License plates seized by traffic officers must be returned within a maximum period of ten business days after the process was started to request its recovery. This was defined by the Supreme Court Constitutional Chamber in its resolution number 2020-013986 of July 24, after a lawsuit introduced by a neighbor of Santa Ana with the last name Sandí.
The citizen alleged that her daughter was detained during vehicle restriction hours, on June 4, which is why the plates were removed. As described, the fine was canceled in a timely manner; however, the National Road Council (Cosevi) agreed to the appointment for its return on June 24, something that was considered by the plaintiff “distant and disproportionate”.
Given these allegations, the Chamber determined that the return must follow the basic rules of the Normal Public Administration Protocols, which is why it should attend to the procedures within a maximum period of 10 business days.
The magistrates considered that these are “simple, basic procedures, which do not require greater complexity”, and therefore “efforts should be made to provide it within reasonable time limits”, even in an emergency situation such as the one the country is currently experiencing, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The resolution even took into account the responses of Cosevi’s executive director, Edwin Herera, who pointed out that the vehicle restriction measures have forced the institution to process the removal and return of “thousands of plates” that “have saturated institutional capacities”.
In this regard, the Chamber said that it estimates that “even in the Pandemic situation that the country is experiencing, a period of ten working days is more than sufficient for this process, which does not require any further process.”
“Even as it is by appointment, that is, that the plates are to be delivered at a certain time and date are already known, the Administration may establish procedures that allow a minimum stay of the person interested in the government facilities, taking into account the exsisting health safety measures,” it was stressed.
The number license plate retentions has increased significantly in recent months with the application of stricter vehicle restrictions by the health and traffic authorities, to decrease the mobility of people – and possible contagions – amid the Coronavirus crisis.
The court sentence has exclusive application for the person who introduced the lawsuit. However, it serves as jurisprudence (frame of reference) for anyone who wishes to make the same claim on further occasions.