Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

Olympic Car Lane Fine Deemed Unconstitutional by Brazil Judge

  • Rio judge suspends $458 fine for driving in dedicated lanes
  • Olympic lanes used to transport athletes and workers to venues

A Brazilian judge suspended Rio de Janeiro authorities from levying 1,500 reais ($458) fines on motorists who use lanes reserved for participants during this summer’s Olympics.

The suspension is the latest demonstration of the power lower court judges in Brazil can wield. Last week, a decree by a state judge in Rio led to a temporary, nationwide shutdown of the popular messaging application Whatsapp. Rio’s city hall, responsible for the practice used at all recent Olympic games to guarantee access, said it is appealing the decision.

Judge Claudio dell’Orto, who sits in a division of Rio’s civil court system, described the fine as unconstitutional, saying that rules within Brazil’s pre-existing traffic code were a sufficient deterrent to drivers. Under those rules, the fines for driving in the wrong lane are 128 reais, less than 10 percent sought by the city. Drivers received a 130-pound ($170) fine during London 2012.

Rio has created about 260 kilometers of special lanes for the so-called Olympic family. The lanes, which are marked by a thick green line and feature the Olympic rings, went into action on Monday. 

About 6,500 fines totaling 845,000 pounds were issued to drivers for entering London’s Olympic lanes during the last games four years ago. The Olympic lane coverage there was much more limited than Rio, with just 48 kilometers reserved.

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