Tuesday, August 04, 2009

New transit laws take effect September 23, 2009

I've written a little about the new transit laws due to take effect soon, but my friend Amy has written an in-depth examination of the laws in her new e-book, Shorty's Guide to the New Ley de Transito. It's an inexpensive investment ($9.95), and if you drive here (cars, motorcycles, even bicycles), it's worth making yourself knowledgable on the subject. (Plus, it turns out I wasn't completely correct on some of the laws. Oops. Blame it on La Nacion.)

Here is just a sampling of the things you need to know:

On September 23, 2009, there will come into effect a sweeping legislation intended to transform Costa Rica's roadways from the hazardous - free for -all that has developed in recent decades, into a network occupied by safe, conscientious and prepared drivers.

Shorty's Guide To The 2000 Ley de Tránsito is a complete guide for the English speaking driver to know the rules and be prepared for the changes, that include:
» Computerization of Licenses, where points are deducted for infractions
» Dramatic increase in the amount of fines
» Safety seats for all minors under 12 years of age
» Harsh penalties and jail time for driving under the influence
» Immediate loss of license for multiple offences
» New devices requirements, like hands free cell phone adaptor, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, GPS transponder, etc.
» Sanctions for left lane slow pokes and no passing on right, even on multiple lane highways
» Foreigners and their drivers license
» Pedestrians will be required to cross at a corner or crosswalk
Now, all these new laws are fine and good, but what is the MOPT going to do about things like this? Can we fine them?

Yes, that's a telephone pole in the middle of the right-hand lane. Could they have possibly moved the pole before repaving the street? Nah, that would mean two government agencies actually having to coordinate with each other! This pole has been here, in the middle of the street, for over a month now. Let's see how long it takes to get the pole moved, or if the barriers just keep being shifted around. I'm betting on the second.


  1. Well, I'll go ahead and go OUT on a limb. As usual, Costa Rica is fairly good about putting laws into place, Sharkfinning would be an excellent example... but enforcing the LAW(s) is a completely different matter. Costa Rica's bark is usually much WORSE than its BITE. Costa Rica is all about perception not reality. The problem is if they do enforce these laws,, I think it will be the gringo's that take the biggest HIT. And I would also dare say,,, bribery will be on the RISE... but i could be wrong.

  2. Hi Michael! I agree with you, that's why I think Gringos ought to at least owe it to themselves to get educated on what they ought not be doing, so that they're not automatically "targeted" for getting a speeding ticket. Though if you look around at who's doing the reckless driving, speeding, kids in the front seat or no car seat, etc., it's not likely to be a Gringo. Personally, I've never had a gringo driver ride up my ass on the highway, but Ticos? Frequently. There are also thousands of new traffic cops going out there, and I hope they do more than just sit outside San Jose handing out tickets for people driving into town on the wrong day. @@ I rarely actually *see* the MOPT driving on the highways where they should be. Bribery? I'm sure! Though I'd bet a 5 or 10 thousand isn't going to cut it with the new high fines and points system. Hm, there's an idea for a post -- I would hazard a guess that most Gringos (since we don't come from a culture of inherent bribery) don't have a clue how to bribe a traffic cop to begin with. Who wants to tackle that one? ;-)

  3. Bribery is such a.... well, negative word. I prefer the term, 'gift'. "So, Senor MOPT, I would NEVER think of offering you a bride,, but I would be so grateful if you could accept my gift of $200.00 to use as you see fit.... maybe this will help with your childrens educational needs, or perhaps you could take your lovely wife to dinner... Senor MOPT, they just don't pay you enough for the work you do... I would be so appreciative if you could accept my gift.."

    but I know one thing, and you're right, 5 or 10 thousand just ain't gonna cut it anymore.