The hot topic in the local motoring scene is the launching of the 10-year driver's license.

After the many issues surrounding the implementation of the child seat law and the motor vehicle inspection system gave the Land Transportation Office (LTO) no gears except neutral, they finally have something many motorists can actually cheer about. The rollout will happen in the National Capital Region first (Hello Imperial Manila theorists) followed by the rest of the country in December.

This is good news but we needed to clear up some matters regarding the 10-year license, particularly with the fees. How much will a 10-year license cost? Will it be double the fee of the 5-year license?

Earlier in the day, we reached out to LTO chief, Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, and he replied that the "license fee for a 5-yr or 10-yr license is the same."

That's good news then. Motorists won't pay more to get the 10-year license as the fee will be the same as the 5-year license if you qualify for the longer validity because of your spotless record. There is another matter that needed clearing up: can a motorist who qualifies for 10-year validity actually opt for a 5-year license instead?

It may seem counterintuitive, but we ask that question because of the periodic medical check requirement that was pushed by the doctors at examination centers attached to LTO outlets. As we had reported before, those doctors had some reservations and objections to the 10-year validity on medical grounds. They argued that a lot can happen in 10 years and the fit-to-drive status of a licensee can change overnight, much in the same way that a negative COVID-19 test taken today can be positive if taken tomorrow.

They got their wish, and the LTO mandated that periodic maintenance -err, medical- checks be the norm not just during renewal, but at several points over the 10-year period. That's understandable on medical grounds, though it may be prudent to take the objection of the doctors with a grain of salt; they potentially stand to lose income with the implementation of the new extended license validity.

So we confirmed with the LTO chief if a motorist can opt for a 5-year license, and he said: "licensee can not choose."

That means if you qualify for a 10-year license, that means you will get the 10-year license and the periodic medical checks that go along with it after 4 and 7 years. Galvante clarified that a motorist cannot intentionally pick the 5-year license even though he/she is qualified for the 10-year license.

There you go. If you've already renewed and received your 10-year license from the LTO, let us know in the comments how it went, and how much you paid.