15th Jun 2017

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The June 2017 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (Revised IRR) for Republic Act No. 10913, also known as the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, is out, and will take effect fifteen (15) days from publication in either the Official Gazette or in any newspaper of general circulation.

Here are what you should know about the Revised IRR, to drive the Philippine thoroughfares “Distraction-Free”.

Previously, we featured an article about the not-so-new law which punishes distracted driving. You can view our previous article about distracted driving here. To summarize this law, a person caught running a vehicle while operating any electronic communications equipment such as a mobile phone, two-way radio, tablet, gaming console, computer, or even a calculator, is liable for “distracted driving” and may be penalized with increasing fines from P5,000.00 to P30,000.00 and/or suspension of the person’s driver’s license.

The implementation of the old IRR caused a stir among the Philippine driving public. The application of the old IRR and the guidelines issued by the Department of Transportation seemed to have varied the tenor of the law, including in the prohibition items other than electronic gadgets, such as rosaries and religious icons, placed in the vehicle’s dashboard. This generated confusion and drew criticism, not only from the travelling public, but also from both Houses of Congress. Thus, the Department of Transportation, responding to the call of Philippine legislators, deferred the implementation of the rules and regulations.

If you compare the old IRR with the Revised IRR, they are identical save for a few but notable changes, which hopefully dispel the confusion extant under the old IRR.

The Revised IRR added the following:

a. A motorist who is holding a mobile device, computer or gadget when the vehicle is running, or temporarily stopped at a traffic light or any intersection, is presumed to be engaged in distracted driving.

b. The Revised IRR allows the presence of mobile devices (cellphones, GPS devices, dash cams) on the dashboard provided that the highest point of the device does not exceed four (4) inches, measured from the dashboard.

c. The Revised IRR clarifies that the prohibitions apply to a vehicle in motion and those temporarily stopped at a traffic light or any intersection. A motorist may use a mobile devices provided the vehicle is a stalled vehicle, or one legally pulled over the side of the road.

d. The law also clarified that for violators of the law, driving a conveyance or machinery (such as a farm tractor) which does not require a driver’s license, the penalty would be impounding the conveyance or machinery in lieu of confiscation of the driver’s license.

If you are still distracted by the Revised IRR, here are the Seven (7) Commandments to distraction-free driving:

1) Do not text, play games, watch movies, or operate any mobile device while driving. If you need to call, use a hands-free device, or better yet, make the call later. An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of hassle that you might get into, when a traffic enforcer sees and accosts you, even if you are not violating the law.

2) When you are seen holding a mobile device or gadget while driving, but without using or operating the device, the traffic enforcers may legally presume that you are violating the law. It becomes your responsibility to prove that the device was not being used, in the manner defined in Sections 4(a and 4(b) of the Revised IRR.

3) Keep a ruler handy in your vehicle, as proof that the height of your mobile device, dash cam or GPS device affixed to your dash is four (4) inches or less, measured from the vehicle’s dashboard. Fear not, because rosaries, religious figurines, toys, trinkets and everything non-electronic that are on your dashboard are excluded from the coverage of the law.

4) If you are caught in heavy traffic and wish to fiddle with your phone while on the road, resist the urge and keep your hands where they are supposed to be – on the steering wheel. The traffic enforcers may not see you, but Big Brother looking at the traffic cams might.

5) If you wish to use your mobile device, be sure to pull-over on the side of the road, at a place where you can legally park. If your vehicle is blocking the road, or otherwise parked/stalled at a place where it is illegal to stop and temporarily park, you cannot use your mobile device. Of course, if you are really caught in a bind and your vehicle refuses to start, feel free to use your phone as this one exception to the application of the law.

6) You can legally operate your mobile devices while on the driver’s seat only during emergencies. Emergencies are defined as a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment. Even then, be sure that you are parked at a safe place when doing so. Remember, running late in a meeting is not an emergency.

7) Finally, if you intend to operate a tractor, farm implement, or other similar device, just be sure not to operate or hold your phone. Though you do not stand to lose your driver’s license if caught, you, however, stand to lose your ride.

Happy and distraction-free driving!

Nicolas & De Vega Law Offices is a full service law firm in the Philippines. You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. You may also call us at +632 4706126, +632 4706130, +632 4016392.

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