It took me almost an hour surfing the net and browsing through the websites of the Land Transportation Office (LTO),Philippine National Police (PNP-HPG),Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) looking for some hard facts and figures about how the country's 'anti drunk and drugged driving law' is doing as far as its implementation (or lack of it) is concerned and what have been the dire consequences of what appears to be a continuing unabated misdemeanor of many motorists. And sorry to say but it was indeed a futile search. In this digital age may I suggest these government agencies take a long deep look at their websites to find out how user friendly (or unfriendly) they have been designed or being maintained. To begin with, a working 'search engine' would do wonders to these websites.
Being in the midst of the Holiday Season's daily celebrations, I got so interested to find out how the government is doing in its mandated task to curb this very dangerous practice of many of us to drink to the limit, or most of the time way past it and wantonly go behind the wheel and drive.
In some news item that recently came out (which I wanted to confirm-reason for visiting the aforementioned websites), it was mentioned that, "more than 1,000 road accidents occurred with a drunk driver behind the wheel from January to October this year " , and that's quite alarming.
In the absence of hard facts and figures from our local government agencies, allow me to lift some from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the US Department of Transportation if only to show the vital importance of addressing the issue of drunk driving.
From as early 2010, the transport agency reported that, "Three people every two hours are killed in alcohol-related highway crashes in the US registering 13, 365 deaths. In addition alcohol-related highway crashes cost Americans $37 billion yearly."
The report added that from 1990 to 2009 a very significant decrease of 8.6 percent in deaths due alcohol-related accidents. This welcomed development was attributed to drunk driving awareness and law enforcement efforts and Zero Tolerance laws that included a substantial adjustment in the accepted level of Blood Alcohol Concentration limit from 2 to 0.08.
In the Philippines it was only in May 2013 when RA 10586 or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act was signed into law upon the legislators' long-delayed realization that the present law ruling the issue of drunk driving was close to being inutile and toothless. The drafting of the IRR ( Implementing Rules and Regulations) though took like eternity to finish and came out only this year, a good three years from the approval of the law.
The law has the Land Transportation Office (LTO) as the main implementing agency with the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Local Government Units (LGUs) deputized to assist.
Weighty penalties were designed for violators of the law. For example, holders of non-professional licenses on their first violation can be slapped a hefty fine of from P20,000 to P80,000, a 3-month jail term, and a year's suspension of license-any or all of these depending on the judge. A second violation could mean a perpetual revocation of license. Holders of professional licenses however on first conviction get the same penalties except that a revocation of license is implemented on the first offence.
Things get tougher when injury or death becomes a consequence of the driving under the influence of alcohol; like a steep fine of P100,000 to P200,000 and imprisonment in accordance to Article 263 of the Revised Penal Code depending on the graveness of the injury. But death could mean a fine of P300,000 to P500,000 and reclusion temporal or imprisonment of 12 to 20 years.
A motorist may be pulled over for a possible violation of the law when there's probable cause like irrational vehicle movement while on the road like weaving in and out of lanes, reckless driving, not stopping on a red light or over speeding. The initial action is to give the three standard field sobriety tests consisting of;horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye test), the walk and turn and the one-leg stand. If the suspected driver fails the tests a mandatory breath analyzer test may be conducted right where the driver was pulled over or if no breath analyzer is available the driver may be brought to the police station or a medical facility where it can be done.
Now, word has it that an agreement of collaboration between the deputized implementing agencies, the MMDA and the PNP to aggressively help the LTO to start getting strict in implementing the law starting next year.
But why only start next year?
By tradition and culture it is during theHoliday Season, when yearend bonuses abound whenPinoys drink the most to be really merry while New Year's Eve is a universal favorite. These are the days of the year when drinking is usually 'open season'. These are the critical days of the year when accidents due to drunk driving are just waiting to happen.
And these are the days when the authorities should be more vigilant and watchful to prevent road crashes due to drunk driving, whose inevitable consequences would count among them property damage, injuries and sadly even death. The authorities should do their job now and not to wait for next year to get these stupid drunk drivers off our roads before they kill our loved ones or us.
And for the person, who is aware of the legal implications and hefty fines for being cited for drunk driving not to mention its possible dire consequences to gamble on the chances of not being caught or not meeting an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol must be a moron in the truest sense of the word.
So please, don't be a moron. If you want to drink, have a designated driver or take a cab home. Drink to heart's delight, but please, don't you dare drive-DON'T BE A MORON.
Happy Motoring and Happy New Year!!!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.
At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network’s AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart’s middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN’s DZYL and DZQL.
From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.
In the early 70’s, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).
In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports’ living legend Pocholo Ramirez.
After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN’s Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable’s Channel 13.
The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport’s hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.
In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry’s latest technological developments.
In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star’s business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.
Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.
Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)