QCOSTARICA – From 10:00pm and until 5:00am drivers DO NOT have to wait for a green light, that is, you can pass at a red light and not get fined.

This thing of being able to cross a red light at night is little known.

According to Oscar Araya, of the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police), Article 104 (c) of the Ley de Transito (Traffic Act) allows for a driver to cross a red light at night.

[su_box title=”From the Ley de Transito: ” box_color=”#f7ebeb” title_color=”#141212″ radius=”0″]Después de las veintidós horas y antes de las cinco horas, si el tránsito en la vía con luz verde lo permite, el conductor podrá continuar el paso como si se tratara de un cruce regulado con señal fija de alto. No obstante, la Dirección General de Ingeniería de Tránsito podrá prohibir esta opción de paso con el semáforo en rojo en los sitios en que técnicamente se justifique, en cuyo caso colocará el señalamiento fijo que así lo indique.[/su_box]

Click here of the Ley de Transito (PDF file)

Of course, if you have a red light, the cross traffic is green. Araya suggests making a full stop before proceeding.

According to the Policia de Transito (traffic police) there are two fundamental reasons for the flexibility in the law at night.

Traffic official Oscar Araya explaining the red ight at night
Traffic official Oscar Araya explaining the red ight at night. See video at

One, in the words of Araya, it is not the most recommended to be sitting at a red light at say 1:00am, especially in an isolated area, where the driver can become a victim of crime. And second, there is no reason why a person, again in the middle of the night and with no traffic, having to wait for a light to change.

What about increased accidents? Not likely, says Araya, given the few vehicles on the roads at night and drivers crossing a red light do so with precaution, first checking that there is no cross traffic.

Araya also reminds all drivers that in Costa Rica you can make a right turn on a red light, day or night, unless there is a sign at the intersection prohibiting it.

In all my years of driving in Costa Rica I was not aware that the crossing red light at night was legal. I seldom stop for a red light in the wee hours of the night, especially in the downtown area San Jose and alwasys had ready excuse in case I ever got stopped. Never did get stopped. Now that I know, goodbye to red ligths.

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