My nephew was recently arrested along with several of his friends after they were caught racing their motorcycles in a long stretch of empty public road early in the morning. A police patrol apprehended them and even impounded their motorcycles. They were accused of drag racing that allegedly violates a law. Is there really such a violation? Is drag racing really illegal? If so, what laws are involved here?
It appears that your nephew indeed violated the law when he participated in a drag racing on a public road.
Batas Pambansa BIg. 33, entitled “An Act Defining and Penalizing Certain Prohibited Acts Inimical to the Public Interest and National Security Involving Petroleum and/or Petroleum Products, Prescribing Penalties Therefore and for Other Purposes,” as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1865, penalizes drag racing. According to this law:
“Section 2 –Prohibited Acts. The following acts are prohibited and penalized:
(g) Speed contests and rallies involving mainly the use of motor vehicles, motor-driven watercraft or aircraft utilizing petroleum-derived fuels, including car and motorcycle rallies and drag racing, without the permit from the Bureau of Energy Utilization” (now the Oil Industry Management Bureau) Section 2(G).
The penalty for the violation of this law is as follows:
“Any person who commits any act herein prohibited shall, upon conviction, be punished with a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000, or imprisonment of at least two years but not more than five years, or both, in the discretion of the court. In cases of second and subsequent conviction under this Act, the penalty shall be both fine and imprisonment as provided herein.”
The Department of Justice even issued Advisory Opinion No. 01 (Series of 2012), wherein it discussed the legal implications of drag racing. According to the advisory:
“The harm caused by drag racing range from physical injuries and property damage in case of crashes, to damage to roads due to the excessive wear and tear induced by burning rubber. Other forms of collateral harm include noise pollution, vandalism and littering. Crimes associated with alcohol are also likely to arise, since many race contestants and spectators consume it within the vicinity of a drag racing event.”
The aforementioned advisory then opined that engaging in drag racing constitutes either a speeding or a reckless driving violation according to Sections 35 (a) and 48 of Republic Act No. 4136 which respectively state that:
“Any person driving a motor vehicle on a highway shall drive the same at a careful and prudent speed, not greater nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard for the traffic, the width of the highway, and of any other condition then and there existing; and no person shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway at such a speed as to endanger the life, limb and property of any person, nor at a speed greater than will permit him to bring the vehicle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.
“No person shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway recklessly or without reasonable caution considering the width, traffic, grades, crossing, curvatures, visibility and other conditions of the highway and the conditions of the atmosphere and weather, or so as to endanger the property or the safety or rights of any person or so as to cause excessive or unreasonable damage to the highway.
Based from the cited laws, it is clear that drag racing, when committed without permit on public roads, is illegal and punishable under the law. Thus, the authorities have legal basis to apprehend and punish those who will be caught drag racing under the aforementioned circumstances.
We find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org