Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd on Sunday pushed for the scrapping of the Land Transportation Office (LTO)-mandated drug testing for driver’s license applicants, calling it an added financial burden and a failed anti-drug campaign of the government.
Sotto, the main author of the Senate’s version of Republic Act (RA) 10586 or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act recently signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, issued the clarification following the pronouncement of LTO chief Virginia Torres that the agency will insist on the retention of the drug testing requirement for driver’s license applicants.
According to Sotto, the enactment of RA 10586 has revoked a provision in RA 9165 of the Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, which required mandatory drug testing for those applying of drivers’ licenses.
The lawmaker was referring to subparagraph (a) of Section 36 of RA 9165 which states that “no driver’s license shall be issued or renewed to any person unless he/she presents a certification that he/she has undergone a mandatory drug test and indicating thereon that he/she is free from the use of dangerous drugs.”
He insisted that RA 10586 is clear that the provision requiring drivers to undergo mandatory drug testing had been removed and the LTO can no longer require applicants of driver’s licenses to submit a drug test certification.
Sotto, who also served as head of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) noted that that the mandatory drug test has become a waste of money for motorists as well as an ineffective requirement, according to the data from the Department of Health and the DDB.
DDB Data showed that out of millions of driver’s license applicants, a mere 0.06 percent were tested positive for drugs from 2002 to 2010.
The low figure, Sotto said, could be attributable to the fact that drug users already know what to do in order to pass the LTO drug test.
The lawmaker also cited that that accredited drug testing centers might not have the needed testing kits capable of tracing high-end narcotics like Cocaine, Ketamine, Ecstasy and Heroin.
Testing centers can only trace marijuana and methamphetamine on urine samples.
“The increasing number of vehicular accidents and road mishaps involving drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs refute the low positive results,” Sotto said.
He added that the mandatory drug test has not served its purpose.
Sotto, however, made it clear that the enactment of RA 10586 would not totally scrap the drug-testing requirement although it would now be on a case-to-case basis.
He explained that if the driver fails in the sobriety tests, it shall be the duty of the law enforcement officer to implement the mandatory determination of the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level through the use of a breath analyzer or similar measuring instrument.
Mandatory tests can also be done for drivers involved in vehicular accidents to determine if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.