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April 21st, 2011
So there I was in town yesterday for a 2 minute stop at the drug store. I will admit that I did park next to a yellow curb, so I guess I am guilty, though there were no signs or warnings about how big a sin I was committing nor what was about to happen to me.
So…I grab my pills and start to chat up the regente (pharmacist) as we are old buddies. Almost immediately he asks me where I parked. I pointed and he says “RUN! They wait out there to get you and the ticket is HUGE!!”. How huge I wonder as I am hauling my non-to-light butt outta his store and across the street.
Too Late. There were two of them. One was a municipal cop (generally pretty nice folks where I live) and the other a much dreaded transit cop, also known as “tourism killers”. As I am from the 60’s, you have no idea how hard it was to type transit cop and not transit pig… but those days are gone…. I guess…sigh.
So I try to be friendly which seldom works as nearly every “transito” I have ever met seems to express equal opportunity hatred to every living creature. It seems they all suffer from some form of terminal hemorrhoids that makes them the nastiest sourpusses on earth. I have no idea how many tourists these clowns have offended and caused never to return to Costa Rica, but it is a BIG number if I can judge from the many emails I receive complaining about them… but I digress!
Interested? read on!
Well the polite approach did not work, and I had no plan B (except venting, which never works) so I waited for him to come back with my license and the ticket. He did and apparently trying to impress my with his English (if not his math skills) he says “It’s five hundred dollars”… smiling…. He is lucky we were not in the 60’s. “Idiota dice wat????” says I. (Not really). He says Gracias which I am pretty sure was his street language for “FU Gringo”. He also asked me to sign it which I luckily declined to do. Turns out you should never sign those tickets.
So I look at the ticket… and while his math sucks, he is close enough. It was for 231,000 colones or about $462.00 for you unwashed.
I about had a cow! WTF???? That’s about 60+% of the monthly income of a Costa Rican family! I knew the tickets were high for drunk driving and some other sins…. but a freaking parking ticket? Not even in a hospital zone? Gimmee a break. I have avoided blogging about the new traffic laws as 1. They are stupidly expensive and 2. the legislature (asemblea) reviews the laws about every eight minutes… then does nothing. They will eventually and eventually I will post something.
Anyway… I was was on fire. I started calling everyone I know trying to find out how to get out of the thing. I learned some stuff which I will pass on!
Everyone, not surprisingly, is contesting their tickets and the Cosevi is buried in many thousands of contested cases. I am happy for them!
More important, it seems that they have 2 years to resolve my complaint or I do not have to pay! Cool beans!
To contest, I must write a letter (Spanish, of course) detailing:
· full name.
· cedula or passport number
· Number of ballot citation.
· Date of citation.
· The grounds for contesting.
· Notification address: only two authorized ways:
- 1) Notification to address (only if your location is within a radius of 2 km (3 miles) from a unit responsible for resolving these disputed issues);
- 2) Notification by fax to anywhere in the country.
· The appeal must be submitted by the person signing, unless authenticated by the signature came from a lawyer.
OK… so here is the deal. If you get a ticket for anything, write the letter and jam the Cosevi. Exact page is here. It is your only chance.
If you are a tourist nailed with one of these outrageous tickets, I suppose you have the option of writing this letter before you leave the country or have an attorney write it for you. If you rented a car, they WILL charge your credit card if they get charged… and yes, it is in the small print. If two years pass… it will go away. If you do have to pay, maybe you (luckily) used a credit card that has now expired. That means the car rental agency must pay up and they will not be happy campers,
Next, send an email to every government agency you know (starting with the tourism people ) telling them they will get not one dime more of your tourist dollars until they bring the fines into line with reality. If you are a drunk driver though, your only right should be prison and neutering.
Whatever you do, do not ignore this as they can refuse to renew your Costa Rica driver’s license if there are any outstanding tickets.Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Costa Rica Tourism, Drivers License Costa Rica, Driving in Costa Rica, Ley de Transito, Life in Costa Rica, Tourism, Travel to Costa Rica | Comments (12)