Saturday, May 31, 2014

Drilon to drivers: Don't drive when drunk

MANILA-Following the full implementation of the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act this month, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon cautioned motorists against breaking the law to avoid being hit with a P20,000 to P500,000 fine and worse, imprisonment from three months to 20 years.

He said that "drivers should by now familiarize themselves with the rules against driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances."

The Senate chief stressed that the full implementation of the law is important in the light of a growing number of accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol and illegal substances.

“This Anti-Drunk and Driving Act which the Congress passed in 2013 aims to protect the motoring public and ensure the safety of pedestrians. So the public needs to know exactly the new regulations that will be enforced soon," said Drilon

But Drilon also warned against unscrupulous individuals who might use the law to harass and extort money from motorists and urged the PNP and the DOTC to come up with measures to ensure that the law will not be used for extortion by unscrupulous law enforcers.

Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations released by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) last week, Drilon explained that the implementation of the law lies with a deputized law enforcement officer (LEO), such as members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), who will be issued breath analyzers for the task.

However, Drilon said that the LEO’s powers to enforce the law have been strictly defined.

“A deputized law enforcement officer (LEO) cannot just stop and flag down any vehicle and then subject the driver to a sobriety test. In fact, an officer can only start screening the driver when there is reasonable ground to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, such as after they have committed a traffic offense,” he said.

Meanwhile, the regulations state that any apprehended driver will be subjected to three field sobriety tests to be conducted by the LEO: 1.) an eye test, where one must follow the object the officer moves a foot away from their face, 2.) a walk-and-turn test, where one must walk nine steps forwards and back, and 3.) the one leg stand, where one must stand on one leg and raise the other at least 6 inches from the ground and hold that position for 60 seconds.

The IRR provides that if the driver passes these tests, he/she will only be apprehended for his traffic violation only. However, if the driver fails any of the three tests, he/she will then be subjected to an alcohol breath analyzer test, where the LEO would determine the blood alcohol level of a person by testing his/her breath.

Drilon said that a major aspect of the law is the regulation limiting the allowable blood alcohol level to below 0.05% for most drivers. “But drivers of buses and other public-utility vehicles are now required to have no amount of alcohol (0.0%) in their blood, since people’s lives are at their hands everytime they get behind the wheel," he added.

The IRR stated that drivers who are suspected to be under the influence of dangerous drugs or other illegal substances will be brought to the nearest police station and subjected to a drug screening test, in accordance with existing anti-drug laws.

Drilon reminded motorists that penalties for offenders range from a minimum of  three months in prison plus a P20,000 fine, to a maximum of 20 years plus a P500,000 fine

“Meanwhile, non-professional driver’s license holders will also have their license suspended for 12 months on their first offense, and their second offense will get their licenses perpetually revoked. In the case of professional driver’s license holders, the first offense alone will result in their license's perpetual revocation,” Drilon said.

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