The Big Fuss about the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act: A Primer on Republic Act No. 11235

Based the posts and memes in social media, it appears that the big fuss about Republic Act No. 11235 (Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act) is centered on the new requirement for a bigger license plates for motorcycles. This new law, however, is more than the size and design of the number plate.

Coverage

R.A. 11235 covers MOTORCYCLES. The term refers to a powered 2-wheeled or 3-wheeled motor vehicle, including, but not limited to scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles with appendages such as sidecars, tricycles, or trikes.

Criminal Liability of the Owner

Failure to register a motorcycle. The owner of a motorcycle shall register his or her motorcycle with the LTO within 5 days from such acquisition of ownership. Failure to register within 5 days renders the owner liable for imprisonment of arresto mayor to prision correccional, fine, or both. 

  • “Owner” refers to any person who owns or is the registered owner of a motorcycle. Under R.A. 11235, “owner” also refers to any person who has actual control and possession of a motorcycle, whether it is registered or not.

Failure to report the sale of motorcycle. The owner of a motorcycle shall also immediately report any sale or disposition of his or her motorcycle to the LTO. Failure to report the sale renders the owner liable for imprisonment of arresto mayor to prision correccional, fine, or both. 

Failure to report the loss of number plate. The owner who fails to report a lost, damaged, or stolen number plate or readable number plate shall be punished with a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000. The mere failure to report is sufficient to render the owner liable (not required that the number plate is used in a crime). If the number plate or readable number plate of a motorcycle is lost, damaged, or stolen, the owner of such motorcycle shall immediately report the same to the LTO and the PNP through the Joint PNP and LTO Operations and Control Center, and request a replacement number plate. 

Failure to report the loss of motorcycle. The owner who fails to report a last, damaged or stolen MOTORCYCLE, and the motorcycle’s number plate or readable number plate is used in connection with a crime, shall be penalized with imprisonment of arresto mayor to prision correccional. The owner has 3 days within which to report that the motorycycle is lost, damaged, or stolen. 

  • Duration of arresto mayor: from 1 month and one day, to 6 months. Duration of prision correccional: from 6 months and one day, to 6 years.

Criminal Liability of the Driver

The driver of a motorcycle without a number plate or readable number plate shall be punished by prision correccional, or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000, or both. 

  • “Driver” refers to any person driving or controlling a motorcycle.

Other Criminal Liabilities Related to Number Plates

Erasing, tampering, altering, forging, imitating, covering, concealing a number plate or readable number plate, or the international use of such erased, tampered, altered, forged, imitated, covered or concealed number plate or readable number plate, shall be punished by prision mayor, or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000, or both.

  • The duration of prision mayor is from 6 years and one day, to 12 years.

If a person knowingly sells or buys an erased, tampered, altered, forged or imitated number plate or readable number plate, both such buyer and seller shall be punished by prision mayor. However, if the person who sell or buys the number plate proves that he or she has no knowledge that it was erased, tampered, altered, forged or imitated, he or she shall be punished by arresto mayor.

The use of a stolen number plate or readable number plate in a motorcycle shall be punished by prision mayor, or a fine not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000, or both at the discretion of the court. 

Bigger, Readable and Color-Coded Number Plates

The LTO shall issue a readable number plate for every motorcycle. The contents of the number plates shall be readable from the font, the back, and the side of the motorcycle from a distance of at least 15 meters from the motorcycle.

The law requires that the readable number plates must be displayed in both the FRONT and BACK sides of a motorcycle, yet it must be visible from the front, back and SIDE.

The LTO shall, in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR), determine the font style and size of the bigger, readable and color-coded number plates. The LTO shall also devise a color scheme of the readable number plates for every region in the Philippines where a motorcycle is registered for quick and easy identification.

Seizure of Motorcycles Without Number Plate

A motorcycle driven without a number plate or a readable number plate shall be stopped, and such motorcycle shall be seized by law enforcers and immediately surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP). 

The owner of such motorcycle may redeem his or her seized motorcycle from the LTO upon proof of ownership, payment of the costs of seizure, and compliance with a number plate readable or readable number plate.

Registry of Motorcycles

The LTO shall maintain a registry of motorcycles in a database to facilitate information retrieval for official investigation and law enforcement purposes. The registry of motorcycles shall include, but not limited to, the following information: name of motorcycle owner, motorcycle owner’s driver’s license number, motorcycle owner’s address and contact details, motorcycle identification number, motorcycle plate number, motorcycle body color, motorcycle brand/make. 

Increase of Penalties, Unregistered Motorcycles

If a motorcycle that is not yet registered with the LTO is used in connection with a crime, the maximum penalty of the relevant offense shall be imposed on the offenders. 

If a motorcycle is used in the commission of a crime constituting a grave felony under the Revised Penal Code, or in the escape from the scene of such crime, regardless of the stage of commission, whether attempted, frustrated, or consummated, the owner, driver, backrider or passenger or who participated in the same shall be punished by reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua. 

  • “Backrider” refers to a person or persons seated at the back of a motorcycle, or a passenger of a motorcycle.

If a motorcycle is used in the commission of a crime constituting a less grave felony or light felony or any other crime, or in the escape from the scene of such crime, regardless of the stage of commission whether attempted, frustrated, or consummated, the owner, driver, backrider or passenger who participated in the same shall be punished by prision correccional to prision mayor.

If a seized motorcycle is used in the commission of a crime, the maximum penalty of the relevant crime or offense shall be imposed.

If death or serious physical injuries, results from the unlawful use of a motorcycle in the commission of a crime, the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed.

Impoundment and Forfeiture of a Motorcycle

A motorcycle used in the commission of a crime or offense shall be impounded by the PNP as evidence in custodia legis in a secured impounding center provided by the LGU until the termination of the case. Such motorcycle shall then be forfeited in favor  of the government, unless the court finds that the defendant is not guilty of the offense charged or such motorcycle belongs to an innocent third party. 

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall ensure and enforce that all LGUs set aside land and establish a secured impounding center that shall be under the control of the PNP to store the impounded motorcycles. They shall also have a computerized/digitized data to see to it that all impounded or released motorcycles are duly recorded and such data shall be shared on a real-time basis to the Joint PNO and LTO Operations and Control Center. 

Prohibition on Sale and Importation of Non-Compliant Motorcycles

No person, whether natural or juridical, shall be allowed to sell motorcycles, unless such motorcycle has the capability to bear and showcase a readable number plate. 

Furthermore, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) shall not allow the importation into the country of motorcycles, whose design will impede the placement of the required number plate on the front and back sides of motorcycles firmly and securely. 

Any motorcycle which does not have any capability to bear and showcase the required readable number plate shall not be allowed to be registered with the LTO. 

Effectivity of R.A. 11235

After 31 December 2019, the penal provisions regarding the use of bigger, readable and color-coded number plates shall take effect. 

Motorcycle owners with number plates not in conformity with the provisions of R.A. 11235, shall renew their registration and apply for the required readable number plate not later than 30 June 2019.  

The LTO is given until 31 December 2019 to produce, release and issue the number plates as required by R.A. 11235. 

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