Published Monday, January 4, 2021
DUI arrests increased despite the ban-on-driving
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
From January to November 2020, despite the ban-on-driving rule and the closure of bars, stores and places to buy liquor, the traffic police reported 12,169 breath tests, of these 2,063 drunk drivers were taken before a judge of the Public Ministry for breaking the traffic law.
According to the police, in 2019 when there were no pandemic restrictions, 1,871 drunk drivers were arrested. In 2020 there was an increase of 192 cases, equivalent to 10% more.
Drivers who test positive for drunk driving with over 0.75 grams in the breath alcohol test must be arrested, according to the Traffic Law.
"It is an issue that alerts us and concerns us," German Marín-Sandí, Director of the Traffic Police said. "This has been an atypical year in traffic, with the ban-on-driving measure effective since last April as sanitary vehicle restriction due to covid-19."
According to Marín, despite the closure of bars and other places for several months and the ban-on-driving rule that took drivers off the streets, the people have not stopped drunk driving.
In 2020, 2,488 drivers were detected with a positive result of the test, but only 425 had not exceeded the maximum limit of drunkenness.
Of those 425 cases, 189 drivers were at such low alcohol levels that it was not a cause for a fine. In this case, the breath alcohol test result must be less than 0.20 grams of alcohol.
The rest of the 236 drivers ranged in alcohol results. Those with below 0.75 grams in the test paid a fine of about $530 plus the penalty of 6 points on their driving record.
When a driver is penalized with 6 points on his driving record, he is forced to take the driving course again and must reach a score of 80 points of 100 to renew the license.
According to the police, 11 drunk drivers died in 2020 in car crashes.
During this first month of the new year, the traffic police announced the continuity of road control operations to detect drivers breaking the traffic law or the updated ban-on-driving law.
Meanwhile the ban on driving will continue to be applied.
On weekdays, the ban-on-driving-rules from Monday through Friday allows driving between the hours of 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. Vehicles are banned based on the last number of the vehicle plate number, as follows:
• Monday: Vehicles banned with plates ending in 1 or 2.
• Tuesday: Vehicles banned with plates ending in 3 or 4.
• Wednesday: Vehicles banned with plates ending in 5 or 6.
• Thursday: Vehicles banned with plates ending in 7 or 8.
• Friday: Vehicles banned with plates ending in 9 or 0.
On Saturdays, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. nationwide, vehicles with plates ending in 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 are banned.
On Sundays, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. nationwide, vehicles with plates ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 are banned.
Readers can verify the car plate number restrictions by visiting the government website Covid-19/Alerta/Vehicular.
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