Now that the landmark law Republic Act No. 10586, otherwise known as the “Act Penalizing Persons Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Dangerous Drugs and Other Similar Substances’’ or our DUI Law version is up for implementation around October, I feel we should all prepare for it. The recent brouhaha on the “Kasambahay Law’’ especially on the SSS, Pag-ibig and PhilHealth filing for our household-helps, has once more manifested how Filipinos in general are very law-abiding, though very last-minute oriented still. As we await the LTO’s Implementing Rules & Regulations (IRR) in the coming months, I think we have to do something ourselves to allay fears of being caught with this DUI violation. I know every partygoer who drives a car will be susceptible to this. While paranoia of police abuse of this law, which as mentioned in my column last week severely punish drivers caught with quick-triggered jail sentences and high monetary fines, will still linger, there are steps law abiding citizens can take to ensure peace of mind when faced with this situation.
Please find below simple guidelines for drivers who drink:
1. Find out the legal Blood Alcohol Content or Concentration (BAC) ceiling to be imposed by this law when the IRR comes out and is published.
BAC is the ratio of alcohol in ones blood and is measured by a breathalyzer. I feel the BAC will be from minimum of 0.05 (similar to countries like Australia and France) to 0.08 level (like the US). It is critical we know the limit of our DUI law. The original version, House Bill 7083 from 2010 pegged the BAC at 0.06.
2. Know and understand the BAC
. It is important that we know BAC differs person to person based on gender, weight, metabolism, hereditary factors, and even amount of food at time of drinking. So three bottles of beer may be below the BAC limit for one individual, and may actually be over for another.
3. Do not believe in myths.
Drinking water, coffee or tea will not dilute alcohol in the blood, and lower the BAC count. Instead it will only expedite the alcohol from stomach to the intestines, and into our blood.
4. Buy a breathalyzer.
I honestly think this is a `must’ buy for drivers who parties a lot and are on the bar scene constantly. There are several breathalyzer options available from eBay and probably nearby Hong Kong and Singapore. I am not sure we have this gadget in the country. On my recent web search, I even saw a breathalyzer that is an official iPhone accessory called Alcohoot. Alcohoot is made in Israel and plugs into the iPhone’s audio port to give accurate BAC reading. There are also many portable breathalyzer keychains, made in China that starts at only $40. These cheaper breathalyzers may however have issues on BAC measurement accuracy. There are two important justifications for buying a breathalyzer:
1) To find out ones BAC level based on ones regular alcohol intake.
For example you drink four bottles of beer on a given night. After the beer intake, take a breathalyzer test and find out the BAC level. If this level is very close to the LTO legal ceiling, then you will know that a 5th beer will go over. if you are drinking wine or spirits, do the same, and try to measure your BAC vis-à-vis the intake. As they say “pick your poison’’—just chart what you can handle before the legal limit is exhausted, and keep conscious count of the alcohol intake when you are out drinking
2) A handy breathalyzer is a great deterrent from the so called kotong (extortion) cops
. When you are pulled over during a routine check-point or for probable cause like for swerving, it is warranted that you have a breathalyzer in hand to show the police that you are well aware of the DUI law and the alcohol limits. In fact it is very possible that if the police see you with a breathalyzer, you may not even be asked to do the routine sobriety tests that come with suspicion of DUI.
5. Never take changes and be disciplined. It
is easier said than done to abstain from drinking in parties after one has exhausted the BAC limit provided by law, but this just has to be done. It is more advisable to pace yourself so your choice of alcohol can last you the whole party and still make you capable of driving without breaking the law. Do not force the issue as DUIs can not only be costly and unpleasant (jail sentence), your ultimate safety and those of the general public are also affected in case of unexpected accidents.
6. Rest and take your time.
While drinking water, coffee and tea will not help the reduction of BAC, time can. A one hour rest can shed off around 0.01 from the BAC count, provided no additional alcohol drinking happens.
7. Finally, the ultimate rule is if you want to drink more than the legal limit, then just leave your car parked in a safe place and take the taxi home.
It is always better safe than sorry, and when this landmark DUI Law, Republic Act 10586 finally gets implemented, rather than be sceptical about law enforcement, we might as well take matters into our own hands. So drive only when you follow the BAC limit on alcohol drinking, or simply add a driver to your payroll. We are all hopeful that this law will prevent car accidents and fatalities caused by drunk driving. Thumbs up to this goal for a better Philippines!
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I am a proud member of the Federation Internationale des Journalists et Ecrivains du Vin et des Spiritueux or FIJEV since 2010. You can also follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/sherwinlao.