April 22, 2024

Once upon a time in the highlands, two young lovers celebrating their engagement had one-drink-too-many and at top speed in a zigzag road, the car swerved, fell off a ravine, and both perished in the mishap.

When they arrived at the Pearly Gates, they were met by St. Peter who asked them if they had any concerns. Sheepishly, they asked for an audience with God himself, which was granted.

“God, we have been in love for so long and we never got to get married. Would it be possible to get married in heaven?” Of course, God said and he would get back to them.

After a few years, God summoned and told them that all is set and they will be married today, Sunday, the 18th of September with all the angels and saints of heaven present.

The bride walked down the aisle, elegant in a gown wearing something borrowed, something new, and something blue, while the groom looked splendid in a three-piece suit. It was an amazing ceremony and the reception was extravagant. The now married couple retired to their little slice of heaven to live out their afterlife together.

A couple of years went by and they had another audience with the Almighty. “God, we can’t stand each other anymore and would like to get a divorce. Can you help us?”

God looks wearily into his hands and says “Are you kidding me? It took me a while to find a priest up here, and now you want me to find a lawyer?”

Lesson of the story: Don’t drink and drive, or better yet, there really is no lawyer in heaven as they are all down there.

In my first year of law practice, I handled a de oficio case of driving under the influence.

The poor man, a jeepney driver and my lolo Celis of the Trancoville route, took a shot of gin for a night cap after making bayabas trips, running 12 hours straight.

Unfortunately, he was stopped at the checkpoint where the Baguio City Police Office Substation 2 now sits, and the police smelled the gin, arrested and brought him to the Baguio General Hospital where the medico legal certified “positive of AB (alcoholic breath)”, that is.

Charged in court, our defense was the “AB” was not sufficient as proof beyond reasonable doubt to convict him and when I cross-examined the cop if he conducted the “tandem gait” test on the driver, he said no because he did not know what that is and relied on the smell of the gin.

I explained that he should have asked the driver to walk in a straight line with one foot immediately in front of the other (heel to toe), arms down by his side to determine extent of intoxication. He did not, and the driver went scot-free, released by the judge who fully empathized with the driver.

It is not enough under the circumstances that you smell of liquor, but years after, Republic Act 10586 is now in play. It states that it shall be unlawful for any person to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, dangerous drugs and/or other similar substances.

Tests to be done to determine driver’s intoxication and use of dangerous drugs include the alcohol breath analyzer (ABA) test and mandatory drug testing. Unfortunately, until now, law enforcers have not been issued ABA kits, thus no convictions yet for drunk driving.

A driver under the influence of alcohol, dangerous drugs and/or other similar substances shall suffer super-stiff penalties. If the violation did not result in physical injuries or homicide, a fine of P20,000 to P80,000 and three months imprisonment shall be imposed.

If it resulted in physical injuries, the penalty provided in Article 263 of the Revised Penal Code whichever is higher, and a P100,000 to P200,000 fine but resulted to homicide, aside from the penalty in Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code, a fine ranging from P300,000 to P500,000 shall be imposed.

Aside from the criminal charges, non-professional drivers on first conviction will have confiscation and suspension of license for a 12-month period while a second conviction results into revocation of license. Professional drivers on first conviction are penalized with confiscation and perpetual revocation of license.
Don’t drink and drive. Better still, don’t drink at all.