QCOSTARICA – In the first eight months of the 2015, a total of 1,350 drunk drivers were surprised by the traffic police. These drivers now face criminal charges and possible jail time.
The director of the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police), Mario Calderon, explained that on average a drunk driver is charged every 4 hours and 20 minutes.
From January to October of this year, 19 people died in traffic accidents directly linked to a drunk driver. That number is up from 13 deaths in the same period last year.
Despite the increase in the numbers, Calderon said his officials are doing a good job and puts a positive spin on the situation, saying officials saved the lives of the 1,350 and potentially many more that could have died in a drunk driving accident.
In addition to the drunk drivers, traffic officials also surprised 214 drivers in pre-drunk driving, that is impaired not beyond the limit to warrants criminal charges, but face a fine of ¢306,448 colones (US$565) and 6 points on their license.
The traffic law in Costa Rica stipulates a financial penalty and points for drivers under the influence whose results in a breathalyzer test are between 0.50 and 0.75 grams of alcohol, or between 0.25 and 0.38 milligrams in a blood test. For persons who earn a living driving the limits are lower: between 0.20 and 0.50 in a breathalyzer test and 0.10 abd 0.25 in a blood test.
Drivers accumulating, for the first time, 12 points in one lose their driving privileges for a year, unless the driver can prove he/she earns a living driving, then the suspension is for only six months.
One of the idiosyncracies of Costa Rican driving laws is that you can legally drink alcohol and drive, and that means you can drink while you are driving as long as you’re not over the limit.