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Law against driving while drunk or high takes effect on June 1

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on Friday released the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act, which penalizes motorists driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

With the IRR's publication on the government's Official Gazette on Friday, law enforcers can start implementing the law by June 1.

Jointly drafted by Transportation and Communications Secretary Jun Abaya, National Police Commission chairman and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Health Secretary Enrique Ona, the IRR limits the allowable blood alcohol level of private vehicle drivers to below 0.05 percent from the current 0.08 percent.

Drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) as well as motorcycle riders are prohibited from having any alcohol in their system when on the road.

“In the case of drivers of buses and other public utility vehicles, they cannot have any amount of alcohol in their blood at all, since people’s lives are in their hands,” Abaya said.

Under the IRR, a driver who is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol will be subjected to three field sobriety tests:

  • Eye Test (or “horizontal gaze nystagmus”), which requires the driver to follow with his gaze an object that the law enforcer moves horizontally about a foot away from the driver’s face
  • Walk-and-Turn Test, which requires the driver to walk nine steps forward in a straight line, turn, then walk back the same distance without difficulty
  • One-Leg Stand, which requires the driver to stand on one leg and raise the other around six inches from the ground for about 60 seconds.

If the driver fails any of these tests, he will then be subjected to an Alcohol Breath Analyzer or “breathalyzer” Test with the use of a gadget that can measure the blood alcohol level of a person through their breath.

Under the IRR, drivers found to have a higher blood alcohol level than the prescribed limit will be arrested and will have their vehicle impounded. If within the limit, the driver will only be given a traffic violation.

“In instances wherein a law enforcer has reasonable grounds to believe that the driver is under the influence of dangerous drugs or other substances, the driver shall be brought to the nearest police station, where he will be subjected to a drug screening test in accordance with existing laws,” the IRR states.

Meanwhile, drivers involved in vehicular accidents that result in death or physical injuries will undergo a mandatory alcohol and drug test.

The IRR also gives the Land Transportation Office the authority to conduct random tests on public utility drivers at transport terminals nationwide.

The penalties for violations of the anti-drunk-driving law range from a minimum of a three-month imprisonment plus a P20,000 fine to a maximum of 20 years in prison plus a P500,000 fine depending on the injuries caused in an accident.

Penalties also include a 12-month suspension of a non-professional driver’s license for the first offense and perpetual revocation for a second offense.

For professional drivers, the first offense alone will result in perpetual revocation of the license, the IRR said. — Elizabeth Marcelo/JDS, GMA News