Liability of the vehicle owner in the event of drunk driving

Dear PAO,

I own five vehicles registered as Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS). One of my drivers was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol. Can I be held responsible?

marchiano

Dear Marchiano,

Please be aware of Section 13 of Republic Act 10586, also known as the “Drunk Driving and Drugged Driving Act of 2013”, namely:

“SEC. 13. Direct liability of the operator and/or owner of the offending vehicle. – The owner and/or operator of the vehicle driven by the offender is directly and principally liable with the offender for the fine and award the offender civil damages unless he is able to show persuasively that he exercised extraordinary care in selecting and supervising his drivers generally and the offending driver especially.

“This section applies primarily to owners and/or operators of public utility vehicles and commercial vehicles such as delivery vans, freight trucks, container trucks, school and company buses, hotel transport, cars or vans for rent, taxis and Comme.”

In our jurisdiction, vehicles registered as TNVS are classified and regulated as means of public transport for which a certificate of public utility is required. (See Ministry of Transport and Communications Order 2015-011 of May 8, 2015) Therefore, they are considered public utility vehicles and are treated the same as taxis and rental cars.

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Pursuant to the foregoing provision, you may be held liable — directly and principally — together with the driver at fault for the fine and the award to the latter of civil damages, if any. Your defense is if you are able to prove that you exercised extraordinary care in selecting and supervising your driver.

We hope we were able to answer your questions. This advice is based solely on the facts you have related and our assessment of them. Our opinion may change when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily chronicle of the public ministry. Questions for Chef Acosta can be sent to [email protected]