Published 31 December 2021, The Daily Tribune

In spite of the pandemic, the holiday rush is all over the roads and streets again.

In this regard, it is best to remind motorists of our primary and basic traffic laws and regulations which are meant not only to ensure an orderly flow of traffic and discipline among motorists but more so to ensure the public’s safety on the road.

The most comprehensive law on driving and traffic regulations is our Republic Act (RA) 4136, otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, which was enacted way back in 1964.

This law created our Land Transportation Office (LTO) and provided all the groundwork for almost all of our traffic regulations today.

RA 4136 required, among others, the (1) registration of all motor vehicles; and (2) the application of all drivers for either a professional or non-professional license. The law likewise set the corresponding penalties for failure to comply with the registration and licensing requirements, which penalties were updated every now and then by the LTO.

Under the law, all motor vehicles should be registered with the LTO. The initial registration is valid for three years and thereafter, must be renewed yearly. Failure to comply with this registration requirement may lead to the impounding of the motor vehicle and a fee of P10,000.

Meanwhile, driving without a license or an expired, revoked, suspended, or fake license may render the driver liable for a fine of P3,000 and disqualification from getting a driver’s license for a period of 12 months. In 2019, RA 10930 was enacted, allowing a 10 year validity of a driver’s license as an incentive to drivers who do not have any record of road traffic violations. The LTO started rolling out this 10-year license validity in October this year.

RA 8750, otherwise known as the Seat Belts Use Act of 1999, is the law that mandates the use of seat belts for drivers, front seat, and back seat passengers of public and private vehicles. This law likewise prohibits infants, toddlers and children under six years of age from sitting in front.

This law likewise requires car manufacturers to ensure that all their vehicles are equipped with the proper seat belt provisions, The seat belts should also meet the standards of the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in consultation with the LTO.

In 2009, RA 10054, or the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 was enacted which requires motorbike drivers and riders to wear standard protective motorcycle helmets prescribed by the DTI. A helmet should bear the Philippine Standard (PS) mark or Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) of the Bureau of Product Standards.

In 2013, RA 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013 was passed, which strongly prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, usually leading to injury and even death of all parties involved — drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

A police officer can determine that a driver is possibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs if he or she exhibits the following: (a) overspeeding; (b) weaving; (c) lane straddling; (d) sudden stops; (e) swerving; (f) poor coordination; (g) evident smell of alcohol in a person’s breath; or (h) any other signs of use of dangerous drugs.

Suspected drivers will undergo a series of tests to determine if they are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs such as breath analyzers, field sobriety tests, and chemical tests.

Please note the following serious consequences of this violation: (a) If the violation did not result in physical injuries or homicide, the penalty ranges from P20,000 to P80,000 and three months imprisonment; (b) If the violation resulted in physical injuries, penalty ranges from P100,000 to P200,000 and the corresponding penalties imposed under Article 263 of the Revised Penal Code; and (c) If the violation resulted in homicide, penalty ranges from P300,000 to P500,000 and the corresponding penalties imposed under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code. In addition to these fees, a 12-month suspension of non-professional driver’s license will likewise be imposed if apprehended for the first time, while outright cancellation will be imposed for those holding professional driver’s license.

Note that aside from administrative liabilities, criminal liabilities may likewise attach for violation of this law.

The most recent driving law is RA 10193, or the Anti Distracted Driving Act of 2016, which prohibits drivers from using electronic and communication devices while the car is in motion or even stopped at a red light.

An “electronic device” is defined as “any handheld electronic device capable of digital information processing, recording, capturing or displaying and computing operations such as, but not limited to, laptop, computers, tablets, video game consoles and calculators.” On the other hand, “communication devices” are defined as “electronic communications equipment such as, but not limited to, cellular phones, wireless telephones, two-way radio transceivers, pagers and other similar devices capable of transmitting, receiving, or both, of encrypted data and/or signals through wireless electronic or any other similar means.”

Notably, as long as the device in question is operated in a hands-free function such as earphones, speakers, and other accessories that allow the driver to use the device without holding it, the driver is exempted from the coverage of the prohibition.

Charged with the foregoing information, let us always bear in mind to strictly abide by our traffic laws and regulations for our own and the general public’s safety.

All told, have a merry, wonderful, and safe Christmas season!

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