There is a saying that goes, ‘The law applies to all, otherwise, none at all’. Whether it’s a private individual or a civil servant, the rules of the land must be respected by all. Unfortunately, we don’t always see that in the real world. You really don’t have to look far to see examples of those who think they’re the exception, not the rule.
But over in the UK, not even the Prime Minister is exempt from the laws of the land. Recently, the BBC reported that Rishi Sunak was fined by the Lancashire Police for committing a motoring violation. The PM’s offense? He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in the back seat.
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Lancashire Police said that it fined a ‘42-year-old man from London’ for the said violation. Of course, Sunak could’ve denied it, but the Prime Minister immediately issued an apology following the incident. Besides, the Prime Minister was seen committing the offense in a social media video he had posted prior. Cue the Members of Parliament hurling words at each other in the aftermath. We won’t dig deeper into that because we already have a lot to deal with here in our own backyard.
So, the Prime Minister has admitted fault. How much does he have to pay to settle the fine? In England, the penalty for not wearing a seatbelt in a moving vehicle is about £100, or around P6,700 at current exchange rates. The maximum penalty for the violation is £500, or approximately P33,700.
For comparison, the fines here are at least P100 (but not more than P1,000) for the first offense, a minimum of P200 (but not more than P2,000) for the second offense, and P500 (but not exceeding P5,000) for the third and succeeding offenses. And if you’re caught more than three times for not wearing a seatbelt, you also face a suspended license for a week.
If you’re wondering if you can be fined for not wearing a seatbelt in the back seat in the Philippines, let’s consult Republic Act 8750. RA 8750 states the installation and use of adult seat belts in the front and rear seats of any private motor vehicle. Per Section 4:
Mandatory Use of Seat Belts. — For their own safety, the driver and front seat passengers of a public or private motor vehicle are required to wear or use their seat belt devices while inside a vehicle of running engine on any road or thoroughfare: Provided, That for private vehicles, except for jeeps, jeepneys, vans, buses and such other private vehicles as may be determined in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), front and back seat passengers are likewise required to use their seat belt devices at all times.
To be on the safe side (no pun intended), it’s best to buckle up when you see a seatbelt, whether you’re seated in front or at the back.