Rico’s TICO BULL – It’s not unusual while driving in Costa Rica to see some pretty uncommon traffic behavior, that sometimes become more common than not, and don’t escape the watchful eyes of the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police) officials and the quick draw of their electronic pad to issue a ticket (traffic fine).
So far this year, Transito reports issuing 1,431 tickets to drivers for ‘uncommon’ behavior such as using ‘perifoneo’ – loud speakers on top of a vehicle – to sell something, announce a store opening (loud music usually is used for this), collecting junk, or advise residents of planned electrical or water cut off, among others. That last one is perhaps not so bad.
According to Transito police director German Marín, so far this year, 5 drivers have been fined for the practice that is prohibited between 7 pm and 7 am, and 11 for doing so (at any time) in front of a school or medical center.
Other fines that most don’t think is a driving offence include crashing into private property (12 so far this year), towing another vehicle that is not a tow truck (39), or the 370 tickets for not having the license plate in its proper place (like having in on the dash).
171 drivers were fined for blocking pedestrian passage, 267 others for not giving pedestrians the right of way.
221 drivers were ticketed for not paying (evading) tolls, 15 for harassing the driver ahead with excessive use of the horn, 2 for beeping the horn in front of a church, hospital or school, 16 for using a ‘sound’ turn signal (uh?) and 214 for using handicapped (‘preferencial’ in Spanish) parking spaces.
But the tickets are not exclusive to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists can also get a ticket for doing stupid, sorry, uncommon things on public roads, such as the two people ticketed for teaching to ride a bicycle on a road with a speed over 40 km/h, and 12 cyclists for using the sidewalk instead of the road. 32 tickets were issued for skatboarding on the road, and 8 pedestrians j-walking.
All the foregoing offences come with a ¢22,859.95 colones fine (plus costs).
No word on home many of the 1,431 tickets have been appealed (a common practive) to possibly avoid paying or at least delaying paying for six months to more than a year, and the number of drivers who have no intention of ever paying.
Using an appeal to not pay the ticket the driver and/or vehicle owner runs the risk of having the fine applied to the driver’s license or on the vehicle, plus interest and late payment.
But, there is also the possibility that the ticket somehow gets lost in the system – due to inefficiency of the transport ministry and not for chorizo (bribe) – and will never have to be paid.
Then there is always the possibility that someone will appeal to the Constitutional Court that can result in the applicable law being overthrown and all unpaid fines become nulled.
The foregoing are all real possibilities. I can name three off the top of my head.
One the thousands of fines for speeding from the traffic cams some years back, all cancelled for unconstitutionality. Two, the ticket I got for not having changed over to the new license plate that never appeared anywhere, on my driver’s license or the Marchamo. That was like over 4 years ago. Three, in 2012, a ticket I appealed for having tinted read windows. It got the notice 18 months later, a 7 page fax – yes fax – with lots of words, that only the last sentence, on page 7, mattered, absolved.
To check for any oustanding traffic tickets visit the Cosevi website.