LTO's revised rules in the issuance of driver’s licenses

The revised rules governing the issuance of driver’s licenses aim to ensure the capability of the driver as well as streamline the application process. The reformed process is expected to take effect within the first half of November 2015, and will cover all four types of licenses.

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As part of its agency-wide reform program, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is set to implement the revised rules governing the issuance of driver’s licenses in the coming days, with the publication of five Administrative Orders (AOs) next week.
“The revised rules will serve two purposes: first, they will better ensure the fitness and capability of license card holders to drive on our streets; and second, they will streamline the application process and make it more convenient for the public,” said Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Jun Abaya.

The AOs will take effect 15 days after publication, or within the first half of November. They will cover all four types of licenses issued by the LTO, namely: 
  • professional driver’s licenses (PDLs); 
  • non-professional driver’s licenses (NPDLs); 
  • student’s permits (SPs); 
  • and conductor’s licenses (CLs).
Higher Standards, Stricter Rules for PDLs 
The LTO is imposing higher standards and requirements for professional driver’s license (PDL) applicants:
  • Applicants for PDLs to operate light vehicles must have had a valid SP for at least 6 months prior to the application. 
  • In cases of heavy vehicles, the PDL applicant must have either a valid NPDL for at least 1 year prior to the application, or a valid PDL to operate light vehicles for at least 6 months prior to the same.
Currently, a 5-month holder of an SP or a 4-month holder of an NPDL may apply for a PDL.
At the same time, the agency is tightening its eligibility criteria by disqualifying PDL applicants who have had two or more citations for reckless driving during the validity period of their existing license. This is meant to incentivize disciplined, law-abiding, and orderly driving among would-be PDL applicants.
These restrictions will apply to the four types of PDL examinations: those for tricycles, for light vehicles, for heavy vehicles, as well as for conductors.

More Convenient Rules on Medical Certificates 
For the convenience of applicants, the LTO will begin accepting medical certificates issued by any duly-licensed and practicing physician, instead of restricting these to accredited doctors stationed at LTO offices.
This will allow applicants to have themselves examined by a doctor of their own choosing, at a time and place convenient to them. However, the revised rules require that a medical certificate submitted during application should have been issued no more than 15 days prior. The LTO will not accept medical certificates which are over 15 days old.
For uniformity, the LTO will provide a Medical Certificate form which will be free of charge and will be available for downloading from the DOTC and LTO websites.  The form must state that the applicant is physically and mentally fit to drive, as well as the condition of their hearing and eyesight. 

Merit System for License Renewals 
The LTO will also implement a merit system to incentivize good behavior and disciplined driving among license holders. Currently, licenses have a 3-year validity period based on the license holder’s date of birth.
Under this new system, a PDL or NPDL holder who has not committed any violation during the 3-year validity period will be entitled to a 5-year validity period for their next license upon renewal. For those who have committed a violation, they will be eligible for the regular 3-year validity period only upon renewal.

Changes in the Application Process 
Lectures or seminars prior to the written and practical examinations will no longer be conducted by the agency. Instead, the LTO will release reviewers containing all possible questions to the public. The reviewers will be given to those who are issued SPs, and will be made available to anyone at LTO offices and on the websites of the DOTC and the LTO.
Applicants who fail the Basic Driving Theory Test and/or the Practical Driving Test twice shall not be allowed to apply for the same within a period of 1 year. An applicant who fails either of the tests for the third time will not be allowed to apply for a period of 2 years.
Lastly, the minimum age requirement for SPs will be raised from the current 16 years old to 17 years old. In the same vein, the minimum age for NPDL applicants will be raised from 17 years old to 18 years old.

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