For years drunk drivers have been allowed to get away with murder, literally, small fines like $40, or better, often just a bribe and the drunk is permitted to drive away as the officer smiles and waves goodbye.
Now literally over night, December 23rd, 2008 to be exact, the law has gone from one extreme to another. First offense drivers with .075 % alcohol in their blood lose their driver’s license, have their vehicle confiscated and can do up to three years in prison. Between .05% and .075%, or talking on a cell phone, it is a $900 fine.
This will be great at getting drunk drivers off the road as the first ten days the new laws were enforced, 172 vehicles have been confiscated in Costa Rica. I am not condoning drunk driving, but isn’t this a little extreme?
To me, after driving here for fourteen years, the far bigger problem with driving in Costa Rica is not so much the drunks, but the sober Ticos themselves who shouldn’t be behind the wheel, stopping in the middle of busy intersections to figure out which way to go, not signaling, driving at 30 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone, or 90 km/hr in the same zone, cutting you off, parking with their trunk hanging over the highway, making eye contact with their passengers as they talk, arms flailing trying to make a point, seldom the use of their mirrors, cell phone pressed against their ears, halogen headlights blinding on-coming traffic, totally in another world while sitting behind the wheel of a car.
I think these new laws will lead to even more corruption, as driver’s blowing over .075 will have no choice but to try and bribe their way out of a situation.
I know of some Ticos who now keep counterfeit 10,000 colon bills in their cars to hand to these corrupt officers who accept the bribe very discretely without an opportunity to check its validity of the bill.
The world evolves!