Do you drink and drive? LTO to train officers for tests

MANILA, Philippines – Traffic enforcement officers from different government agencies are set to undergo a training workshop starting Tuesday, March 10, two days before the Land Transportation Office (LTO) begins its breath analyzer tests on motorists suspected to be driving under the influence of alcohol.

LTO spokesperson Jason Salvador on Monday, March 9, said officers from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group, and local government units will begin training on Tuesday.

The officers will be taught the protocols and procedures in accosting suspected motorists and the proper way to conduct field sobriety tests, Salvador said.

Earlier, the LTO said 150 units of breath analyzer and drug testing kits will be distributed across the country, particularly in areas where incidents of vehicular accidents caused by drunk driving are high.

These breath analyzers will be used if the driver fails standard field sobriety tests. The tests include being able to stand on one foot without falling, walking along a straight line, and being able to follow a moving object with their eyes.

Drivers who violate Republic Act 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013, face fines ranging from P20,000 to P80,000 and 3 months imprisonment.

The amount goes higher – from P100,000 to P500,000 – if the offending motorist causes an accident resulting in physical injuries or even homicide.

Random tests

Non-professional drivers found guilty of violating the law will have their licenses suspended for 12 months for the first conviction, while professional drivers will have their license confiscated and perpetually revoked for the first offense.

Salvador said the deputized officers will be operating mostly at night, when most motorists drive home after late-night parties involving alcohol.

But he added that there will also be officers assigned in the mornings to follow the irregular work schedule of those coming from the business process outsourcing (BPO) industries.

In addition to the breath analyzer tests, the LTO will also be conducting random drug tests at the terminals of public utility vehicles, Salvador added.

The new tests come a week after lawmakers grilled LTO assistant secretary Alfonso Tan Jr on his agency's delay in the procurement of equipment and the deputation of officers to enforce the anti-drunk driving act.

During a meeting of the House committee on transportation last week, lawmakers asked why it took so long for the LTO to procure the breath analyzer and drug testing kits when the law was passed in 2013.

Tan explained that the law's implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were only passed in May 2014. The LTO then began the pre-procurement process last June 2014, and received the equipment last month.

The LTO official also came under fire from some lawmakers over the issue of deputation.

Tan had said that the LTO had not yet received a request from the MMDA and PNP for the deputation of personnel tasked to conduct the breath analyzer tests.

But Cebu 2nd district Representative Wilfredo Caminero, citing Section 10 of RA 10586, pointed out that the LTO should take the lead role and not wait for other agencies to submit their applications. – Rappler.com