Published 18 October 2019, The Daily Tribune
A report from the World Health Organization disclosed that road traffic deaths continue to rise in the Philippines, with an estimated 12,690 deaths in 2016. A significant number of these can be attributed to drunk and/or drugged driving. Hence, the need for a law which penalizes drunk and/or drugged drivers.
The Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law (Republic Act 10586) formed part of the statute books as early as 27 May 2013, but it was not until 28 April 2014 that its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were issued.
The law was enacted to ensure road safety through the observance of the citizenry of responsible and ethical driving standards, as a recognition to the policy of the State to protect the life and property of its people and to promote their general welfare.
It covers all acts of driving and/or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and/or dangerous drugs and similar substances. It also provides for the acquisition and deployment of testing equipment such as alcohol breath analyzers, drug-testing kits and other drug confirmatory equipment and accessory devices by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to law enforcement officers nationwide to be used by them in enforcing the said law. Traffic enforcement officers of the PNP, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and local government units may be deputized by the LTO in order to enforce the provisions the law.
Further, law enforcement officers are given the power to flag down motor vehicles if there is a probable cause or a reasonable ground to believe that the person driving the motor vehicle is under the influence of alcohol, dangerous drugs and/or other similar substances. This includes the authority to conduct field sobriety tests and the power to apprehend the violators and impound their motor vehicles if their blood alcohol concentration is higher than the prescribed limit.
The Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law provides for three field sobriety tests, which are standardized tests to initially assess and determine the driver’s intoxication. These are:
a) Eye Test (“horizontal gaze nystagmus”) — refers to horizontal or lateral jerking of the driver’s eyes as he or she gazes sideways following a moving object such as a pen or the tip of a penlight held by the law enforcement officer from a distance of about one foot away from the face of the driver.
b) Walk-and-Turn Test — requires the driver to walk heel-to-toe along a straight line for nine steps, turn at the end and return to the point of origin without any difficulty.
c) One-Leg Stand Test — requires the driver to stand on either right or left leg with both arms on the side. The driver is instructed to keep his or her foot raised about six inches off the ground for 30 seconds.
If the driver hurdles all of the three field sobriety tests, the driver shall be apprehended for other traffic offense only and not for violation of the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law. If the driver fails any of the field sobriety tests, the officer shall proceed to determine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level, through the use of the alcohol breath analyzer, on site. In case the blood alcohol concentration is within the allowed limit, the driver shall be apprehended for other traffic offense only and not for violation of Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law.
A driver of a motor vehicle who refuses to undergo the mandatory testing as required shall be penalized by the confiscation and automatic revocation of his/her driver’s license, in addition to other penalties provided herein and/or other pertinent law, after compliance with the requirement of due process.
For those who are suspected of driving under the influence of dangerous drugs and/or other similar substances, law enforcement officers are empowered by the law to bring the suspected drivers to the nearest police station to have them undergo a drug screening test, in accordance with existing operational rules and procedures, and if positive, a drug confirmatory test under RA 9165. A positive confirmation entails the turnover of the case to the police officer-on-duty of the nearest police station.
The LTO is likewise authorized under the IRR to conduct nationwide random terminal inspection and quick random drug tests of public utility drivers. A driver of a motor vehicle who refuses to undergo quick random drug tests as required shall be penalized by the confiscation and automatic revocation of his or her driver’s license, in addition to other penalties provided herein and/or other pertinent laws.
The non-professional driver’s license of any person found to have violated the law shall also be confiscated and suspended for a period of 12 months for the first conviction and perpetually revoked for the second conviction. For those having professional driver’s license, a first conviction already merits the confiscation and perpetual revocation of their license. The perpetual revocation of a driver’s license shall disqualify the person from being granted any kind of driver’s license thereafter.
The prosecution for any violation of this law shall be without prejudice to criminal prosecution for violation of the Revised Penal Code, RA 9165, and other special laws and existing local ordinances, whenever applicable. Moreover, the owner and/or operator of the motor vehicle driven by the offender shall be directly and principally held liable together with the offender for the fine and the award against the offender for civil damages unless he is able to convincingly prove that he has exercised extraordinary diligence in the selection and supervision of his drivers in general and the offending driver in particular.
Given the hefty fines and serious imposable penalties, motorists should be more responsible in driving especially when under the influence of alcohol. This could prevent not only one’s liability under the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law but more importantly, the number of road accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol and/or dangerous drugs.
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