TICO BULL — La Sabana, 7:12AM Monday, a number of drivers started off their week on a bad foot, a traffic ticket.
Pavas, Rorhmoser and La Sabana (norte, oeste and sur) are all within the vehicular restriction zone, an area that about the only time we a Tránsito (traffic cop) is during events at the stadium, traffic control during biking and running events, attending the scene of an accident and to and from the “patio” (seizure yard).
[su_pullquote]Drivers have up to one hour to take their cars off the road after having their license plates confiscated.[/su_pullquote]Drivers are pretty much free to circulate without the marchamo, riteve, no license plate, gypsy cabs and total disrespect for the vehicular restrictions. Except this morning.
During my regular early morning walks from Pavas to La Sabana park and down the Rohrmoser boulevard, this is the first time I have seen a Tránsito “operativo” (spot check).
What first caught my attention first was the two red cars, with passengers in the front seat, having their licenses plates confiscated by the traffic officials. Then I realized that it was an operative, the six Transitos (traffic officials) blocking off one lane in each direction in front of the stadium.
In the ten minutes I spent being curious the officials stopped some 10 cars, all with license places either 1 and 2, while several others got off because the transitos were busy issuing tickets.
Back to the red cars.
The two cars were “piratas” (informal taxis) that offer public transport without a permit. Usually they are not red in colour, not to mimick the formal taxis.
The transitos, despite the conversations and pleas by the drivers, confiscated the plates and issued the drivers a ticket (parte in Spanish) for ¢100.000 colones.
“She has to get to the hospital de Niños (children’s hospital),” I overheard one of the drivers tell the transito, who was not phased the least bit.
Curious as to why the cars were allowes to drive away without their license plates, I asked office Hernandez, who explained that a driver has up to one hour to driver the vehicle home (or wherever). “The law permits a driver to move the vehicle off the road, after the hour, it will be impounded,” explained Hernandez. The official explained that the time stamp on the ticket is the reference in case the vehicle gets stopped again.
“For a ¢3.000 colones fare, the drivers now have to pay a ¢100.000 fine,” said Hernandez of the informal taxi drivers, who in addition to paying the fine have to spend time to recover the plates from the courts and out of work for days or even weeks.
Hernandez explained that the confiscation of license plates is used to reduce the impact on the vehicle impounds.