• New law imposes stiff penalties on drunk, drugged drivers

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd has signed a law imposing stiff penalties on persons driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

    Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said the President signed Republic Act 10586, or the “Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013,” on May 27.

    The new law provides for mandatory alcohol and drug testing for drivers involved in accidents that result in injury or death.  A driver who refuses to take the test will have his or her driver’s license confiscated and revoked.

    The driver will required to attend a seminar on safe driving, “including the consequences of driving or operating a motor vehicle under the influence of the aforementioned substances,” Valte said.

    Law enforcers are authorized to conduct field sobriety, chemical and confirmatory tests on persons suspected to be driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, according to Valte.

    The apparent indications that may compel such tests are overspeeding, weaving, lane straddling, sudden stops, swerving, poor coordination or the evidence of smell of alcohol in a person’s breath or signs of use of illegal drugs.

    If a driver fails the sobriety tests, Valte said the law enforcement officer will test the driver’s alcohol level by using a breath analyzer. If the driver is believed to be under the influence of drugs, the officer will bring the driver to the nearest police station for a drug exam.

    Offenders who have not caused any physical injury or homicide shall be fined from P20,000 to P80,000 and face three months imprisonment.

    If the DUI results in injuries, the penalty will be a fine ranging from P100,000 to P200,000 and imprisonment from three months to 12 years. Driving under the influence that leads to homicide shall be fined from P300,000 to P500,000 or imprisonment from 12 years to 20 years.

    A non-professional driver’s license shall also be confiscated and suspended for a period of 12 months for the first conviction and perpetually revoked for the second conviction, while a professional driver’s license shall also be confiscated and perpetually revoked for the first conviction.

    The owner or operator of the vehicle driven by the offender shall also be directly and principally held liable unless he or she is able to convincingly prove extraordinary diligence in the selection of the driver.

    Valte said the Land Transportation Office will also conduct random terminal inspections and quick random tests of public utility drivers.

    Persons who will get or renew drivers’ licenses will also have to complete a course on safe driving and consequences of driving under the influence.

    To effectively implement the new law, she said the LTO and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will acquire breath analyzers and drug-testing kits.

    The law takes effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or in two newspapers, Valte said.

    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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