A couple of days ago, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) announced that all of its offices located in MECQ areas will be closed for the next two weeks. With it, those that wish to transact with the LTO will have to wait until August 19, 2020, for LTO operations to resume.

But what if your driver's license (or student permit) is due to expire during the MECQ period? Does this mean you'll have to pay the penalty fee for not renewing your license early on?

No need to worry as the LTO recently stated that no penalty fees shall be collected from expired driver's licenses. In a recent memorandum, the LTO said that the counting of the 7-day period for new registration transactions is suspended during the MECQ or ECQ period. And as mentioned earlier, no penalty fees shall be incurred by the license holder should they plan to renew theirs once MECQ or ECQ is lifted.

LTO: Licenses due to expire during MECQ/ECQ are still valid image

The LTO reiterated, however, that driver's licenses due for renewal can only be renewed without penalty if presented on the next working day when normal operations have resumed. This means, that the validity of expiring driver's licenses will become void once LTO operations in MECQ and ECQ areas are open once again. This also applies to those with expired student permits.

Now while this will be less of a hassle for motorists living in MECQ/ECQ areas with expired (or soon-to-expire) driver's licenses, we can't imagine all of them going to the renewal centers to have their licenses renewed immediately. With long lines expected to crowd LTO centers once MECQ is lifted in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, perhaps the LTO can extend the validity of expired licenses, much like what they did for the renewal of motor vehicle (MV) registration.

Still, at least the LTO decided to give those with expired permits/licenses the ability to drive even during MECQ. Let's just hope that LTO has a plan for the expected congestion at their renewal centers for those that wish to renew their licenses/permits without having to pay penalty fees.