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Losing Your Costa Rica’s Driver’s License (And Getting It Back)

There is confusion among many drivers about the driver’s license point system, how they are accumulated, the number of points for an infraction and at what point does one lose their license and must take the exam to get it back.

Driving in excess of 120 km/h can result in the immediate loss of drivers license for novice drivers and back to class for experience drivers.

Currently, if they want to drive again legally, 1,575 people must repeat the theoretical course and pass the written exam with a minimum score of 80%.

In addition, these drivers will also have to pay the highest fine established by Ley de Transito (Traffic Act), which is ¢306,850 colones.

The sanction that leads to the loss of a driver’s license is applied differently to novice drivers (under three years of having a driver’s license) or experienced.

According to Carlos Rivas, legal counsel to the Road Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Vial – Cosevi), a novice driver has to only accumulate six points before he or she loses their license. To get it back, they will need to attend the four-day course and take the exam on the fifth day. Their license is then renewed for a maximum of four years and not six as would normally be.

For the experienced driver (that is a driver having a license for three years or more and not necessarily having three years of actual driving experience), the law allows for the accumulation of 12 points before they lose their license. However, if before their renewal comes up they have accumulated at least six points, they must take the course to have their license renewed.

Major infractions that earn six points and the maximum fine of ¢306,850 include:

  • Crossing a solid line
  • Passing in a curve, bridge, intersection, etc.
  • Making a U-turn where prohibited
  • Illegal left-hand turn
  • Driving in excess of 120 km/h
  • Drinking and driving (being over the legal limit)
  • And, driving with a suspended license.

Infractions with four points and a fine of ¢207,359 colones:

  • Driving in excess of 40 km/h of the speed limit
  • Running a red light or a stop sign
  • Having children under 12 without the corresponding restraint (ie car seat or booster)
  • Driving with wrong license plates (that is with plates not belonging to the vehicle)
  • Carrying dangerous materials (as established in sec. 115 of the traffic law);
  • And carrying children under five years of age on a scooter or motorcycle
From La Nacion

The foregoing is from the Policia de Transito and the Cosevi. Also, bear in mind that driving in excess of 150 km/h is also a criminal offense.

Fine are payable to the Cosevi (by way of the state banks) and accumulate late fees and interest after their due date, which is basically following ten working days unless the fine is formally appealed.

Outstanding fines are kept warm in the Cosevi database and brought up when renewing a driver’s license or retrieving seized plates for illegal parking, for example.

Drive safe. Respect the rules of the road. Don’t speed. Don’t get caught. Pay the fines on time.