Proposed changes to Nicaragua’s Transit Law (Law 431) would increase fines for drunken and reckless driving, regulate motorcycle safety, and possibly affect auto insurance rates, according to the president of the Nicaraguan Association of Private Insurers (ANAPRI).
The proposed law, which is currently under the microscope of legislative commission, will increase fines for most transit infractions by an average of 60%.
According to the bill, drivers who get pulled over with alcohol on their breath will get fined 400 córdobas ($16). Drunk drivers who blow between .5 – 1 on a breathalyzer will be detained for 12 hours and fined 4,000 córdobas ($160), while those found in a state of “extreme intoxication” (registering over 2.0 on the breathalyzer) will face jail sentences of six months to two years and fines up to 5,000 córdobas ($200).
Motorcycles will be limited to two people, and no children under the age of 8 are allowed as passengers (meaning a family of four can no longer return from the hospital with a newborn infant sandwiched in between two adults on the back of a motorcycle). Motorcyclists caught driving without a helmet will be fined will be fined 500 córdobas (although it doesn’t say the helmet has to be on the driver’s head).
Reckless driving will also be met with new fines of 4,000 córdobas ($160) for racing and illegal passing at traffic intersections. Speeding and hit-and-run accidents will carry a fine of 2,500 córdobas ($100), causing an accident by crossing lanes without signaling will be fined 1,000 córdobas ($40), and crossing solid lines will be fined 500 córdobas ($20).
While the proposed changes to the transit law won’t be enacted until next year, National Police are already reporting a 15% drop in highway fatalities due to preventive efforts this year. According to police statistics, 493 people, including 200 motorcyclists, have died in traffic accidents this year –– 100 fewer fatalities registered last year at this time.