Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Driving Costa Rica- Pulled OVER during Semana Santa

Driving in Costa Rica has the potential to become a quite costly affair if you’re a TYPE A personality when behind the wheel- especially NOW- Original Post: New Laws for Driving in Costa Rica.

Here’s what was reported in the news during Semana Santa (Easter):

'According to Tránsito 5,600 tickets were issued during Semana Santa for all types of violations of the Ley de Tránsito. Tránsito subdirector, Huanelge Gutiérrez, explained that 975 of the tickets were for speeding, while the rest ranged from driving without a license, faulty lights and not wearing a seatbelt.'

Also indicated in the article was that Police arrested 88 persons for drunk driving- they must have missed my original post, now these 88 could face jail time (funny, I thought it was mandatory, but the article clearly stated, “could face jail time”…ummm. I’ll have to check into that one.
Well, we had spent a week in San José doing what we do (Do’in Costa Rica), videotaping, hotel and bar reviews etc, and when we got invited to Samara (Southern Guanacaste/Nicoya Peninsula area on the Pacific coast), we jumped at the CHANCE. We had been trying to visit there for quite some time.

Our friend was passing a few cars that in our opinion were going way to SLOW, and actually, I saw the policeman about a quarter of a mile up ahead in the middle of the road speaking with the driver of a stopped car, but didn’t think anything of it, even as we ZOOMED past the 4 cars. What I didn’t see was the radar gun, but we still thought we were cool and we weren’t traveling ‘that fast’,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, the policeman felt otherwise.

Come to think of it, the cars we passed did appear as if they were standing still.

Our friend sorta, kinda tried to plead his case, but the cop wasn’t having any of it. He wasn’t mean, just matter-of-fact and kept showing my friend the speed indicated on the radar gun.

This would be a good time to mention ‘bribes’. If you really believe all Costa Rica authority types accept bribes- you’d be sadly mistaken. And that mistake could cost you about 400 bucks. We wouldn’t have even thought to bribe this guy, and he was working ALONE. You could tell this cop took his job seriously and I'll bet when he lays his head on the pillow at night, he knows who he is.

Technically this ticket was in the range of ‘reckless driving’, and our friends was a tad nervous to say the least.

But like they frequently do in the States, this cop gave our friend a break. Cost of the ticket- $9.00.

It’s nice to see discretion used appropriately- this could have been SO much worse.

We were part of the Semana Santa statistics, but I can’t help thinking we may have gotten off a lot easier than most… Pura Vida to 'us' as this could have been a MAJOR Semana Santa BUZZ KILL…. it wasn’t.

Samara was GREAT! Upcoming VIDEOS and INFO and post about our visit to Samara.

Here's just a snippet of video of the cop that pulled us over. I give this guy serious PROPS and Costa Rica should be PROUD he represents them in his everyday interactions with the gringos and the public in general. He displayed good judgment and discretion and was professional at all times.

I DARE you to try and BRIBE him... double dare you.
I found out some cops don't like to be video taped...hehe

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