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Councilor wants imprisonment for no-license driving

A city Councilor is proposing a jail term for driving without license.

Councilor Conrado Baluran, council committee chair on transportation and communications, said
driving without license should be considered as a criminal offense that carries stiffer penalty and imprisonment.

Per the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the penalty for non-production of driver’s license only costs P1,500. The city, through the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO), is imposing a cheaper P500 penalty, depending on circumstances including expired, suspended, revoked, failure to carry, or fake driver’s license.

Baluran proposes the initiative after finding out that the CTTMO recorded 9,042 No Driver’s License violation from September 2017 up to July 2019.

“One of the basic fundamental principles underlying to ensure the safety on the road is that every driver must possess a valid driver’s license equipped with the basic safety knowledge on traffic rules and regulations,” Baluran said in his privilege speech.

“But driving a motor vehicle is not a mere right, rather it is a privilege permitted only to those who have established accountability to abide by the rules of the road and are indicated that they will respect the responsibilities that driving necessarily encompasses. But it seems such given privilege were abused and undermine by our motorists,” he added.

The Driving without License violation ranked as among No. 7 among the 46 violations recorded by CTTMO.

“This surmounted statistic only proves that violators take this matter for granted, either the penalty is too cheap that they can afford to pay it repeatedly or a blatant no-show of respect to our traffic enforcers,” Baluran said.

“If smoking in public places is considered as a criminal act, then why not consider driving without a valid license as one, considering that the latter weights more when it comes to importance and necessity since it involves safety of lives and property,” Baluran added.

The councilor said for other countries, driving without a valid driver’s license is more than just a minor traffic violation but a serious criminal offense and the penalties are severe.

“For example, in New York, USA, the charge is considered a misdemeanor with fines of up to $500 dollars or equivalent to 250,000 thousand pesos and imprisonment of up to 30 days,” Baluran said.

“Though the right to operate a motor vehicle is granted by the state, and its use depends upon the motorist complying with the conditions prescribed in granting the license. We still need to impose penalties higher enough to prevent them from committing such violations out of fear and respect,” Baluran said.

The proposed local legislation was read on first reading and referred jointly to the Committees on Transportation and Communications, Rules, Privileges, Laws and Ordinances and Peace and Public Safety.

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