New law punishes drunk drivers

People caught driving under the influence of alcohol and other dangerous substances can face up to P500,000 in fine along with jail time


MANILA, Philippines – Guilty of drunk driving? You could go to prison.

The Philippines now has a law condemning drunk drivers, after President Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act 10586 or an Act Penalizing Persons Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Dangerous Drugs, and Other Similar Substances on Monday, May 27, which gives law enforcement officers the power to imprison and fine drunk or drugged drivers.

It also allows the police to use breathalyzers and sobriety tests on suspected drunk drivers.

“Your law enforcement agencies are now empowered under this law to conduct field sobriety, chemical, and confirmatory tests,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters on Thursday, May 30.

“And if the driver fails, if the law enforcement officer feels that there is any indication that the driver is under the influence of the relevant substances, under this law he may pull you over, ask you to undertake a sobriety test, and if the law enforcement officer feels that you have failed a sobriety test, you can be now subjected to the use of a breathalyzer to determine the alcoholic content of your body at that particular time.”

Section 7 of the new law also mandates that all drivers involved in motor vehicular accidents, even if the person appears completely sober, will undergo alcohol and chemical testing.

“That will now be a staple,” Valte said. “Whether the accident has resulted in death or in physical injuries, it shall now be mandatory.”

Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs can range from P20,000 to up to P500,000 depending on whether the violation resulted in physical injuries or death.

It may also include imprisonment of at least 3 months if no one was hurt from the violation, but jail time rises depending on the damage.

The law calls on the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to deputize traffic enforcement officers and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in cities and municipalities to enforce the law, which will “take effect 15 days after publication either in the physical copy of the Official Gazette or in two newspapers of general circulation,” Valte said.

Police abuse?

Valte gave assurances the law enforcement officers would be trained to detect signs of people driving under the influence, and tried to appease concerns the police would use the Act to abuse innocent drivers in exchange for money.

She said some of the indication or manifestations police could stop drivers include “over speeding, weaving, lane straddling, sudden stops, swerving, poor coordination, or the evident smell of alcohol in the person’s breath or signs of use of dangerous drugs, and other similar substances.”

Valte vowed to tell MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino of concerns about the law such as added responsibilities for the officers on the road, kotong cops, as well as differentiating abrupt stops of jeepneys and buses with drunk drivers.

The new DUI law also mandates teaching information on safe driving and consequences of driving under the influence of substances, as part of its driver’s education course when getting a license or license renewals.

According to Section 9 of the Act, breathalyzers, drug testing kits and other equipment needed for the law will be funded by the Special Road Safety Fund for the LTO, while the PNP will fund it through the General Appropriations Act. –

Drunk Driving image from Shutterstock 

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