Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Guide on Contesting a Traffic Ticket

To be able to drive a motor vehicle in the Philippines, you need to have a driver's license (DL) issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Once you have your DL, it should always be with you at all times whenever you are driving any motor vehicle wherever in the Philippines. If you are flagged down, the Traffic enforcer will usually asked for this along with the vehicle's Certificate of Registration or CR and Official Receipt of the CR or OR.

Photo of Traffic Aprehession c/o
As a driver in the Philippines, there will be an instance in your life where you will be flagged down by a traffic enforcer and accused of a traffic violation. Sometimes, you are guilty of the alleged traffic law violation but most of the time, you are not. Most of the drivers I know prefer slipping a hundred or two just to avoid the hassle of going to the LTO office, the bank for MMDA apprehensions or the City Hall for city traffic enforcer apprehensions to pay the fine, since this will entail slow service and long queue. As stories usually go, these officers accept these bribery.

Pink Copy of TOP
I am proud to say that am not one with the community in this corrupt practice. If I am wrong, I am wrong. I would usually tell the officer to just fill up the ticket and I will sign it. However, if I am not in the wrong and I believe that the officer made an honest mistake, I point it out to them. Or if I feel like I was flagged down in order for them to solicit cash, I usually tell them that I will contest the ticket. Most of them back down and act as if they have done me a favor by letting me go, but there are some few who would not and would even go as far as phishing for other violations that are unrelated to the violation you were flagged down for in the first place. (I have personally experienced this. I will post about it soon.) For these types of traffic enforcers, you are at their mercy, considering they exercise quite a wide latitude of discretion. So as an advice, just finish the conversation by saying that you will contest it. The officer will then write RTS which means “Refuse To Sign” on the portion of the ticket you were supposed to sign unto.

You will receive a pink copy of the Ticket or the Temporary Operator's Permit (TOP). DO NOT LOSE this TOP. This will serve as your temporary driver's license for a period of seventy two hours or 3 days from the time your license was taken. It is non-extendable.

You can only make a contest in the LTO main office or in the regional or district office having jurisdiction over the place you were issued with a ticket.

Now on to the steps of contesting.

1. Draft your written contest

There is no prescribed form for a written contest aside from the obvious fact that it should be in writing. However, I advise that you make it an affidavit. This will give more weigh to your written contest. In your written contest, narrate what happened, state the reason why the officer is wrong and place a prayer to have the allegations dismissed and your DL returned to you without paying any fine or penalty.

Attach a copy of the CR and OR of the vehicle you were driving at the time you were issued with TOP, the Official Receipt of your DL and your evidence, if any. The best evidence would be an affidavit of your passenger or a third party who personally witnessed the events that led to the issuance of the TOP. If you have documentary evidences to support your claim, then attached a photocopy of it as well. It is okay to do this since technical rules of procedure and evidence is not stringently applied in administrative proceedings like in LTO contest cases.

By the way, you have five (5) days from the date of apprehension to file your written contest. If you fail to file it within five (5) days, the violations stated in the TOP will be deemed admitted. You will have to pay prescribed fine within fifteen (15) days from date of apprehension. Furthermore if the charge against you is a moving violation, you will need to attend a seminar. Otherwise, your DL will be suspended for thirty (30) days.

2. File your written contest

Received Contest Affidavit
File your written contest, along with all its attachments, once it is ready. The clerk will receive the TOP along with your written contest and assign you with a case number. By the way, have a transmittal form and a copy of the written contest for the clerk to stamp it as received. The clerk will then submit your written contest to the Stenographer who will then set a case for a formal hearing.

Take note, you do not need a lawyer for the formal hearing but feel free to have one present during such if you have a lawyer relative or friend. Also, the stenographer will have to prepare and serve summons to you and the apprehending officer. A proof of service should be attached to the record. You will then receive a date when you will return to face the apprehending officer.

3. Attend the Hearing

Be present during the hearing. A Hearing Officer will conduct the hearing and accept evidence from both parties. He will evaluate the evidence presented by both parties and will make a recommendation. To win your contested case, what you need is substantial evidence. The Supreme Court defined substantial evidence as such amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.”

4. Wait for the Decision

Once the Hearing Officer is done with the weighing of the evidence of both sides. He will make a recommendation which will be submitted to the Traffic Adjudication Director or LETAS-in-Charge. The Traffic Adjudication Officer or LETAS-in-Charge will review the recommendation and eventually sign it. Once signed, it becomes the Resolution/Decision of your contested case.

5. Receive the Resolution/Decision of your case

You will receive a written resolution. The Resolution/Decision would either be in your favor or against you. It can be in your favor in two ways: you will pay nothing to get your DL back or you will pay a fine lesser than what is prescribed for the violation charged. If it is against you, you will have to pay the whole amount.

If you have to pay, you will have to pass by the Cashier who will issue you an Official Receipt upon tender of payment.

6. Get your Driver's License Back

Prepare the following before heading to the window of the Records Officer:
   a) Photocopy of the motor vehicle’s Certificate of Registration;
   b) Photocopy of the Official Receipt issued upon the registration of the motor vehicle;
   c) Photocopy of the Official Receipt issued upon the issuance of your Driver’s License;
   d) Resolution/Decision of your case; and
   e) Official Receipt of your payment of the fine and penalties, if any.

Submit the above-mentioned documents to the Records Officer and once the officer deemed everything is in order, your DL will be returned to you.

Some additional info.

If you lose the case, you will be directed to pay at the cashier before proceeding to the Record Officer. Now, if you really know that you did not violate any traffic law and that the Hearing Officer erred in his recommendation, then you can appeal it to the undersecretary of  LETAS. You simply tell the Traffic Adjudication Director/LETAS OiC that you will appeal it or better yet submit a notice of appeal. From here the next step will be to draft an appeal. Here you will have to state the grounds why you think that the recommendation is wrong and the decision/resolution should be set aside, vacated, dismissed. Attached the photocopy of the resolution and the records of the hearing.

Here you can either win or lose. If you lose, you can still make an appeal to the Court of Appeals then to the Supreme Court. A petition before ordinary courts entails the services of a lawyer though. So you can only hope that you win before you resort to a judicial action.

LTO Poster re
the processes
According to the LTO personnel I was able to talked to, the process stated above is usually done within one day. In fact, it is in the TOP last paragraph, section IV that the LTO will resolve the contested case within five (5) days from the filing of the written contest. The same is present in the 3rd paragraph of section V of the Department of Transportation and Communication Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01.

Lastly, the process is the same to all LTO Regional and District Offices.

Further readings:


  1. what will then happen to the officer that issued your violation? They should also be penalized. They have taken your time hassled.

  2. what will then happen to the officer that issued your violation? are They subject for dismissal to their service? why PD96 and RA4136 are conflict what rules or law shall we obey?

  3. great article....i need to write an article and cite this post as reference...