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Costa Rica’s Sala IV returns traffic law

May 14, 2010

The task of revising the traffic law lands back on the desks of legislators after Costa Rica´s high court issued its ruling regarding the law on Wednesday.

Judges from the Sala IV found no problem with the law, except for a phrase about traffic penalties that they called too open.

They were concerned about the phrase “according to the circumstances” in Article 133 of the bill, which they say infringes on the rules of due process in criminal matters contained in Article 39 of the Constitution by allow judges too much leeway in imposing penalties.

The full article of the bill reads, “The respective judicial authority can increase the fines established in this law, according to the circumstances, by up to 100 percent of the corresponding amount.”

The traffic law has been in and out of discussion in the Legislative Assembly for more than 15 months, as many legislators considered to the fines contained in the original law to be too high. The law contains fines as high as $ 323 for talking on a cell phone while driving and $431 for operating a vehicle without a valid license.

Despite an intensive effort to revise the law after it went into effect, the old 57-member Legislative Assembly left office without success.

At this point, any effort to revise the traffic law must begin the process from the beginning: a legislative commission.

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