Can a driver with incomplete fingers get a license?

Our legal expert weighs in
by Robby Consunji | Sep 23, 2018
PHOTO: Dinzo Tabamo
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My daughter just passed her non-pro qualifying exams today. She has also paid for it. Only belatedly to be told that she CANNOT be issued a driver’s license. The reason being she has only three fingers on each hand! I say this is plain discrimination and injustice. She studied and practiced driving for more than a year now. She has her palm and enough digits to manipulate her car’s steering wheel, gear selector and whatnots. I should know, when in the Philippines, I contentedly, confidently, proudly sit beside my daughter as she drives with ease. She owns and drives her own Mitsubishi Adventure.

What is the LTO's policy on this? Do they have one? Have they thought of these eventualities? If they can issue driving licenses to some individual with half a brain, I think PWDs should not be discriminated upon. Especially those PWDs who can perfectly function (drive).”

 

The Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (Republic Act No. 7277) provides that disabled persons shall be allowed to drive motor vehicles, subject to the rules and regulations issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) pertinent to the nature of their disability and the appropriate adaptations or modifications made on such vehicles. This law declares that the State policy is to promote the mobility of disabled persons.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (IRR) provides that any disabled person who desires to apply for a driver's license shall file with any LTO licensing center or district office an application form prescribed by the LTO containing certain information and compliance with the requirements hereinafter set forth.

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The Land Transportation and Traffic Code (Republic Act No. 4136) provides that every person who desires to personally operate any motor vehicle shall file an application to the Director or his deputies for a license to drive motor vehicles. But no person who is suffering from contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, and epilepsy, or who is an alcohol or drug addict shall be issued a professional driver’s license.

Pursuant to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, the LTO issued guidelines for the issuance of a driver’s license to disable persons (Memorandum Circular No. 94-188) in 1994.

To apply for a driver's license, the disabled person must comply with the following:

  • Secure a student permit and undergo driving instruction for 30 days.
  • Be at least 17 years old.
  • Submit a medical certificate indicating the physical or mental state of the applicant from an accredited LTO physician or government physician.
  • Take and pass written and practical examinations.

Only the following disabled persons may apply for a driver’s license:

  • orthopedically impaired person with amputated left or right leg
  • amputated left or right arm
  • post-polio victims with one paralyzed leg or,
  • weak legs but not paralyzed
  • partially blind person with no left eye, but good right eyesight, or no right eye, but with good left eyesight
  • speech and hearing impaired person unable to speak but can hear, or can partially hear

This list is exclusive, thus all other disabilities which are not in this enumeration are not entitled to driver’s license; as an example, a double amputee, or a totally blind person.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons states that all disabled drivers/applicants may use a customized vehicle provided that it meets the standard/specifications set and duly requested at LTO. However, the LTO Guidelines simply provides that orthopedically impaired applicants should only drive the customizable vehicle duly inspected and registered with the LTO and duly indicated in the driver’s license.

Unfortunately, the LTO Guidelines do not state the standards or specifications for a customized vehicle for the disabled person. As a result, the LTO has unlimited discretion to approve or disapprove a customized vehicle to be used by the disabled person.

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A disability is specific to the person concerned; it is not a standard condition among disabled persons. Thus, the car must be custom-designed for the needs of the individual driver. Occupational therapists specializing in driver assessment can advise on the modifications or aids applicable the disabled person and to the vehicle. In the absence of statutory standards, the LTO and the disabled driver will have to show that due care was exercised in design, manufacture and operation of the customized vehicle.

The LTO Guidelines imposes a limitation on licensed disabled persons. Upon securing a driver’s license, the disabled person is restricted to driving only during the daytime from 6am to 6pm. A violation of this limitation is not in the LTO list of traffic and administrative violations.

Our present law does not provided guidelines on how to address specific circumstances for persons with disabilities, such as the applicant with three fingers in each hand.

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PHOTO: Dinzo Tabamo
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