Posted: August 08, 2012
This Advisory seeks to guide law enforcers, motorists and the general public on the perils to life and property of drag racing and the legal consequences of engaging in such an activity.
"Drag racing", when referring to motor vehicle/motorcycle speed contests done within a controlled and regulated environment, and adhering to safety standards, is not illegal when sanctioned. In the Philippines, there are automobile clubs and other sports associations which sponsor legitimate drag racing events in various race circuits.
However, when conducted in public streets, highways and other, thoroughfares without permits and without regard to the safety of: motorists, spectators and innocent third parties, drag racing becomes a punishable act.
Many drag racing activities in the past have been reported, and continue to be reported, especially in certain "hotspots" like Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City, Diosdado Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City and other major avenues in urban areas which are Wide and with sparse vehicular traffic fqr the 'conduct of unauthorized races. In some instances, these activities resulted in harm to persons involved in the race or not, and unduly puts at risk motorists who pass through the roads.
The hazards inherent in drag racing are not difficult to extrapolate: young, possibly inexperienced racers who are after the "thrill" of doing a risky and unlawful activity; improvised race cars not subjected to safety tests; spectators who, unlike in official race circuits, can watch the race in close proximity to the roads without the benefit of safety barriers; and race organizers who, in an effort not to attract attention, will not seek the assistance of paramedics or emergency responders in case of untoward incidents. Being a clandestine event, drag races are conducted late at night to evade the authorities and do not observe the same safety precautions that sanctioned races do.
The harm caused by drag racing range from physical injuries and property damage in case of crashes, to damage to roads due to the excessive wear and tear induced by burning rubber. Other forms of collateral harm include noise pollution, vandalism and littering. Crimes associated with alcohol are also likely to arise, since many race contestants and spectators consume it within the vicinity of a drag racing event1.
II. SUMMARY OF THE LAW
A. Land Transportation and Traffic Code
Under Republic Act No. 4136 ("RA4136"), otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, engaging in drag racing constitutes either a speeding or a reckless driving violation. Section 35 (a) of the law provides that:
[a]ny person driving a motor vehicle on a highway shall drive the same at a careful and prudent speed, not greater nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard for the traffic, the width of the highway, and of any other condition then and there existing; and no person shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway at such a speed as to endanger the life, limb and property of any person, nor at a speed greater than will permit him to bring the vehicle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.
On the other hand, Section 48 states that:
[n]o person shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway recklessly or without reasonable caution considering the width, traffic, grades, crossing, curvatures, visibility and other conditions of the highway and the conditions of the atmosphere and weather, or so as to endanger the property or the safety or rights of any person or so as to cause excessive or unreasonable damage to the highway.
Violators caught overspeeding will be made to pay a fine of P 1,200.00 (or P 2,000.00 if occurring in Macapagal Avenue). A reckless driving charge, on the other hand, shall merit a fine of P 500.00 (or P 2,000.00 if apprehended in Pasay or Parañaque).
B. Batas Pambansa Blg. 33
Batas Pambansa BIg. 33 ("BP 33"), entitled "An Act Defining and Penalizing Certain Prohibited Acts Inimical to the Public Interest and National Security Involving Petroleum and/or Petroleum Products, Prescribing Penalties Therefor and for Other Purposes", also penalizes drag racing. Section 2 (g) of the law prohibits:
Speed contest and rallies involving mainly the use of motor vehicles, motor-driven watercraft or aircraft utilizing petroleum-derived fuels, including car and motorcycle rallies and drag racing, without the permit from the Bureau of Energy Utilization [now the Oil Industry Management Bureau] [emphasis supplied]
According to Section 4 of the law:
Any person who commits any act herein prohibited shall, upon conviction, be punished with a fine of not less than twenty thousand pesos (P20,OOO) but not more than fifty thousand pesos (Pso,ooo), or imprisonment of at least two (2) YEARSbut not more than five (S) years, or both, in the discretion of the court. In cases of second and subsequent conviction under this Act, the penalty shall be both fine and imprisonment as provided herein.
C. Local ordinances
While the foregoing laws do not directly address drag racing, there are already several local ordinances passed by city and municipal councils expressly prohibiting it. The local legislative bodies of Carmona (Cavite), General Santos City, Gonzaga (Cagayan), Batangas City, Cagayan de Oro City and Dipolog City, among others, have all passed anti-drag racing ordinances within their jurisdictions, and provided their own penalties for violators.
In Metro Manila, the City Councils of Pasay and Paraiiaque have likewise legislated ordinances to penalize drag racing. These two cities have Traffic Codes that have common and identical provisions, namely, Section 30 on Speeding, Section 31 on drag racing and Section 57 on reckless driving. Of particular interest is the prohibition against drag racing which reads:
Section 31. Drag Racing/Speed Contest.
It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in, or to aid any motor vehicle, drag racing/speed contests or exhibition of speed, on any public or private street upon which City has been authorized to impose traffic regulations except as permitted by special ordinance of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
It is important to note that the ordinances of Pasay and Parañaque are both applicable to the Macapagal Avenue, which straddles both cities. Therefore, depending on which stretch of the said road violations have been committed, the applicable regime of penalties shall be enforced.
The Metro Manila Development Authority ("MMDA") has issued Regulation No. 11-003 series of 2011, fixing the speed limit for all types of vehicles plYing the Macapagal Avenue at 60 kmfhour. Pursuant to this, the MMDAissued guidelines harmonizing the said regulation with the ordinances of Pasay and Parañaque.
Under the MMDA Guidelines, depending on the attendant circumstances, violators caught exceeding the 60 km/hour speed limit in Macapagal Avenue shall be charged with either speeding, reckless driving or drag racing. The following penalties shall be applicable:
Speeding - P 1,000.00
Drag Racing - P 2,000.00
Reckless Driving - P 2,000.00 and traffic seminar
Speeding - P 1,000.00
Drag Racing - P 5,000.00 or six months imprisonment
Reckless Driving - P 2,000.00 and traffic seminar
Given the above, the following advisory points are issued:
1. DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN ANY DRAG RACING ACTIVITY.
Continued patronage is the foremost reason why drag racing events command a following, especially among the youth. Refusing to participate in any manner will spell the end of this illegal, hazardous and destructive activity.
One of the objectives of this Advisory is to inform the public that drag racing is an illegal activity with corresponding punishment. By emphasizing its illicit nature and the penalties attached to it, this Advisory seeks to discourage persons from engaging in drag racing.
2. IMMEDIATELY REPORT DRAG RACING ACTIVITIES TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES.
Organizers of drag racing events are conscious of the illegality of the said activities and take extra efforts not to attract the attention of law enforcers.
Due to the efforts of race organizers to keep drag racing events clandestine, the identification of drag racing "hotspots" becomes more difficult for authorities, and requires no less than round-the-clock surveillance on all major thoroughfares. For a constant monitoring of this scale, the assistance and vigilance of the public is indispensable.
Reporting signs of suspicious activities like a gathering of a sizeable crowd along with several race cars along a wide and open street can help law enforcers break up a planned drag racing event before it happens. Reporting an actual occurrence of a drag racing event will alert law enforcers and allow them to monitor the area closely in the future, to avoid recurrence. Those who hear of planned drag racing events from their social circles should immediately alert the concerned authorities too.
The public's vigilance and assistance is essential so that drag racing cannot claim another life or destroy another property in the future. Reports may be coursed through MMDA Hotline 136, or MMDA Trunkline 882-4154.
3. SHOP OWNERS SHOULD ASSIST IN EDUCATING RACING ENTHUSIASTS ABOUT THE HAZARDS OF DRAG RACING.
Shop owners are often tapped by racing enthusiasts to improve the performance of the latter's cars and make them race-ready, both in terms of mechanics and aesthetics. While these shop owners cannot prohibit their clients from using their remodelled cars in drag racing, they can at least educate them and warn them against the hazards of the said activity. For one, shop owners should promote only legitimate drag racing events sanctioned by sporting associations and held in race circuits, and not endorse those which are unlawful and unregulated. Even the mere posting of advisories and warnings inside shops can go a long way in discouraging drag racing.
4. PARENTS, SCHOOLS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS SHOULD EXERCISE INFORMAL CONTROL OVER DRAG RACING PARTICIPANTS.
Parents should strongly advise their children against participating in drag racing. Schools should likewise contribute to the education of the youth on the hazards of engaging in drag racing, and in irresponsible driving in general. In the study conducted by the United States Department of Justice2, it was even suggested that insurance companies should be trained not to honor claims from damages arising out of unlawful races. All these measures are geared toward providing deterrence against, and significant disincentives for, engaging in drag racing activities.
5. ENSURE THAT THE LAW IS MADE TO APPLY FULLY AGAINST VIOLATORS, AND THAT LAW ENFORCERS TAKE A STRONG STANCE IN APPREHENDING THEM.
As with any unlawful conduct, the deterrent effect of the law prohibiting it can only be achieved when violators are fully, promptly and completely held to account. The MMDA as the lead agency tasked to implement the traffic laws and rules in Metro Manila. should crack down on drag racers vigorously. Local officers of the Philippine National Police in cities or municipalities where anti-drag racing ordinances have been passed should likewise take a strong stance and apprehend all violators immediately.
Drag racing can be defeated if law enforcers pursue violators and members of the community (especially those who have been victimized) fully cooperate by filing timely complaints or supplYing information necessary for charges to prosper. Drag racing is a scourge that, with the help of the entire community, can be taken off our streets.
This Advisory is issued by the DOJ in line with its thrust to take a proactive stance and a dYnamic approach in criminal justice concerns. All are enjoined to disseminate and faithfully observe this Advisory.
LEILA M. DE LIMA
1 See report of Nathaniel R. Melican, Rick kids gang up on traffic aide who spoiled drag race, PHILIPPINE DAILYINQUIRER, 18 February 2012. The Chair of the Metro Manila Development Authority stated that he will request gasoline stations in the Macapagal Avenue area to ban the sale of alcoholic drinks since reportedly, "before the races, the drivers and other participants usually have a drink first at the gasoline stations".
2 Kenneth J. Peak and Ronald W. Glensor, Street Racing: Problem-Specific Guides Series No. 28, United States Department of Justice-Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services (December 2004), at pp. 19- 20.
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