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JULY 28. 2014
Commentaries to the Transit and Road Safety Law

On 21 May 2014 Law No. 5016/2014 was enacted, thus replacing the outdated regulation which was Decree No. 22094/47 “General Transit Regulation” in 1947, thus setting on equal footing the local regulation with it’s the one of its closest environment, the MERCOSUR, based on control of traffic  accidents and the reduction of the death rate as governing principle.

 

The regulation present amongst other novelties:

1- The creation of the National Transit and Road Safety Agency which is responsible for the application of the Law and issuing the future necessary regulatory norms. There is a 12 month period established for issuing the Regulation, which is important as there are several open issues such as the Mandatory Technical Inspection of Vehicles, Mandatory Car Insurance, inter alia. The control of transit in both national and interstate highways will be in charge of the Road Patrol under supervision of the MOPC (Ministry of Public Works and Communications), which constitutes merely name change to the Road Police as it is historically known. It also creates a National Registry of Driver’s License and traffic background which will hold records every type of infraction committed by the drivers and several other novelties which will be consequently explained.  

 

2- In Commercial Publicity matters, it establishes a prohibition based on reasons of road safety, forbidding advertisements, billboards or any other sort of publicity over the public roads and the public domain strip such as the following cases:

a)    Signs or advertisements similar to traffic signs (so as to avoid a possible confusion of the driver);

b)    Place any type of advertising over  traffic signs (as it would hinder its vision);

c)     Place advertising which would reduce the visibility of traffic signs.

The governing authority will be in charge of regulating the conditions for placement of advertising in order to prevent the reduction of traffic signs visibility for the drivers or the understanding of said signs.

It is forbidden to relate in advertising driving and drinking alcoholic beverages.

 

3- Likewise, art. 45 provides the absolute prohibition to consume alcoholic beverages in public roads or in commercial establishments which have direct access from highways, national roads, department roads (sale however is not forbidden in these establishments). This can turn to affect several commercial establishments, since in Paraguay many principal ways and routes represent the circulation axis for many towns and cities of the Asuncion Metropolitan Area as well as in the countryside. 

 

4- One important novelty is the inclusion of the Mandatory Technical Inspection of Vehicles, thus equaling the regulation of all the surrounding countries.  This has been motivated by both active and passive safety factors and environmental factors. It is worth mentioning that the entry into force of Law No. 3850/09 amended by Law No. 4856/12 which regulates ITV (vehicles technical inspection) was postponed until 1 July 2014, while mentioning that this mandatory inspection will not even be performed without the mandatory insurance, which is another one of the important obligations established by this Law (art. 53).

 

5- In this sense, the Mandatory Insurance for Traffic Accidents (SOAT) is a vital matter for the rapid attention of the victims of traffic accidents. This insurance will be mandatory for vehicles and motorcycles of all types, covering costs for medical and surgical attention, medicine, hospital fees, disability, and those related to the immediate transport of the injured persons.

Those vehicles in charge of public transportation, aside from SOAT are required to hire mandatory passenger care insurance.

The insurance will have to be renewed annually and can be contracted from any local insurance company registered and authorized for operations with the car industry in Paraguay. On other issues  the regulation is similar to that one of  other countries, providing the possibility to claim from  the insured party all the costs incurred in due to his malice or negligence; and also the Superintendence of Insurance establishes a contribution to be paid (a percentage of the premium collected by the mandatory insurance) to the National Transit and Road Safety Agency to be used in the fulfillment of its duties.

This presents a great opportunity for insurance companies which will increase its number of insurance policies.

 

6- Another novelty included by the Law is the creation of the ID card which accumulates points, granting initially all drivers 20 points, thus bringing back into force this insurance which Law had been derogated in beginning of 2014.

 

7- As for the penalties established, these are divided in minor offenses, serious offenses, and very serious offenses. They are sanctioned as follows:

-       Minor offenses: penalized with a warning or a fine of up to 3 minimum daily wages (USD 48.95)

-       Serious offenses: penalized with a fine of 4 minimum daily wages and up to 10 minimum daily wages (USD 163), subtraction of 3 points from the drivers ID card or suspension thereof if applicable.

-       Very serious offenses: Penalized with 11 to 20 minimum daily wages (USD 326), subtraction of 5 points from the drivers ID card or suspension thereof if applicable.

When there is voluntary acknowledgement of the offense from the offender, the fine will be reduced in 25% for both minor and serious offenses.   

 

Aside from the driving under the influence of alcohol issue (to which we will refer particularly) minor offenses are those which are not foreseen as serious or very serious.

Serious offenses are, inter alia, lack of the required documentation, circulation of the vehicle without mandatory insurance or license plates on, driving over the speed limit, or using headphones or any other communication system which as to be operated manually in a continuous manner, non-use of the seat belt by any of the passengers while driving, and not having the lights on when required.

Very serious offenses for example are those which caused an accident which resulted in personal injuries or material damages, running red lights or stop signs, escape or refuse to provide the necessary documentation when required.

 

8- in regard to the regulation of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol: the following standards are set in order to penalize the offenses according to the grade of the influence:

-       .001 to .2 in Breathalyzer will be a minor offense.

-       .2 to .799 in Breathalyzer will be a serious offense.

-       Refusal to submit to the Breathalyzer test or if the psychophysical abilities of the driver are significantly reduced as a result of alcohol, it will be considered a very serious offense. It is also considered such to consume alcohol in public ways or in commercial establishments which have direct access from highways, national roads, and department roads.

 

9- Finally, it modifies the Criminal Code in order to sanction with jail time of up to 2 years or a fine, inter alia, those conducts which “significantly or legally affect the abilities of the driver to drive” and when driving while without a license or being suspended therefor, punishing equally to the owner of the vehicle who tolerates such conducts.


Authors:   - Soraya Laborda






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