Another try against Drunk Driving?
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The Department of Justice is supporting proposed bills in Congress seeking to impose harsher penalties on the crime of reckless driving. In response to a request for a legal opinion by committee chair Sen. Francis Escudero, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says the DOJ sees no legal impediment and has no objection to the passage of Senate Bills 169, 484, 956, 1307, 1339, 1988, 2078, 2215 and 2683, or the “Anti-Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Dangerous Drugs” bills.
The bill seeks to define as a crime the act of driving under the influence of alcohol and dangerous drugs and impose stricter penalties against violators. It aims to address the problem of drunk driving through a comprehensive systems approach, which includes driver education, mandatory alcohol and drunk testing of drivers involved in motor accidents, the establishment of drunk driving prevention fund for the purpose of funding the implementation of the proposed legislation, and the conduct of public information campaigns by alcohol beverage manufacturers about drunk driving and its ill effects. The bill also makes the owner or operator of the vehicle driven by the offender as directly and principally liable, together with the offender, for the damage and injury resulting from the incident, as well as for the fines against the offender for civil damages.
The DOJ also endorsed the passage into law of SB 2298 and SB 344 which respectively seek increased penalties for drivers and operators of common carriers operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs and prohibits the unlawful possession of an open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of any alcoholic beverage by a person in a passenger area of a motor vehicle on a public highway.
The problems, injuries and deaths caused by reckless driving as well as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is something that definitely needs to be addressed by the authorities. Strengthening existing laws is a start, but if those newer and supposedly stronger laws cannot be enforced because law enforcers, especially in the provinces, are not equipped well enough to be capable of stopping drunk and reckless drivers, as well as firmly and incontrovertibly establishing the state of drunkenness of these people that they do apprehend, then these new laws will never be able to achieve the desired effect of making our roads safer for the general public. Will these newer and supposedly stronger laws finally provide law enforcers all over the country with the proper teeth to be able to do the job properly? Only time will tell.*