Here’s why you should not be driving without a license in the Philippines

driving without a license

Driving a car can be fun for some and a need for others. However in both cases, what’s mandatory is a driver’s license. Yes, when you are out driving a car in the Philippines, no matter if it is for work or pleasure, what you need next to you is your LTO-issued driving permit. Take it as the next thing after fuel needed to be able to move along the four-wheeled drive.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Can the authorities confiscate my driver’s license?

    Yes, as per LTO, only LTO and its agents, including the MMDA and PNP-HPG, are allowed to confiscate someone’s driver’s license for the violation of traffic laws.
  • Can I get my driver’s license laminated?

    Yes, you can. However, do not carry a laminated photocopy of your driving license with you while driving, as it is not acceptable.
  • What will happen if I am caught driving without my driver’s license?

    If you are caught by a traffic enforcement officer driving without a driver’s license, you will be charged with a penalty of PHP 3,000.
  • Believe us, we can go on and on talking about how important it is for a driver to carry his/her driver’s license at all times. In case you are wondering why we are giving so much emphasis to it, just continue reading.

    However, before going into details, we’d like to tell you that whenever a driver breaks the law, the first thing a law enforcement officer would do is ask for the license. In case the driver is unable to present a valid license, he/she would be charged with hefty fines and penalties along with potential repercussions. But before we list all of it in detail, let us first have an overview of this government-issued document that everyone must carry while operating a motor vehicle.

    driving without a license

    Driver’s license & its types

    A driver’s license is equivalent to a legal permit that enables the holder to drive a motor vehicle. In the Philippines, the Land Transportation Office, popularly known as LTO, is the sole authority that issues driver's licenses.

    A license is essential regardless of the vehicle type, be it a car, truck, or scooter. It serves as proof that the person driving is physically and mentally fit to drive and has undergone proper training and several exams (written and practical) related to driving (including traffic rules and laws).

    In addition, a driver’s license in the Philippines is an important governing document that acts as valid ID proof.

    As for the types of driver’s licenses, LTO issues three kinds of license, each with its own set of eligibility requirements, qualifications, and driving restrictions.

    License Type

    Student Permit

    Non-Professional License

    Professional License

    Definition

    It allows the driver to drive a motor vehicle as long as there is a professional or non-professional license holder accompanying. Overall, it gives an individual a chance to learn driving but under supervision.

    It allows the holder to operate a motor vehicle for personal/private use only.

    It allows the holder to operate a motor vehicle in the Philippines for commercial purposes. Usually individuals with large commercial vehicles get a professional driver’s license.

    Apart from these three, there is one more driver’s license that is issued by not LTO but AAP (i.e Automotive Association of the Philippines), known as the Philippine International Driving Permit (PIDP). It allows an individual to drive internationally. However, to acquire a PIDP, the applicant must have a valid Philippine driver’s license.

    We have discussed the driver's license application process in the Philippines (for all types of licenses) in detail here. Also, note that there are various driver’s license-related exams and courses that an applicant should know about, information on which and more can be found here.

    Driver’s license Why must a driver carry it at all times?

    It is a fact that a driver’s license is a crucial document that an individual must carry when going out for a spin on the wheels. But the question is, why? The pointers below will answer the question -

    • First of all, it verifies the fact that the individual is compatible with driving. Also, it is proof that the individual has complete knowledge about driving a motor vehicle
    • Secondly, it is proof that the possessor adheres to all traffic rules and road safety standards
    • It is the first document a traffic enforcer asks for in the event of a traffic law violation. Failing to present a driver’s license will result in additional charges
    • Driving without a license is illegal and results in fine & penalty

    Driving without a license What will happen

    If an individual gets caught driving without a license by a traffic enforcement officer, here’s what will happen -

    • Whenever a driver violates traffic rules, the chances of being stopped by a traffic enforcement officer are pretty high. Once you are face to face with an officer, the first thing he/she will ask you to do is show your driver’s license. Why? One because it is illegal to drive without a license, and second, the officer needs the license to address the violation to you. You see, without a license, there is nobody to address the violation ticket to.
    • Next, you will be issued a ticket or your motor vehicle can be towed or impounded, depending on the violation

    driving without a license

    Driving without a license Penalties imposed by LTO

    The LTO imposes fines and penalties on individuals who are caught by traffic enforcement officers driving on the open road without a driver’s license. So, let’s check out the penalties one might have to face for violating the guidelines.

    Violation

    Penalty

    Driving without a license 

    PHP 3,000

    Driving with an expired license

    PHP 3,000

    Driving with a suspended, fake, or revoked license

    PHP 3,000

    An individual with student permit caught driving with someone without a non-professional or professional license

    PHP 3,000

    Driving with an expired or fake license

    The motor vehicle will be towed or impounded 

    Improper use of license

    Motor vehicle will be impounded 

    Expired Traffic Violation Receipt

    Motor vehicle will be impounded 

    Tampered driving license and registration documents

    Motor vehicle will be impounded 

    Did you know?

    Driving without a license in the Philippines will lead to severe consequences. However, did you know that there are a few other actions by the driver that are categorized under the same violation? Yes, you read it just right, and it is a good time to know about them to protect yourself from getting caught red-handed by traffic enforcement.

    The acts equivalent to driving without a license include all those instances when a driver is carrying the following instead of the original driver’s license -

    • Photocopy of the driver’s license
    • Laminated photocopy of the driver’s license
    • Screenshot/saved image of the LTO Digital ID
    • Saved image of the physical driver's license
    • Unclear photocopy/image of the QR code behind the temporary paper-based license

    Bottom line

    A driver’s license is proof that the individual carrying it is who they claim to be and that they are fit with all the know-how to drive a motor vehicle. Thus, the authorities must ensure every driver carries their original license. Remember, the intention is to make our roads safe and accident-free.

    Also Read: Navigating the Philippine driver’s license application process

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