helmet.

A lesser fine of c220, 050 is charged for: driving without marchamo (annual road tax), doing a U-turn, jumping a red light, talking on a cellular telephone or traveling without a seatbelt.

Over-taking on the right hand side, traveling without reflective devices, driving a car with an altered engine, driving without license plates or throwing garbage from a vehicle or driving on the beach are offenses punishable by a fine of c146, 700.

Those riding a motorbike or bicycle without a reflective vest, taking too many passengers in a vehicle, driving without windshield or with a broken or illegally polarized windshield or running a taxi without a meter face a fine of c117, 360.

The fine for not maintaining the regulation distance from the vehicle in front, driving with an out-of-date license or if your vehicle does not have license plates in the correct location is c88, 020.

A taxi driver, bus driver or fare collector that mistreats a passenger can be fined c58, 680, as can a driver who is not carrying their license.

Drivers are charged a c29, 340 fine for not complying with vehicle restrictions (for entering San Jose in peak hours).

Traffic police reported applying the new fines to 450 drivers who were not complying with traffic laws on the first day of application and 512 on the second. One of the most common offenses recorded was of drivers entering San Jose’s restricted zone during peak hours. The previous fine of c5, 000 did little to dissuade drivers to leave their vehicles at home on the one day out of five in which their number plate was not permitted to enter the center of the city. The c24, 340 increase to the fine is expected to make a big difference to drivers respecting this environmentally friendly legislation.

The breaking of the laws outlined above is not simply punishable by a fine system. Drivers should expect to lose points from their license for the offenses committed, with a culmination of fifty points leading to a license suspension of two years. The more serious the offense, the more points are lost. Drivers over-taking in an area where it is not permitted should expect to lose up to 25 points, whereas a U-turn will cost you a maximum of 10 points from your license.

New Fines for Traffic and Vehicle Offenses
Valid as from 1st March 2010

Reckless driving c293, 400
Driving without a license or with a suspended license c293, 400
Unlicensed taxi service c293, 400
Carrying a minor on a motorbike or bicycle without a helmet c293, 400
Driving without marchamo (annual road tax) c220, 050
Doing a U-turn c220,050
Jumping a red light c220,050
Talking on a cellular telephone while driving c220,050
Not wearing a seat-belt c220,050
Over-taking on the right-hand side c146,700
Vehicle without reflective devices c146,700
Vehicle with altered engine c146,700
Driving without license plates c146,700
Throwing garbage from vehicle c146,700
Driving on the beach c146,700
Riding a motorbike or bicycle without reflective vest c117,360
Taking too many passengers in a vehicle c117,360
Driving with windshield that is broken or illegally polarized c117,360
Running a taxi without a meter c117,360
Failure to maintain regulation distance from vehicle in front c88,020
Driving with outdated license c88,020
Vehicle with license place in incorrect location c88,020
Taxi driver, bus driver or fare collector who mistreats a passenger c58,680
Driving without carrying license c58,680
Not complying with vehicle restrictions c29,340

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