The Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013 or DUI law has effectively repealed the provision of another law that requires applicants for a driver’s license to undergo drug test.
It was a position maintained by Senator Vicente Sotto and Senator Gregorio Honasan, who had a hand in crafting the DUI law.
LTO Chief Virginia Torres, however, vehemently disagreed.
Only when President Benigno Aquino 3rd announced, through a palace spokesman, that he was in agreement with the lawmakers did she relent.
Did Ms. Torres honestly believe that the requirement was keeping drug users off the road? Or was she merely protecting the interest of drug test laboratories that sprang up like mushrooms when the requirement was implemented some years back?
The drug test was supposed to flush out drug users. But it did no such thing.
A junkie chose the day and time when he would submit himself to the test. No wonder only 0.06 percent of the millions of driver’s license applicants tested positive from 2002 to 2010.
The primary purpose of the DUI law is to get drunk drivers off the road. If you notice, the law treats driving while under the influence of illegal drugs as a mere afterthought, although of course it carries a heavier penalty. Alcohol use is against the law only when you get behind the wheel. Illegal drug use is a crime, whether you drive or not.
The problem is drunk driving. In 2011 alone, drunk driving resulted in 8,175 fatalities. The global record, according to WHO, is 2.5 million deaths.
No one is going to miss the LTO drug test. As earlier observed, it was useless since illegal drug users simply waited for the time when the drug was flushed out of their system before going through the required urinalysis.
That is, if the test was conducted at all.
In most cases, no honest-to-goodness examination of the urine sample was made. All one had to do was pay a hundred pesos more than the official fee, ranging from P250 to P300, and the drug testing laboratory would issue the clean bill of health.
The police often apprehend habitual drug users on the road, and most flashed a license, presumably obtained after passing a drug test.
Usually drivers are stopped because they over-speed, weave in and out of the lane, or otherwise exhibit signs of alcohol or illegal drug use.
It is under those circumstances that alcohol and drug test must be conducted, not when a man or a woman applies for a driver’s license.
The loss of lives from drunk and drugged driving is rising year after year. That is why the DUI law, which prescribes long prison sentences and perpetual revocation of the driver’s license, is long overdue.
To be an effective deterrent, however, the DUI law must be applied indiscriminately on erring drivers, whether rich or poor, weak or powerful. Otherwise, it will become, like the drug test, another useless imposition.