Published 3 January 2022, The Daily Tribune

In line with our goal to keep motorists and the general public safe during this busy season, we further discuss common road signs and the consequences of disregarding them. At the same time, we discuss your rights when apprehended by a traffic enforcer.

Our road signs are classified into regulatory signs, warning signs, informative signs, signs for expressway, traffic information and road work signs, signs for special or miscellaneous purposes and other hazard markers.

Here, we discuss the regulatory traffic signs which inform road users of traffic laws and regulations which, if disregarded, will constitute an offense.

Our most common regulatory signs include, among others, the (a) Stop sign; (b) No Parking sign; (c) No Entry for All Types of Vehicles sign; (d) No Right Turn or No Left Turn sign; (f) No U-Turn sign; (g) No Overtaking sign; (h) No Blowing of Horn sign; (h) speed limit signs; (i) parking and stopping signs; and (j) load and dimension restriction signs.

Under the Department of Public Works and Highways Road Signs and Pavement Markings Manual, the road signs should be concise, meaningful, and consistent, and their design and placement must be coordinated with the road geometric design.

The No Entry sign, for example, shall be used at the termination of a one-way carriageway to prohibit access to all vehicles from the wrong direction. At one-way street exits, No Entry signs shall be erected on both sides of the street at the intersection facing in the opposite direction to the one-way flow. The signs may need to be located a short distance into the one-way street if there is a possibility of drivers becoming confused as to which street is closed for entry. Sufficient signs shall be erected to ensure that at least one is clearly visible to drivers approaching from any direction, and some signs may have to be set at an angle to achieve this purpose.

Note that a traffic enforcer may apprehend you for violating any of the regulatory signs. However, only Land Transportation Office (LTO) officers and their deputized agents may confiscate your licenses pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 4136, or our Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

Hence, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic enforcers cannot confiscate your licenses. These MMDA enforcers may ask for your licenses when you violate a traffic rule but they cannot confiscate them if they are not authorized by the LTO or any local government unit. In MMDA vs Dante Garin (GR 130230, 15 April 2005), the Supreme Court emphasized that RA 7924 which created the MMDA did not grant the latter police power or legislative power to enact ordinances; and that the MMDA’s functions are administrative in nature.

Note, though, that traffic enforcers may confiscate licenses in the following exceptional situations: (1) the driver was involved in a traffic accident; (2) the driver has accumulated three or more unsettled violations; or (3) the driver has been apprehended for the following violations, among others: (a) allowing another person to use driver’s license; (b) broken taximeter seal; (c) driving against traffic; (d) driving under the influence of liquor or prohibited drugs; (e) fake or no valid driver’s license; (f) illegal or unauthorized counter-flow; (g) illegal transfer of plates/tags/stickers; (g) overspeeding; and (h) reckless driving.

Pursuant to LTO Memorandum Circular 515-2004 dated 25 May 2004, a Temporary Operator’s Permit (TOP) shall be used in the apprehension of all violations, and it is strictly required to be issued to the apprehended driver at the site and time of apprehension.

The TOP serves as a driver’s temporary license within 72 hours or three days only. An apprehended driver can settle his case within 15 days from the date of apprehension provided the apprehension is reported and encoded in the LTO-IT system.

If the apprehended driver failed to settle his case within 15 days from the date of apprehension, it may cause the suspension/revocation of his driver’s license.

The place of settlement of apprehension is indicated in the TOP (middle portion). Not all apprehended driver is allowed to settle his case in any LTO Regional/District Office. If he was apprehended within Metro Manila, he will appear at the LTO Traffic Adjudication Service, Central Office, East Avenue, Quezon City to settle his case, or at any concerned LTO Operations Division as specified in his TOP.

An apprehended driver may protest the violations specified in the TOP. This is a contested case, wherein the apprehended operator/driver signifies his intention to oppose the violations indicated in the TOP. It should be acted upon with dispatch by preparing the summons both for the apprehending officer and complainant. The apprehending officer shall be summoned at least once with proof of service for clarification purposes. Violation/s listed in the TOP and/or encoded in the LTO-IT system shall be dropped/dismissed provided that the apprehended driver/operator presents sufficient documentary evidence to warrant its dismissal and/or if the violations cited in the TOP are interrelated or common.

In our example above, say the No Entry or One Way signage was not visible to the driver, this may be contested by the apprehended driver.

Remember that having a driver’s license is a privilege. You have acquired your license based on your abilities and your agreement with the law. Thus, it is important for you to equip yourself with proper knowledge of your duties and rights as a driver.

All said, have a merry and safe holiday season ahead!

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