If you're driving a vehicle with both an AutoSweep RFID and an EasyTrip RFID, you don't really have to worry much about what we're going to write about in the next few paragraphs. Well, except if your RFID doesn't have load.
If your vehicle still doesn't have an RFID, you've got a bit more time now. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has just extended the original deadline making cashless payment (i.e. RFID) as the only method for driving on expressways. Instead of November 2, it will now be December 1; this follows after both major expressway concessionaires San Miguel (AutoSweep - SLEX, Skyway, STAR Tollway, TPLEX, NAIAX, MCX) and Metro Pacific (EasyTrip – NLEX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, CALAX, C5 Link) announced that they will continue to install RFID units on cars and eventually remove cash lanes.
But what if the December 1 deadline has passed and a motorist without an RFID on his vehicle unwittingly tries to enter an expressway that is already strictly implementing the RFID requirement?
The answer is simple: it's a violation.
According to Toll Regulatory Board Executive Director (ED) Abraham Sales via DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran, motorists without RFID come December 1 will be unable to enter the expressway as the “barrier will not rise”. Critically, ED Sales also stated that such motorists will be written up for traffic violations. The two violations mentioned include Disregarding Traffic Signs (DTS) and possibly Obstruction.
Under DOTr's Joint Administrative Order 2014-01, Disregarding Traffic Signs carries with it a PHP 1,000 fine. DTS will be the violation because the motorist will have ignored the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) or the RFID sign on top of the toll gate prior to entering.
Obstruction will also be a possible concurrent violation at the discretion of the ticketing officer as the vehicle would have blocked impeded the free passage of other vehicles. This means another potential PHP 1,000 peso fine.
So if you try to enter a toll gate from December 1 without ETC/RFID, you could pay either PHP 1,000 (DTS) if you're lucky, or PhP 2,000 (DTS + Obstruction) if you're unlucky.
We did, however, ask if there was another possible violation: Reckless Driving.
If you've ever been ticketed for Disregarding Traffic Signs (DTS), you'll know what we mean. Whenever a motorist is apprehended for DTS, there are times the traffic enforcer tried to lump it in with a Reckless Driving violation. Their logic is that by ignoring traffic signs, the motorist is operating the vehicle in a reckless manner. Double jeopardy, so to speak.
According to DOTr Asec. Libiran, the enforcer will be the judge of that at the street level. They're saying it really is at the discretion of the enforcer/marshal/officer/apprehending authority to judge the matter and see if a Reckless Driving charge is warranted. That in itself will be a more serious and more costly fine.
So if you haven't fitted your vehicle with RFID yet, at least there's an extra month to do so.
Update: SMC Autosweep RFID Operations Head Nelly Argota informed us that RFID installation will be ongoing beyond December 1 for motorists, but they may relocate the installation booths so as not to impede traffic flow into the expressway.