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Please review the following summary of Costa Rica’s traffic laws. Obey these rules at all times to avoid accidents by driving carefully and defensively, anticipating the unexpected. Since March 1, 2010, Costa Rica has a new traffic law, and traffic fines are costly for all drivers. For instance, running a red light costs about $600, not using child safety seats or booster seats for children under 12 years old, and speeding around $650 per ticket.

Unless otherwise stated, the minimum speed on highways is 40 kilometers per hour (k.p.h.). Speed limits vary and are posted along the roadway. On highways and secondary roads, the speed limit is 60 k.p.h., unless otherwise stated. In urban areas, the speed limit is 40 k.p.h., unless otherwise stated. Around school zones and in front of hospitals and clinics, the speed limit is 25 k.p.h. Driving on beaches is strictly prohibited everywhere, except when there is no other road connecting two towns. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited. The law allows police officers to conduct alcohol tests on drivers. The law requires all car passengers to use seat belts. Booster seats, baby seats, infant seats, and child seats are mandatory. Stop if a police officer signals you to do so. Police officers may ask you to stop if there’s an accident ahead, a checkpoint, or if you’re violating the law by not carrying a license plate or exceeding the speed limit, for example. Your personal documents and the vehicle’s registration documents are private property and cannot be retained by police officers for any reason.

If you are involved in an accident, always wait until a police officer arrives. Do not move your vehicle. The officer will prepare a report. You can also report the accident by calling 911 or 800-800-8000. Under no circumstances should you give money to traffic police or other officers. If a police officer insists on stopping you or retaining your documents without any apparent reason, ask to be accompanied to the nearest police station to resolve the issue. If you believe a traffic police officer or another officer acted inappropriately or if you have questions about their behavior, call 2257-7798, ext. 2506 or 911 and request to be referred to the nearest police station. Drive with confidence and stay alert. Do not stop for people signaling and never stop for hitchhikers. Do not drive or park your car in poorly lit areas. Never leave your car on the street; always park it in a secure parking lot. Do not leave any belongings in the car where they can be seen by passersby. Keep your car doors locked at all times. If you are driving in downtown San José, keep the windows closed. Check your car and make sure to carry the appropriate documents before starting to drive. If you are issued a ticket, pay it at the nearest state bank and present a copy of the receipt to the car rental agency when returning the car. Taxis are red with the license plate number painted in the center of a yellow triangle on both doors. Airport taxis are orange. Taxi drivers must carry visible identification in the cab, including their name and photograph. They must use their meters for trips of 12 kilometers or less. For longer trips, the fare is negotiated in advance.