The Policia de Tránsito (traffic police) catch on average six drunk drivers, which seem not to appear scared of spending time in prison for up to the three years.
According to police reports, between November 1 2012 and December 31, 2012 a total of 385 drivers were caught with over the legal limit. The period corresponds to the first two months of the new traffic law that is more severe and reduced the amount of alcohol to drive without facing criminal reckless conduct, which is punishable from one to three years in prison.
A breakdown of the statistics indicates that 35% of the drivers had less than three years driving experience (new drivers or novatos in Spanish, as defined by the new law) or professionals (defined as drivers driving vehicles transporting cargo or persons).
These drivers were found with more than 0.5 grams of litre per blood, the legal limit for these two groups.
The remaining drivers were those with more than three years experience and had more than the 0.75 blood alcohol limit.
The situation is of great concern for transport authorities, calling it a “latent risk”, which was reinforced in the first couple of weeks of this new year, with more than a dozen traffic accidents death where drunk driving was involved.
German Marín, director of the Traffic Police, says that Costa Ricans tend to believe that even though they have had too much to drink, they will never get caught and will ever have an accident.
Although the law calls for a prison sentence, judicial officials confirm that depending on the situation, a drunk driver – if the first time and there are no serious injuries or death involved – could see community service and/or a fine instead of a jail cell.