Driving-in-the-Philippines Tips and Tools

Driving in the Philippines – Know your driving laws

“Ignorantia juris non excusat” – Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. This “non-knowledge” of motoring and driving laws does not excuse anyone. There’s another reason why you should also know the law: So that corrupt MMDA or traffic police officers cannot put one over you.

If you’re driving or if you’re planning on driving in the Philippines, you must know what the laws are. You should also be aware of the protocol when an MMDA officer or a traffic police officer flags you down. NEVER ignore an officer when he/she flags you down. Please don’t think you can get away either. This isn’t the Fast and the Furious. Besides, have you seen the traffic along EDSA and other major roads? You cannot get away. They’ll just radio the guys at the next stop and then they’ll make sure that you stop.

On the flipside, you should also know the law and what the protocol is so that you won’t be fleeced or be harassed into bribery by corrupt officers. The standard protocol is that the officer will flag you down and will guide you to the side of the road where you won’t be a cause of traffic. They will have to inform you that you must not alight or go down your vehicle. They will ask for your license and verify your identity and check if you’ve had previous violations. They are not supposed to confiscate your license unless you are part of an accident or if you’ve had three (3) tickets that are overdue or if you fall under the following situations:

  • Allowing another person to use driver’s license
  • Broken sealing wire
  • Broken taximeter seal
  • Colorum operation (cargo/passenger vehicle)
  • Driving against traffic
  • Fake driver’s license
  • Fake/altered taximeter seal
  • Fake/altered sealing wire
  • Fast/defective/non-operational/tampered taxi meter
  • Flagged up meter
  • Illegal or unauthorized counter-flow
  • Illegal transfer of plates/tags/stickers
  • Joined/reconnected sealing wire
  • No driver’s ID
  • Ignoring Organized Bus Route (OBR) interval timers (for 2nd offence)
  • Skipping or bypassing designated OBR terminals or loading bays (for 2nd offence)
  • Operating on contractual basis
  • Out of line operation
  • Overcharging (with or without conductor) (for the 2nd offence)
  • Over-speeding
  • Refusal to convey passengers to destination/trip-cutting (Taxis and Public Utility Vehicles)
  • Refusal to render service to public (Taxis and Public Utility Vehicles)
  • Tampered sealing wire
  • Tampered taximeter seal
  • Tampering of OR/CR/CPC & other documents (spurious documents)
  • Undue preference/unjust discrimination
  • Using motor vehicle in commission of crime
crazypedestrian Driving in the Philippines   Know your driving laws

Photo from coolbeansmom.com

The list below is the official list of violations, the cost of the fines and who the subject is:

A. Violations related to licensing

Violations Penalties Subject
1 Driving without license P 750.00 Driver
2 Driving with delinquent, invalid. suspended, ineffectual, revoked or improper license P 300.00 Driver
3 Failure to show or surrender driver’s license for cause upon due demand by person with authority to confiscate. P 150.00 Driver
Failure to carry driver’s license when Operating motor vehicle. P 150.00 Driver
Failure to sign driver’s license P 150.00 Driver
4 Driving while under the influence of Liquor or prohibited drug P 2,000.00 DriverDriverDriver
For the 2nd offense, Fine plus 1 year Suspension
Subsequent violation Revocation of driver’s license
5 Allowing an unlicensed/improperly licensed person to drive MV P 750.00 Owner/Operator
6 Possession and use of fake driver’s license. If the driver has been issued an authentic license, the same shall be confiscated and suspended for 6 months in addition to the fine.
If the driver has not been issued an authentic license, he shall not be qualified to secure driver’s license for a period of six (6) months in addition to the fine
P 1500.00 Driver
7 Allowing another person to use his driver’s license – confiscation and suspension for one (1) month P 500.00 Driver
8 Use and involvement of MV by the driver in the commission of a crime-in case of court conviction, automatic revocation of driver’s license. P 1500.00 Driver
9 Student Driver operating a MV without being accompanied by a licensed driver. P 200.00 Student Driver

B. Violations related to registration.

11 Operating a MV which is unregistered/improperly registered delinquent or with invalid registration. If driver is also the Owner, MV shall be impounded until Properly registered P 450.00
P 450.00
12 Operating MV with unregistered substitute or replacement engine, engine block or chassis, change color, change body or configuration. In addition, MV shall be properly impounded until such parts are properly registered. P 500.00 Owner
13 Failure to carry in the MV the Certificate of Registration (CR) and Official Receipt (OR) (original or Photocopies) P 150.00 Owner
14 Operating/allowing the operation of MV with a suspended/revoked Certificate of Registration, P 450.00
MV impounded or its plates held during period of suspension / Revocation
15 Tourist Operating a non-Philippine registered MV beyond 90 day period of his sojourn. P 1500.00
MV shall not be allowed to operate until properly registered.

C. Violations relating to number plates and stickers.

16 MV number plates not firmly attached and visible. Dirty or uncared for plates.
Inconspicuously displaced plates in front and rear. NO STICKER showing current Registration
P 150.00 Driver
17 License plates different from body Operator number on Public Utility Vehicle P 450.00 Owner
18 Improper display of MV plates by owner (permanent) plates to accommodate a better display of commemorative/other plates. P 500.00 Owner
19 Display of expired commemorative/other plates P 200.00 Owner
20 Tampered/Marked plates/stickers P 300.00 Owner
21 a. Illegal transfer and use of MV plates/tags or stickers from one MV to another except security plates on authorized vehicle Owner/Operator are conclusively presumed to have caused or permit such illegal transfer and liable to fine.
Driver of MV involved in illegal transfer of plates
1 month suspension of driver’s license.P 7500.00 DriverOwner
b. If MV is used and involved in commission of a crime, P 10000.00
Penalty plus motor vehicle impounded.

D. Violations relative to equipment, parts, accessories, devices and marking of a motor vehicle

22 Operating MV with metallic tires on any public highway,
Defective brakes,
Improper/defective horn or signaling device,
Unnecessary lights visible in front of vehicle,
Missing or defective headlights/taillights,
Missing or red rear lights at both/each, side visible at least 100m from vehicle,
Missing or defective plate light,
Missing or defective brake lights,
Missing or defective wiper on the windshield,
Missing cut/disconnected muffler.
P 150.00 each Driver
23 Dirty/unsightly or dilapidated MV. In addition, confiscation of plates until defects are corrected P 150.00 Owner/Operator
24 Failure to paint or improper painting of authorized route or painting of unauthorized route of PUJ P 375.00 Owner/Operator
25 Non-painting of business or trade name. P 150.00
Confiscation of plates until defects are corrected.
26 a. Use of unauthorized improvised plates
b. Use of improvised plates to make MV appear as for hire.
P 150.00
P 1,500.00
27 a. Dirty and/or unsanitary defective unit
b. Without/defective hand brakes
c. Without or defective speedometer or tachometer
d. Defective or broken windshield
e. Without or defective windshield wiper
f. Without rear view mirror
g. Without interior light
P 150.00 Owner/Operator
28 Without name or business name and address inscribed on both sides of MV used for public services. P 150.00
Confiscation of plates until proper markings are made.
29 Without spare tire P 150.00 Owner/Operator
30 Unauthorized bell sirens or exhausts whistle on emergency. P 150.00
Said gadgets shall be confiscated.
31 Without red flag or red lights on projecting end of load extending more than a meter beyond the bed or body and in the evening, red lights visible at least 50 meters away P 150.00 Driver
32 Failure to paint appropriate body number on a MV for hire on both sides P 375.00 Owner/Operator
33 a. Failure to carry EWD
b. Failure to install EWD 4 meters away to the front and rear of the stalled/disabled MV.
P 100.00
P 300.00
34 Without capacity markings P 150.00 Owner/Operator
35 Failure to wear safety belt while operating motor vehicle or while riding on front passenger seat P 1000.00
P 300.00
36 Without permanent tail gauge or failure to put “NOT FOR HIRE” sign in a private jeepney/jitney P 300.00 Owner

E. Violations relative to weights and load limits.

37 Load extending beyond projected width without permit 200.00 Driver
38 a. Operating MV with wheel axle, or axle group loads in excess of the limits in Sec. 9, RA 4136 or any regulation without permit. P 150.00 Driver
b. Operating MV with total weight of cargo carrying device on passenger truck including cargo exceeding 100 kilos. P 150.00 Driver
c. Allowing more passengers and/or more freight or cargo in his vehicle more than the registered carrying capacity. P 150.00 Driver (If PUV, imposed upon Conductor)
d. Baggage or freight carried on top of truck exceeds 20 kilos per sq. meter and not distributed in such a manner as not to endanger the passenger or stability of the truck. P 150.00 Driver/Conductor

F. Violations relative to frauds and falsities

39 Use of invalid/ delinquent/ suspended/ revoked/ fake license, identification card or permit. P 1000.00 to
P 3000.000
40 Fake CR, OR, plates, tags or stickers/spurious documents P 1000.00 to
P 3000.000
41 Misrepresenting a copy of a document before the Traffic Adjudication Service P 1000.00 Owner/Operator/

G. Violations related to parking and drivers

42 Parking within an intersection
Parking on a crosswalk
Parking within 5 m. of the intersection of the intersection of curb lines
Parking within 4 m. of the driveway entrance to any fire station
Parking within 4 m. of a fire hydrant
Parking in front of a private highway
Parking on the roadway side of any unmoving or parked at the curb or edge of the highway
Parking at any place where official signs of prohibition have been erected
Allowing a passenger on top or cover of vehicle
Allowing a passenger to ride on running board, step board or
mudguard of MV while it is in motion
Disregarding traffic signs
Failure to use helmet while driving/riding a motorcycle
P 150.00 each Driver
43 Reckless Driving
– 1st Offense
– 2nd Offense and suspension of Driver’s License
– 3rd Offense and revocation of Driver’s License
P 150.00
P 750.00
P 1000.00
44 Arrogance or Discourtesy P 150.00 Driver
45 Failure to dim headlights P 150.00 Driver
46 Driving in slippers or sleeveless shirt P 100.00 Driver
47 Driving in a place not for traffic or parking in a place not for parking
Failure to give way to police or fire department vehicle or ambulance
Hitching or permitting a person on a bicycle or roller skates to hitch
to the vehicl.
P 100.00 Driver

H. Traffic Violations

48 Illegal turn P 150.00 Driver
49 Driving against traffic/counterflow P 2000.00 Driver
50 Illegal overtaking P 150.00 Driver
51 Overtaking at an unsafe distance P 150.00 Driver
52 Cutting an overtaken vehicle P 150.00 Driver
53 Failure to give way to an overtaking vehicle P 150.00 Driver
54 Increasing speed when being overtaken P 150.00 Driver
55 Overtaking when left side is not visible or clear P 150.00 Driver
56 Overtaking on a crest or grade P 150.00 Driver
57 Overtaking on a curve P 150.00 Driver
58 Overtaking at a railway grade crossing P 150.00 Driver
59 Overtaking at an intersection P 150.00 Driver
60 Overtaking between “Men Working” or “Caution” signs P 150.00 Driver
61 Failure to yield to the right of way P 150.00 Driver
62 Failure to come to a complete stop at a through street P 150.00 Driver
63 Failure to come to a complete stop at a stop intersection P 150.00 Driver
64 Failure to give proper turn/stop signals P 150.00 Driver
65 Illegal right turn P 150.00 Driver
66 Illegal left turn P 150.00 Driver
67 Failure to stop motor vehicle and apply handbrake when unattended P 150.00 Driver
68 Causing an obstruction to traffic P 150.00 Driver

As a rule of thumb, remember these:

1) MMDA officers are not allowed to group together in order to apprehend. They are not even allowed to stand together in groups of 2 or more. The only time they are allowed to work together is for special operations (probably when they apprehend groups of buses for smoke belching).

2) Swerving IS NOT a traffic violation. Moving one lane to the left or right is not swerving, no matter where on the road you do it. And it is even less of a violation when you do it with a signal. Swerving is defined as shifting 2 or more lanes very quickly. So you can argue your way out of this, and call the Metro Base for help.

3) Sadly, using the yellow lane is a traffic violation and will get you a ticket. However, buses are really not allowed to go out of the yellow lane, so if you see selective apprehension of private cars only, you may complain.

4) MMDA has confirmed that your license MAY NOT BE CONFISCATED at a traffic apprehension. The only time they can do so is if you are part of an accident, or it is your third violation and you have not settled your fines yet. They are only allowed to give you a ticket, which you can contest. He recommends actually receiving the ticket in some instances, so that you can report the officer who did it.

5) Also, you are free to ask any of these officers for their “mission order”, which is written by their supervisor. If they apprehend you for a violation that is not in their mission order for the day, you can report them and they will receive disciplinary action.

For more information and updates, please visit the official MMDA website here.

For urgent concerns and complaints , you may contact the MMDA at MMDA hotline (136) or call the METRO BASE at 0920 9389861 or 0920 9389875 and ask for an Inspectorate.

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