No more drug test for driver's license

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 24 2013 07:10 AM | Updated as of Jun 25 2013 12:07 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A provision in the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that requires mandatory drug testing for those applying for drivers’ licenses has been revoked under the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Republic Act No. 10586 did not only remove a useless requirement for license applicants but also allowed motorists a respite from costly drug tests. The drug test costs more than P200.

Sotto, principal author of RA 10586, stressed that there is no more mandatory drug testing when one applies for or renews a drivers’ license.

“The new law expressly revoked Sec. 36 (a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which mandated the drug testing. The mandatory drug test has not served its purpose,” he added.

Sotto made the statement to make sure that the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and its satellite offices will follow the provisions of the new law to the letter.

“The conduct of drug tests should now be stopped by the LTO,” he added.

Sotto explained that the repealing clause in RA 10586 specifically stated that mandatory drug testing was among those deemed inconsistent with the new law, which President Aquino signed last May 30.

Under RA 10586, drug testing will only be conducted for those driving under the influence (DUI) as determined by law enforcement authorities based on certain manifestations, like over-speeding, weaving, lane straddling, swerving and others.

“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,” it read.

It also provides mandatory tests for drivers involved in vehicular accidents to determine if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Such cases allow for a more effective way of apprehending motorists under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Sotto said.

“We want a safer environment to everyone - drivers, pedestrians and the general public. Too many lives have been wasted and lost because of drunken driving or driving while under the influence of drugs,” Sotto said.

The law also states that those who refuse to undergo tests would be charged and fined accordingly. Tasked to implement RA 10586 include the Philippine National Police, and those deputized by the LTO.

Penalties for DUI range from three months in prison and a fine of P20,000 to perpetual revocation of the driver’s license, a fine of P500,000 and longer prison term.

Sotto pointed out that the mandatory drug test for license applicants is an ineffective requirement, citing data from the Department of Health and the Dangerous Drugs Board.

Records showed that out of millions a mere 0.06 percent tested positive in the drug tests conducted by the LTO from 2002 to 2010.

The statistics showed that users tend to abstain from drugs for several weeks before they renew their driver’s license, Sotto said.

“They are able to come clean during the drug test. It has led to a mockery of the drug test requirement,” he said.