(QCOSTARICA) Applauded by some and rejected by others, the sanitary vehicle restriction is one of the most controversial measures that emerged as a strategy to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Costa Rica.
Almost from the beginning, the fine of ¢23,000 colones for violating the vehicular restriction was upped to ¢110,000 colones, seizure of license plates and/or vehicle, and six points on the driver’s license.
Given the criticism and the desire for reforms, promoted by the Legislative Assembly, the Central Government demands that it remain in place as one of the main strategies to contain eventual displacement of people that would mean sources of contagion.
Beyond the ballots and sanctions, it is clear that the fines for violating the restriction meant hundreds of millions of colones for government coffers.
According to the Consejo de Seguridad Vial (Cosevi) – Road Safety Council – up to September 22, ¢1,065,366,858.37 (one third of the fines) was received by the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) – National Emergency Commission.
What will happen to the money?
The head of operations of the CNE, Sigifredo Pérez, explained that the money will be used for the “primary care” of people affected by the impacts of the coronavirus.
“This primary assistance is basically aimed at providing food security through the distribution of ‘diarios’ (daily meals) to families who are in isolation, quarantined, and who during the days of quarantine,” Pérez said.
According to data provided by the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police), between March 24 and September 21, a total of 29,945 fines were issued for violating the sanitary vehicle restriction.
The measure has 2 stages.
One between March 24 and April 3, in which a fine was ¢23,000 colones and another between April 4 (when the stiff fines and sanctions took effect) and current.
In that first period, between March 24 and April 3, a total of 3,214 drivers were fined, translating into ¢73,922,000 colones.
Between April 4 and September 21, a total of 26,731 ‘partes’ (traffic tickets) were issued for a total of ¢2,940,410,000 colones. In other words, the total collected with this restrictive provision amounts to ¢3,014,332,000.
The paid fines go directly to the coffers of the Cosevi. As usual, in some cases, appeals are filed.
Currently, unlike pre-pandemic, many fines would go unpaid until, well, the driver or owner of the vehicle (if not the same) was forced to, such as in the renewal of a driver’s license, paying the marchamo, etc.
But with the new rules in place, violating the restriction, the vehicle’s license plates (or vehicle) are confiscated and to recover the plates (or vehicle), the fine must be paid.
Currently, the vehicle restrictions apply countrywide from Monday to Friday from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm and weekends from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Save for the list of exceptions, the following plates that CANNOT CIRCULATE on:
- Mondays: plates ending in 1 and 2.
- Tuesdays: plates ending in 3 and 4.
- Wednesdays: plates ending in 5 and 6.
- Thursdays: plates ending in 7 and 8.
- Fridays: plates ending in 9 and 0.
- Saturdays: plates ending in 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 (pairs)
- Sundays: plates ending in 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 (odd)