(QCOSTARICA) A bill to make the vehicular restriction violation sanctions more flexible wins supporters in the Legislative Assembly and has enough political support to be approved.
The bill, that was presented this week by Legislator Pablo Heriberto Abarca, of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC), aims to reduce the financial fine for violating the vehicle restriction and nullify other sanctions.
The proposal returns the fine for the violation to the pre-pandemic ¢23,000 colones, from the current ¢110,000; eliminate the points on the driver’s license and seizure of license plates and/or vehicle.
The bill – known as the law for the balance of fines for vehicle restrictions in cases of national emergency – consists of an amendment to the Ley de Tránsito.
The proposal has the support of legislators of the PUSC, the National Liberation (PLN), National Restoration (PRN) and independents, who are pushing it to be included in the regular Legislative sessions in September, after the current recess.
Legislators supporting the bill argue that the current sanctions were temporary to face the national emergency, however, the scenario was different today: the pandemic had barely arrived and its consequences were not known.
The legislators maintain that the sanctions have not been effective, less in a scenario in which the economic crisis has worsened, where unemployment has reached 24% and many workers have seen their income drastically reduced.
The former mayor of Alajuela and now legislator for the PLN, Roberto Thompson, voiced the opinion of his caucus legislators and those of other parties, saying “that when the Legislature approved raising the fine it was considered a temporary measure to face the health emergency caused by COVID-19.
“However, months have already passed, and many of us have joined to support this project to return to the sanctions and fines that were established before the reform,” he said.
Legislator Xiomara Rodríguez, head of the PRN caucus, also confirmed her support for the bill.
She argued that at this time people need to work and the vehicle restriction is one of the measures that make it difficult.
“It seems illogical to me that the bus stops are saturated with people, the buses are saturated, but people cannot circulate in the vehicles,” she alleged.
“(…) in the midst of an exceptional situation in which people rather need to work and not join the high percentage of unemployment that our country suffers,” added the legislator.
Independent legislator Zoila Volio, who supports the bill, argues that when it was approved to raise the fine it was known that it was a drastic measure, but it was never thought that the pandemic would last so long.
“So we have to adjust the measure (…) I would support the proposal because now we have to rethink many things,” she said, adding that the implementation of the restriction has become complicated by the different alerts areas in the country’s cantons and the reduction of the public bus fleet.