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Costa Rican court dismisses law fining those not wearing a seat belt

May 29, 2011

Driving or riding in a vehicle without a seat belt will no longer result in a $475 fine, according to a ruling issued by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) on Friday.

The Sala IV judges considered the amount of the fine to be “disproportionate and unreasonable” compared to the infraction.

Anyone who has a pending fine for not using a seat belt will not have to pay the ticket.

Drivers caught not wearing a seat belt or carrying passengers not wearing seat belts may have 20 points deducted from their license. Drivers who lose a total of 50 points may have their licenses revoked for a period of two years.

Public Works and Transport Minister Francisco Jiménez disagreed with the ruling.

“This is a serious sin,” Jiménez told the daily La Nación. “With this resolution we are not taking one step back but five. It means we are returning to the Stone Age.”

So far, the Sala IV still needs to rule on six other constitutional appeals filed by citizens against transit laws. All of the appeals challenge established fines for actions such as talking on a cell phone while driving or parking in non-authorized areas.

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