Posted by: Idioma Extra | May 23, 2011

Monday’s News

COSEVI In Agreement For Lower Traffic Fines


In December 2008, legislators passed the reforms to the [Transit Law], which included a lower tolerance for drunk and reckless driving, very high fines and a point system. Although the drunken driving provisions went into effect immediately, it was not until March 1, 2010, that the rest of the [law] went into place.

[What] was the result, from an administration point of view? A nightmare for the Consejo de Seguridad Vial (COSEVI), the department of the [Ministry of Public Works and Transportation] (MOPT) whose responsible for, among other things, the appeal of traffic tickets.

Since the law went into effect, there have been more than 85.000 appeals filed. And bogging down the process even more are constitutional challenges to the law and the fines.

One of the reasons for the high number of appeals, according to the director of the COSEVI, Hector Monge, are the high fines.

Monge is convinced that the high fines forces many to appeal just to avoid having to pay up, either buying time or waiting out the period when the fine can no longer be collected. Or for decisions of the Constitutional Court to strike down the high fines or legislators changing the law and making it retroactive.

Whatever the case, the COSEVI is inundated with appeals that now are taking a year or more instead of the few weeks that an appeal process should take.

To that end, Monge says he is in agreement with lowering some of the fines, especially those for infractions that do not endanger the lives of the driver and others.

In agreement with Monge is the current MOPT minister, Francisco Jiménez.

[Firstly], the minister shares the view of the urgency of the reforms to the law, adding that it should include a reduction of the fines of “less importance or risk on the road”.

Jiménez said that it is necessary to hasten the discussions on the reforms currently stalled in the Legislative Assembly.

Even before March 1, 2010, when the law went into effect legislators began discussing a draft to reform the reforms. However, given the short time left in their mandate, the then legislative body left the task to the new crop of legislators who took office on May 1, that year.

At first it there was a positive atmosphere that the new legislators would quickly deal with the reforms. Drivers began to take the attitude of “appeal”, as the law would be changed imminently.

Jiménez and Monge are two who support the reforms to the law. But, the current legislative agenda does not make the reforms to the [Transit Law] a priority.

COSEVI and MOPT officials argue that lowering fines would make the law more balanced.

Before March 1, 2010, the cost of a traffic violation was around ¢20.000 colones or US$40 at today’s exchange rate. Overnight the fines went to from ¢200.000 to ¢400.000 colones (US$400 to US$800) for the same offence.

Some will argue that stiff fines are necessary so that the driving public respects the rules of the road. Others will argue for the same, but not at such a high cost.

In the end, the high fines have created several problems for the MOPT and COSEVI, one being the large number of appeals, the other increased corruption – we are not saying that traffic officials are corrupt or not necessarily that if they are corrupt, that more transit officials are corrupt, but rather, the cost of the bribe.

Word of the Day

ap·peal \ə-ˈpēl\
Origin: Middle English appel, from Anglo-French apel, from apeler
First Known Use: 13th century
1: a legal proceeding by which a case is brought before a higher court for review of the decision of a lower court
2: a criminal accusation
3a : an application (as to a recognized authority) for corroboration, vindication, or decision; b: an earnest plea : entreaty <an appeal for help>; c: an organized request for donations <the annual appeal>
4: the power of arousing a sympathetic response : attraction <movies had a great appeal for him>
1: to charge with a crime : accuse
2: to take proceedings to have (a lower court’s decision) reviewed in a higher court
3: to take a lower court’s decision to a higher court for review
4: to call upon another for corroboration, vindication, or decision
5: to make an earnest request <appealed to them for help>
6: to arouse a sympathetic response <that idea appeals to him>

More Vocabulary

Bribe: n. money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust
Haste: v.
to urge on : hasten
Inundate: v.
Offence: n.
an infraction of law; especially : misdemeanor
Tolerance: n.
the act of allowing something
Mandate: n.
a formal order from a superior court or official to an inferior one

Idioms & Phrases

Bog down: become stuck, be unable to progress
Their research bogged down because they lacked the laboratory expertise.

Buy time: increase the time available for a specific purpose
Renting an apartment buys them time to look around for a new house.

Wait out: delay until the end of something
They waited out the war in Paris.


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