My son was flagged down for violating a city ordinance and committing a traffic violation last week due to his failure to wear his helmet. The apprehending officers argued with my son and insisted on arresting him. My son was able to present his driver’s license and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) official receipt and certificate of registration of his motorcycle. He was brought to the nearest police community precinct from the place where he was flagged down. Were the actions of the apprehending officers in accordance with our laws?
To answer your question, we shall refer to Republic Act 4136 or “An Act to Compile the Laws Relative to Land Transportation and Traffic Rules, To Create a Land Transportation Commission and for Other Purposes,” to wit:
“Section 29. Confiscation of driver’s licenses. – Law enforcement and peace officers duly designated by the Commissioner shall, in apprehending any driver for violations of this Act or of any regulations issued pursuant thereto, or of local traffic rules and regulations, confiscate the license of the driver concerned and issue a receipt prescribed and issued by the Commission therefor which shall authorize the driver to operate a motor vehicle for a period not exceeding seventy-two hours from the time and date of issue of said receipt. The period so fixed in the receipt shall not be extended, and shall become invalid thereafter. Failure of the driver to settle his case within fifteen days from the date of apprehension will cause suspension and revocation of his license.”
Furthermore, the Philippine National Police Operations Manual provides the procedure for flagging down vehicles:
“Section 11.7 Procedure in Flagging Down or Accosting Vehicles While in Mobile Car:
“j. Instruct the driver to turn off the ignition, if this was not done when the vehicle stopped; in case of motorcycle instruct the driver to remove the key and disembark;
“l. Talk to the driver in a most courteous manner and inform him of the nature of his violation. Demand to see the driver’s license, photocopies of the certiﬁcate of registration and the ofﬁcial receipt. Examine these documents and counter-check the driver on the information reﬂected therein;
“m. If it concerns trafﬁc violations, immediately issue a Trafﬁc Citation Ticket or Trafﬁc Violation Report. Never indulge in prolonged, unnecessary conversation or argument with the driver or any of the vehicle’s occupants; xxx” (Emphases supplied).
Thus, your son’s arrest and detention due to a traffic violation were not made in accordance with our traffic laws. Law enforcement officers should only require the driver to present his driver’s license and issue the LTO official receipt and certificate of registration of the car. Apprehending officers shall only confiscate the license of the driver and issue a corresponding traffic citation ticket to the said driver. The driver will have to settle his case within 15 days from the date of his apprehension to avoid suspension and revocation of his license.
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 further 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 [email protected]