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Time To Put A Stop To Costa Rica’s “Pura Birra” Culture

EDITORIAL – Costa Rica’s Judicial System Broken. Really Broken. Once again we have proof that Costa Rica’s judiciary system is broken. I mean really broken.

Once too many times we have seen a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs kill and be set free to, well, probably leave the country and away from the short sided eyes of the Costa Rican law.

Yeah, yeah, yeah conditions set by the courts prohibit the person from leaving the country, but let’s be honest, that only stops the innocent. The list of criminals – and anyone who gets behind the wheel drunk or under the influence of alcohol is a criminal – just disappearing. Poof. Nowhere to be found.

You can legally drink and drive in Costa Rica, and that means you can drink while you are driving, as long as you are not over the limit.

What message is this sending society? See In Costa Rica, It Is OK To Drive And Kill

The latest is the case of a 26-year-old driver who ran through a row of stopped cars and traffic police checkpoint to provide security for the runners of the San Jose 2017 Half Marathon.

Police gave chase, catching up to the driver only 6 blocks (600 meters) from where he struck David Yanez, a Venezuelan national who was running in the race to be able to send money to his family back home if won, and who died minutes later in hospital.

Catching up to the driver, a breathalyzer confirmed the drunkenness of the driver, who was immediately handcuffed and taken to the courthouse. This was early Sunday morning.

Less than 24 hours later, this criminal is now a free man, only having to sign in every 15 days and keep a fixed address. That’s it. Take a like, forget about it.

Last January, a drunk driver strikes down and kills three cyclists, a fourth died days later in hospital, also in the wee hours of a Sunday morning after a drinking spree at several bars, and also free awaiting trial.

When are the courts going to start backing up the police?

I am all for checks and balances. Police make mistakes, sometimes even intentionally to get a case closed.

But in Sunday’s case, the striking of the athlete was at a police checkpoint, under the eyes of the police, who didn’t have to go hunting for an unknown driver, giving the criminal time to sober up. No.

I urge President Luis Guillermo Solis to step and up call on the Attorney General, heads of the courts or whomever he has to call, to start a for real zero tolerance against drunk drivers and not the usual lip service.

Going against the ‘pura birra’ culture (drunk driving) may be political suicide. I can’t see any of the presidential candidates want to get near this, but may I remind the Prez that he only has a few months to go to his mandate (May 8) and with no possibility of (consecutive) reelection. As for the future, he, himself said publicly he is done with politics.

The hardline on drunk drivers could his legacy, at the very least a good distraction from the ‘cementazo’ – cement scandal.