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Costa Rica sees increase in drunk driving deaths

September 15, 2015

Costa Rica’s Traffic Police reported a 46 percent increase in drunk driving deaths during the first eight months of this year. A total of 19 people died in accidents related to drunk driving from January through August compared to 13 during the same time period last year, according to traffic police.

A total of 1,350 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence during the first eight months of this year and face criminal proceedings before the Prosecutor’s Office, police reported.

Traffic Police Director Mario Calderón expressed concern about the figures Monday, saying they reflected an increase in driver irresponsibility.

“Those figures mean that on average we fined a motorist for driving under the influence every fours hours and 20 minutes,” he said.

Nevertheless, Calderón said the high number shows that Traffic Police officers are doing their job.

“The positive side of this is that officers saved 1,350 lives of drivers who might have ended up dead in an accident, along with other potential victims,” Calderón said.

Between January and August, 214 drivers were also fined for driving with alcohol levels high enough to earn them a ₡306,449 ($566) fine and the accumulation of six points on their driving permits, though not high enough to merit criminal prosecution.

Costa Rica’s traffic law stipulates those penalties for drivers under the influence whose results in a breathalyzer test are between 0.50 and 0.75 grams of alcohol, or between 0.25 and 0.38 milligrams in a blood test.

When a driver accumulates 12 or more points he loses his driver permit for one year, unless he drives a car for a living. In that case, the permit will be suspended for 6 months only.

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