QCOSTARICA – Drivers pay attention, a Transito (Traffic Official) cannot give you a ticket if you don’t have your driver’s license on you.
This can happen to anyone. You rush out of the house and leave your wallet at home, only half way to realize you don’t have your driver’s license with you.
Don’t believe the myths, know the facts.
Here are a few myths dispelled by Hedmer Fallas, director of operations at the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police):
1. Transitos have a quota. FALSE. According to Fallas this is a lie. There is no quota that officials have to adhere to and tickets are written out if and only when they are warranted. But that doesn’t stop a Transito from writing you up on multiple tickets, such as speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and having too many passengers in the vehicle, for example, all in one stop.
2. Transito must by in a visible location. TRUE. According to the Ley de Transito (Traffic Law), officials must be in a visible spot for drivers, eliminating the surprise factor. No hiding behind the bushes.
3. Transito cannot write you up twice for the same fault. FALSE. Fallas says it is possible to write you up for the same infraction more than once, as long at it is a different point. For example, you are at the airport and get written up for not having the Marchamo or Riteve or whatever. So, on your way to somewhere else from the airport, another Transito, in a different location can write you up for the same infraction a few minutes later. Showing your earlier ticket may or may not get you off with a warning.
4. No drivers license on you, no fine. TRUE. But this is only if the driver has a driver’s license, just not on his or her person. In such a case, the Transito is required to call in for verify that the driver is in fact licensed and if so, no problem. No ticket. But…
5. The seizure of license plates includes the vehicle. FALSE. The Policia de Transito ‘patios’ (yards) are oversaturated with seized vehicles, with no room for more vehicles. And seizing a vehicle takes time, the Transito may have to call one of the two truck units (in the past the majority of traffic police patrols were tow truck units), so much easier to confiscate the plate. Besides a meauring tape (used in traffic accidents), a screwdriver and pliers is an essential tool of all traffic officials. Once the license plate is physically removed from the vehicle, the driver then has a ‘reasonable time’ to get the car home (parked somewhere not on a public street). According to Fallas, the reasonable time is usually less than an hour of the time on the ticket., past that, if the vehicle is pulled over by another Transito, it could be subject to seizure.