Monday, March 7, 2016

Swerving is not necessarily a punishable crime unless it constitutes "reckless driving" under Sec. 48, RA 4136, Land Transportation and Traffic Code

EDMUND SYDECO y SIONZON vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 202692, November 12, 2014 

“x x x. 

In fine, at the time of his apprehension, or when he was signaled to stop, to be precise, petitioner has not committed any crime or suspected of having committed one. 

"Swerving," as ordinarily understood, refers to a movement wherein a vehicle shifts from a lane to another or to turn aside from a direct course of action or movement.25

The act may become punishable when there is a sign indicating that swerving is prohibited or where swerving partakes the nature of reckless driving, a concept defined under RA 4136, as: 

SECTION 48. Reckless Driving. – No 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. 

Swerving is not necessarily indicative of imprudent behavior let alone constitutive of reckless driving. 

To constitute the offense of reckless driving, the act must be something more than a mere negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle, and a willful and wanton disregard of the consequences is required.26

Nothing in the records indicate that the area was a "no swerving or overtaking zone." 

Moreover, the swerving incident, if this be the case, occurred at around 3:00 a.m. when the streets are usually clear of moving vehicles and human traffic, and the danger to life, limb and property to third persons is minimal. 

When the police officers stopped the petitioner’s car, they did not issue any ticket for swerving as required under Section 29 of RA 4136. 

Instead, they inspected the vehicle, ordered the petitioner and his companions to step down of their pick up and concluded that the petitioner was then drunk mainly because of the cases of beer found at the trunk of the vehicle. X x x. 

X x x.”


5 Land Transportation and Traffic Code:

SECTION 56. Penalty for Violation. – The following penalties shall be imposed for violations of this Act: x x x

(f) Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor x x x a fine of not less than one thousand pesos or imprisonment of not less than three nor more than six months, or both, at the discretion of the court.

6 Art. 151. Resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agents of such person. — The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who not being included in the provisions of the preceding articles shall resist or seriously disobey any person in authority, or the agents of such person, while engaged in the performance of official duties; When the disobedience to an agent of a person in authority is not of a serious nature, the penalty of arresto menor or a fine ranging from 10 to 100 pesos shall be imposed upon the offender.

15 SECTION 58. Duty of Clerks of Court. – It is hereby made the duty of clerks of the Court of First Instance, the City Court or Municipal Court trying traffic violation cases to certify to the Commission the result of any case, whether criminal or civil, involving violations of any provision of this Act or of other laws and ordinances relating to motor vehicles. Said certificate shall specifically contain the name of the driver or owner of the vehicle involved, his address, the number of his license and/or of the certificate or registration of his vehicle, and the date thereof, and the offense of which he was convicted or acquitted.

17 Sec. 50, Rule 130. Opinion of ordinary witnesses. — The opinion of a witness for which proper basis is given, may be received in evidence regarding —

(a) The identity of a person about whom he has adequate knowledge;

(b) A handwriting with which he has sufficient familiarity; and

(c) The mental sanity of a person with whom he is sufficiently acquainted.

The witness may also testify on his impressions of the emotion, behavior, condition or appearance of a person.

19 People v. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 175929, December 16, 2008, 574 SCRA 78, 90.

20 People v. Laxa, G.R. No. 138501, July 20, 2001, 361 SCRA 622.

21 Willy Tan y Chua v. People, G.R. No. 148194, April 12, 2002; Olimpio Pangonorom Metro Manila Transit Corporation v. People, G.R. No. 143380. April 11, 2005.

22 Balais v. Abuda, A.M. No. R-565-P, November 27, 1986.

23 G.R. No. 156320, February 14, 2007.

25 Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed. 1997.

26 Caminos, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 147437, May 8, 2009, 587 SCRA 348, 357.

28 Abenes v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 156320, February 14, 2007, 515 SCRA 690.

29 Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book II, 18th ed., 2008, p. 154 .

30 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article III , Section 2. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."

31 Ynot v. IAC, 148 SCRA 659.

33 Sec. 5. Punishable Act.- It shall be unlawful for any person to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, dangerous drugs and/or similar substances.

34 Art. 22. Retroactive effect of penal laws.- Penal laws shall have retroactive effect in so far as they favor the person guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in rule 5 of article 62 of this Code although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.

36 People v. Castro, G.R. No. L-42478 October 4, 1989.

37 People v. Dramayo, G.R. No. L-21325, October 29, 1971, 42 SCRA 59.

38 G.R. No. 135378, April 14, 2004, 427 SCRA 312.