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New driving restrictions in San Jose, Costa Rica

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Driving restrictions based on license plate numbers take effect in San Jose today. Rental cars are included, but taxis and buses are exempt.

You're prohibited from driving in the city during the morning rush hour (6-8:30 a.m.) and evening rush hour (4:30-7 p.m.) if the license plate ends in:

1 or 2: Monday
3 or 4: Tuesday
5 or 6: Wednesday
7 or 8: Thursday
9 or 0: Friday

You'd almost have to look at a map to get an idea of this, but the area included is quite large. It's the entire area surrounded by the Circunvalación, the ring road that goes around the city. Example: heading out to the airport, the Hotel Irazu; heading east, the Mall San Pedro or the traffic circle with the enormous Costa Rican flag; heading toward the Caribbean, the Saprissa soccer stadium.

The fine is a whopping 5,000 colones (just under $10). The news reports say that over 400 tickets were issued this morning, the first day of the new restrictions, to people with license numbers ending in 7 or 8.

I know how these things go in Costa Rica. There will be a flurry of activity at first, and then people will ignore the law and traffic police will become lax in their enforcement.

The moral of the story is that if you have a rental vehicle and are staying in the city or passing through, you need to plan around the restrictions.

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