• About time we had DUI law

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd recently signed the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013.

    It’s about time. A study shows that some five million of the Philippines’ population of 100 million are alcohol drinkers, many of them binge drinkers. No wonder then that we rank second in alcohol consumption among countries in Southeast Asia.

    The direct result: Drunk driving resulted in 8,175 fatalities in 2011 alone. The global record, according to WHO, is 2.5 million deaths.

    All other countries in the world passed laws decades ago penalizing driving under the influence. As usual the Philippines is late catching up. Well, better late than never.

    As far as we can determine, Canada had one passed in 1969, under which first offenders are fined $1,000 and one year driving prohibition. Those who are convicted for the second and third offense face a jail term of 30 days and two-year driving prohibition and 120 days jail term and 3 year-driving prohibition, respectively.

    The United States must have passed similar laws just about that time or earlier. It is in that country after all where the culture of drinking is most prevalent. All kinds of liquor are available there at all times. And of course people have the money to buy them

    We use the plural because different states have different laws. In California, for instance, drunk drivers are meted out stiff fines and jail time if convicted within ten years after the commission and conviction of the first offense. In Wisconsin, those convicted of the crime have their plates changed with one signifying they are drunk drivers.

    The law signed by PNoy provides a fine of up to P80,000 and imprisonment of three months. If the violation results in physical injuries, a fine of P100,000 to P200,000 is imposed. The fine can go as high as P500,000 if it results in loss of life.

    Of course, that is on top of jail time for physical injuries or homicide as provided for under the Revised Penal Code.

    Now, we just hope the law is enforced uniformly. This country is notorious for uneven enforcement of the law. The rich and the powerful are in the habit of flouting the law, and the traffic enforcers upon whose shoulder the implementation of the DUI law rests are powerless against them.

    The law itself is discriminatory, we’re afraid. Only upon conviction for the second time will a non-professional driver lose his license and be barred perpetually from driving.

    A professional driver is not given such leeway. His license will be confiscated and he will be barred forever from getting behind the wheel upon the first conviction.

    Lest anybody forget, professional drivers are those who earn their living driving taxis, buses, delivery trucks, and other public utility vehicles. Non-professional drivers drive their own cars and therefore, at least in the Philippine context, rich.

    Oh, yeah. The law fails to include flying under the influence.

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