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Do The Math, How Long Does It Take To Get Your Confiscated License Plates Back?

TICO BULL – Do the math. With more than 6,000 license plates – the majority in San Jose – confiscated of vehicles badly (Illegally(parked and the limit of a max of 200 plates returned daily by the Cosevi office in La Urua, San Jose, how long will it take to get the your confiscated plates back?

Stack of seized licence plates from the El Infierno en Costa Rica blog

About 30 days or more than six weeks given that the Cosevi office is open only weekdays (Monday to Friday). And no plates are recoverable on Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays (the next one coming up on September 15, Independence Day, just so you know).

I suppose the plan to rid of the bad parking or what I prefer to call “indifference parking” habit in Costa Rica comes with a hard lesson, not so much for the fine, but the days and weeks of waiting to get the plates back. And the hours in line when your day comes up.

Driving a vehicle without license plates means an additional fine and since there are no plates to confiscate, good chance the Transito (Traffic official) will seize the vehicle as well.

In all this, another question has arisen, one that I did not think about until I saw it being asked on a social media website: when a Transito confiscates the plates, does the vehicle remain where it is until the driver returns?

Since I don’t have first-hand knowledge of this and have yet to find someone who has gone through this, or at least that they will admit to, thus I ask for anyone who knows the answer to post it here, in the comment section.

So, assuming the answer is yes, the vehicle stays put, does it not not solve the problem the law to confiscate plates in the first place was enacted to resolve, that is to eliminate or reduce traffic congestion?

I mean, there is a row of illegally parked cars, all blocking traffic flow, a driveway, garage, on the sidewalk, in the middle of the street (not being funny, it really happens), all without license plates but still blocking traffic.

I can assume that tomorrow, these same cars won’t be there, the driver having learned his/her lesson, officials will argue. But do you think there won’t be other drivers with other vehicles to take their place?

A question that has been asked repeatedly is, why does the Policia de Transito prefer confiscating license plates instead of towing vehicles?

The logical, sensical would be to tow the vehicle that is the cause of the congestion. There is nothing more violating than to return to your vehicle and it’s not there.

Although I have not had this experience in Costa Rica, I did in Toronto (Canada), where my badly parked car was towed. My bad. My call to police was to ask if they had it, for it not, I would then be reporting it stolen.

A friend, also in Toronto, on my last visit, told me of her story of having her car towed with only 10 minutes expired on the meter.

So why can’t this be also in San Jose?

One, the Policia de Transito has very few two trucks units available. My Transito friend tells me only Transito tow trucks are authorized to haul off a vehicle for a traffic violation, including illegal parking.

Two, the time it takes for a Transito tow truck to hook up the vehicle, take it to the nearest Transito impound lot and return to service given the congestion and the fact that impound lots are few and far in between. And all are oversaturated.

There is a solution, though I doubt the political will.

Why not contract the myriad of private tow truck operators? They are everywhere and live to tow.

Who pays the cost? The driver/owner of the vehicle, of course.

Even the Transito tow is added to the cost of getting back the vehicle. So, in effect, the Policia de Transito, would not be out of pocket for the cost of the private tow. More, they would not have the cost of buying, maintaining and operating a two vehicle, and freeing up the officials to their work of policing the streets instead of being tow truck drivers.

Just a thought.

Confiscating license plates of illegally parked vehicles is the easy solution for transit authorities, but does not come near to solving the problem of the growing traffic congestion.

Let me ask you, have you seen a noticeable reduction in traffic chaos since July 17th, when the ‘seize the plates’ policy began?

Be safe. Be smart. Eat lots of pasta.