Tourists Drivers License Extension, Official Resolution
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORTATION. – San Jose, April 28, 2020 5:00 p.m.
Official Letter No. DVT-DGEV- 2020-195 of March 16, 2020 from Lic. María Eugenia Salazar Salaverry, Deputy Director a. i. of Traffic Education to the Vice-Minister of Transport and Road Safety requesting the declaration of state of emergency throughout the territory of the Republic of Costa Rica, based on Executive Decree No. 42227-MP-MS and in response to the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 disease, so that all customer services be suspended, namely, written and driving tests and/or driver accreditation.
FIRST: As per Circulars No. CIR-DVA-2020-6 and CIR- DVA-2020-7 of March 10, and CIR-DVA-2020-8 of March 11, 2020, respectively, the Administrative Division recommended the implementation of temporary and exceptional measures during working hours, and medical guidelines and advice by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security regarding the COVID-19 health alert.
SECOND: A state of emergency is hereby declared, throughout the territory of the Republic of Costa Rica, in response to the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 disease. The foregoing is in accordance with Executive Decree No. 42227-MP-MS, of March 16, 2020 and Articles 21, 50, and 146 (subsections 6 and 8) of the Political Constitution regarding the inviolability of human life and every person’s right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, the maintenance of public order and tranquility, and the implementation of all measures to safeguard civil liberties and ensure the proper operation of administrative services and offices, the Emergencies and Risk Prevention Law (Law No. 8488), the General Health Law (No. 5395), the Organic Law of the Ministry of Health (No. 5412) and the General Law of Public Administration (No. 6227 as amended).
THIRD: Decree No. 42227-MP-MS and Article 30 of Law No. 8488 provide the actions for the containment and control of outbreaks in order to safeguard the health and life of the population, maintain public order and interest and the environment by laying down mandatory and indispensable contingency measures in this state of emergency.
FOURTH: Decree No. 42227-MP-MS further states that the declaration of state of emergency encompasses all administrative activities carried out by the State, in order to address the urgent needs of public officials and users thus protecting services and goods.
FIFTH: Circular No. DM-CIR-2020-004 of March 16, 2020, in compliance with the declaration of state of national emergency (Executive Decree 42227-MP-S), provides mandatory guidelines for the public sector, including all administrative and operational staff of this ministry, effective as of March 18.
SIXTH: In Official Letters No. DVT-DGEV-2020-195, of March 16, 2020 and No. (S/N), of April 17, 2020 from Licda. María Eugenia Salazar Salaverry, Deputy Director of Traffic Education to Arq. Eduardo Brenes Mata, Vice-Minister of Transport and Road Safety, and in accordance with Executive Decree No. 42227-MP-MS, Directive No. 077-S-MTSS, and Circulars CIR-DVA-2020-12 and CIR-DVA-2020-14 by the Administrative Division, it was requested that all written and driving tests and license homologation/driver accreditation services be suspended.
SEVENTH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Security expressed its opinion on the labor-related implications of coronavirus (COVID 19) in our country, as well as their possible solutions, namely citing Law N ° 5395 on the faculties of the Ministry of Health to prevent the spread and aggravation of epidemics, such as the closure of establishments. Similarly, the Minister of Labor touched on the possibility that employment contracts are suspended, which implies the preservation of employment rather than the termination thereof, as stipulated in Articles 73 and 74 of the Labor Code on the grounds of force majeure and/or unforeseeable circumstance(s), such as the abovementioned pandemic. Some of the possible solutions include vacations, teleworking and medical leaves of absence and it will be the duty of the Ministry of Health and other government authorities to decide on the (partial or total) closure of the above-cited institutions as a preventive measure to the spread of COVID-19.
EIGHTH: In observance of the guidelines issued in Administrative Resolution No. 000325, of March 20, 2020, and Resolutions No. 2020-000410 of April 8, 2020 and No. 000479 of April 20, 2020, a grace period was granted to all drivers with licenses expired as of March 20, 2020, i. e., the date of the first administrative resolution.
NINTH: Section 6 of Resolution No. DJUR-0069-04-2020-JM (Supplement No. 96 of Official Gazette No. 89 of April 23, 2020) by the Ministry of Public Security and Police and the Department of Immigration reads as follows: “MAXIMUM LENGTH OF STAY FOR TOURISTS: For all relevant purposes, the maximum length of stay authorized for foreigners under a tourist immigration category entering the country after December 17 is extended through July 17, 2020”. Likewise, a grace period is granted to those drivers whose license homologation period is due by May 15, 2020.
FIRST: Understanding that this pandemic is a topic of public interest, this department must make all decisions required to safeguard the population as a value taking precedence over any other consideration in this global emergency. In this sense, the relationship between users and public officials, namely, written and driving tests and homologation/driver accreditation with the Directorate General of Traffic Education, concerns numerous users demanding continuous, permanent, and personal services.
Along this line of thinking, given the nature and duties of the Directorate, the suspension of services effective until May 15, 2020 in order to prevent serious personal damage is a logical, rational measure, compliant with the provisions of Article 50 of the Political Constitution; Articles 4, 10, 16, 113, 160 and 226 of Law No. 6227, as amended, and Article 3 of the Law against Corruption and Illicit Enrichment in the Civil Service (No. 8422).
In this regard and, in accordance our Circular No. DM-CIR- 2020-004 and the guidelines by the President of the Republic, management ought to consider sending employees on vacation. Furthermore, teleworking must be permanent, where possible, for those employees falling under Section 4 of the aforementioned circular and/or the handover to administrative tasks if appropriate, or unusual tasks, to be supervised and evaluated by management.
On the other hand, a grace period until May 15, 2020 is granted to all drivers affected by the cessation of license renewal/homologation services. During this time, traffic police officers will refrain from issuing tickets to any drivers with an expired license or going beyond the 3-month homologation period (international drivers) on a tourist/in-transit condition, or any permanent residents with an uninterrupted stay longer than 3 months and homologation dates as of March 20, i.e., the date of issuance of Resolution No. 000325, and as of the signing date of this resolution (until May 15, 2020).
THEREFORE, THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORTATION, in accordance with Articles 21, 50 and 146 (subsections 6 and 8), of the Political Constitution, the Emergencies and Risk Prevention Law (Law No. 8488), the General Health Law (No. 5395), the Organic Law of the Ministry of Health (No. 5412) and the General Law of Public Administration (No. 6227 as amended) orders as follows:
- The suspension of services provided by the Directorate of Traffic Education (written/driving tests, license homologation/driver accreditation) will be extended until May 15, 2020.
- A grace period will be granted to all drivers with license expiry dates as of March 20, 2020, i.e., the issuance date of Administrative Resolution No. 000325, and Resolutions No. 2020-000410 and No. 000479 of April 20, 2020. This extension will be effective until May 15, 2020.
- A 3-month grace (maximum) period will be granted to all drivers (tourists) holding expired international licenses homologated in Costa Rica with entry dates after December 17, 2019, in accordance with Resolution No. DJUR-0069-04 -2020-JM by the Ministry of Public Security and Police and the Department of Immigration. This time extension is authorized until July 17, 2020.
- A grace period will be granted to all accredited drivers holding international licenses, with an uninterrupted stay longer than 3 months, with homologation dates as of March 20, i.e., the issuance date of Resolution 000325-MOPT. This grace period will be extended until May 15, 2020.
- This grace period will not apply to any drivers with a license expiry date prior to March 20, 2020, i.e., the issuance date of Resolution No. 000325. Any such drivers must schedule their renewal appointments at any Banco de Costa Rica branches offering this service.
- The Directorate of Traffic Education will re-assign employee tasks on a temporary and exceptional basis, and/or authorize vacations for those employees in charge of written/driving tests and/or driver accreditation, determine which tasks can be carried out remotely (teleworking) and which ones apply to the officials referred to in item 4 of Circular No. DM- CIR-2020-004 issued by this Department and Directive No. 077-S-MTSS and Circular No. CIR-DVA-2020-12 by the Administrative Division, in observance of Circular No. CIR-DVA-2020-14 signed by Lic. Christian Méndez Blanco, Director a.i. of the Administrative Division.
- The Directorate of Traffic Education is required to present the operating protocol to be followed nationwide once services resume (i.e., written/driving tests, license homologation/driver accreditation), in compliance with all guidelines, directives and sanitary measures/recommendations to date issued by the President of the Republic.
- Instructions will be given for the Directorate of Highway Safety to enforce this resolution.
- This Resolution will be cascaded to the Directorate General of Traffic Education (MOPT), the Transport Division, the Road Safety Council, and the Traffic Police Director.
- Let it be known and published on the MOPT website.
Rodolfo Méndez Mata