Monday, March 7, 2016

Poof of blood alcohol content in drunk driving cases under RA 10586


“x x x.

It cannot be emphasized enough that smelling of liquor/alcohol and be under the influence of liquor are differing concepts. 

Corollarily, it is difficult to determine with legally acceptable certainty whether a person is drunk in contemplation of Sec. 56(f) of RA 4136 penalizing the act of driving under the influence of alcohol. 

The legal situation has of course changed with the approval in May 2013 of the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013 (RA 10586) which also penalizes driving under the influence of alcohol (DUIA),33 a term defined under its Sec. 3(e) as the "act of operating a motor vehicle while the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level has, after being subjected to a breath analyzer test reached the level of intoxication as established jointly by the [DOH], the NAPOLCOM] and the [DOTC]. 

And under Sec. 3(g) of the IRR of RA 10586, a driver of a private motor vehicle with gross vehicle weight not exceeding 4,500 kilograms who has BAC [blood alcohol concentration] of 0.05% or higher shall be conclusive proof that said driver isdriving under the influence of alcohol. 

Viewed from the prism of RA 10586, petitioner cannot plausibly be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol for this obvious reason: he had not been tested beyond reasonable doubt, let alone conclusively, for reaching during the period material the threshold level of intoxication set under the law for DUIA, i.e., a BAC of 0.05% or over. 

Under Art. 22 of the RPC,34 penal laws shall be given retroactive insofar as they are favorable to the accused. Section 19 of RA 10586 expressly modified Sec. 56(f) of RA 4136. Verily, even by force of Art. 22 ofthe RPC in relation to Sec. 3(e) of RA 10586 alone, petitioner could very well be acquitted for the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, even if the supposed inculpatory act occurred in 2006.

X x x.”