Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Traffic Penalties in Brazil

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


There are different penalties in Brazil for those who break traffic laws. Learn in this article the system of fines established in the country.

Foreigners who come to Brazil are allowed to drive in the country and even to get a CNH, the Brazilian driver's license. However, by doing that, they are subject to Brazilian rules not only when it comes to driving, but also when it comes to penalties and other traffic matters.

Traffic Penalties

All traffic violations are punishable by penalty. In Brazil, there are the following types of penalties:

  • written warning
  • fine
  • license suspension
  • vehicle impoundment
  • license revocation
  • compulsory attendance at driver safety course.

Brazil follows a system of traffic fines that was established in the Código de Trânsito or Traffic Code, instituted in 1997. In the Sistema de Pontos na Carteira, or points system on the driver's license, there are modalities of traffic violations that result in a loss of determined points, depending in the severity of the infraction.

The System

In the Brazilian points system, the more points you lose, the sooner your driver's license can be suspended. It is different from the system of the United States, for instance, in which you lose the license after accumulating a certain amount of points.

Traffic Fines

The penalties in Brazil are categorized in four different groups, according to their degree of seriousness:

  • Leves – each one of these penalties results in a loss of 3 points on the driver's license. These are minor penalties, such as stopping the car 50 cm to 1 m from the curb, using the car's high beams in areas where street lightening is adequate or driving without license and registration.
  • Médias – moderate offenses, each one of these penalties results in a loss of 4 points on the driver's license. Actions such as parking in another vehicle, preventing its exit, vehicle operation in a restricted area during a certain time period – according to the rodízio system – or parking in an area of embark or disembark of passengers, e.g. a bus stop, are considered moderate infractions.
  • Graves – serious offenses cost the driver a loss of 5 points on the driver's license. The lack of seatbelt use by the driver or passengers is considered a serious infraction, as well as parking in the pedestrian crosswalk or driving a vehicle in poor conditions.
  • Gravíssimas – these are the most serious penalties, the major infractions, which result in a loss of 7 points on the driver's license.. They are the ones which can cause more accidents and more danger to drivers and pedestrians, such as committing forgery with the driver's license or the registration or not reducing the vehicle speed near hospitals and schools.
Type of Driving Offense Fine
BRL 53,20
BRL 85,13
BRL 127,69
BRL 191,54

Depending on the situation, the penalties for major infractions may be multiplied 3 or 5 times. The only difference of these two types from the major infractions is the amount you have to pay. The number of points lost on the driver's license will still be 7.

Major Infractions Fines
Multiplied 3x BRL 574,62
Multiplied 5x
BRL 957,70

Speeding can be considered a moderate, serious or major infraction depending on how much the driver exceeds the limit. Driving under influence of alcohol is an example of major infraction where the cost is multiplied by 5.

Notification of the Traffic Penalty

The owner of the vehicle that has committed the driving offense will receive an Notificação de Autuação de Infração de Trânsito, which is the notification that a penalty was imposed, within 30 days after the offense has occurred. The document will present data such as the type of offense that was made, when, where, and the amount of the fine. Then there is a period of 15 days for the owner of the vehicle to declare who actually committed the infraction, whether it was the owner or someone else.

Disputing the Fine

According to the Brazilian Traffic Code, it is the responsibility of the Municipality to issue the fine. In some states, the Military Police is also able to issue fines. However, in some cities, such as Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, the public agents of BHTrans – which is the public company of transport – cannot issue fines anymore as of 2010, they can only monitor traffic.

It is possible to dispute the fine received. In this case, it is necessary to make an appeal to JARI, which is Junta Administrativa de Recursos e Infrações, the administrative appeal committee of traffic infractions. If the appeal is denied, it is possible to appeal again, but this time to CETRAN or Conselho Estadual de Trânsito, which is the State Council of Traffic – in Distrito Federal, the appeal has to be made at the CONTRANDIFE.

In some cases, it is possible to appeal to CONTRAN or Conselho Nacional de Trânsito, which is the National Council of Traffic.

Driver's License Suspension

The CNH can be suspended in two cases:

  • Suspension by the point system: when a driver loses 20 points (or more) in a period of 12 months.
  • Specific suspension: when the driver commits a major infraction which automatically establishes the suspension of the right to drive, whether 20 points on the driver's license have been reached or not.

The minimum time for license suspension is of one month, and the maximum is 12 months, except in cases of recidivism where the license can be suspended from anywhere between 6 to 24 months.

License suspension is not very effective in Brazil, though: in a study done in the end of 2011, it was shown that only 1% of drivers with suspend licenses actually stopped driving until they were legally able to do so again.

According to Detran, there are around 10 thousand drivers who receive the license suspension notification yearly. The estimate is that only 40% of them turn in their licenses, receive administrative measures and complete the driver's safety course.

Permanent Suspension of Driver's License

Drivers can have their licenses permanently suspended in any one of the following cases:

In these situations, the driver is prohibited from driving for a period of 2 years from the moment the license is cancelled. Then it is necessary to start the whole process of getting a license all over again.