For a very long time now, the only numbers in a Driver’s License Restriction Code that mattered would be 1 or 2, or both. If you have “1”, you can drive a motorcycle. If you have “2”, you can drive anything with 4 wheels (except trucks). If you have both, well, you can drive both.

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Today the Land Transportation Office released a memo that clarifies the meaning, and the subsequent importance of the Restriction Codes. While “1” solely deals with 2-wheelers, let’s have a look at 2 through 5, shall we?

Are you legally allowed to drive manual or automatic? image

Before that, though, we’d like to bring to light the fact that this clarification has been in existence since 29 August 2019. Under Memorandum Circular no. 2019-2174, we clearly see that 2 and 3, and 4 and 5 Restriction Codes correspond to specific vehicle transmissions.

Simply put, those with a 2 and 3 can drive cars with either a manual or automatic transmission, while those with a 4 and 5 are restricted only to cars with automatic transmissions.

Mind you, there is also an allowed vehicle tonnage that you are able to actually drive. Generally speaking, Restriction Code 2 will legally allow you to drive light commercial vehicles (LCVs) so long as you don't exceed 4500 kilograms GVW, or Gross Vehicle Weight. That means the total mass of the vehicle that includes the chassis, body, engine, driver, passengers, and maximum payload.

Generally speaking, the 4500 kilogram limit will allow you to operate vehicles like an L300, Kia K2500, up to most variants of a Fuso Canter; you'll have to double check the GVW rating on the registration papers to confirm. If your Restriction Code is 4, you can also operate those vehicles if they have automatic variants, though they generally do not. 

Restriction Code 3 will permit a driver, generally a professional one at this point, to operate larger and heavier trucks that come in the form of wing vans, dropside trucks, refrigerated vans and the like. These are vehicles that demand more special training and are much trickier to maneuver. Restriction Code 5 is the automatic transmission counterpart; while automatics aren't as prevalent in this type and size of vehicle, they do exist. 

Restriction Code 6, 7 and 8 are for articulated vehicles; that means vehicles that have joints. These RC's are for vehicles such as truck or tractor heads with any kind of trailer, construction equipment, payloaders that can bend, so on and so forth. 

Are you legally allowed to drive manual or automatic? image

If you find yourself in a spot (AKA lacking a Restriction Code), there is a way to add restriction codes. Depending on whether you are simply adding/updating your license or if you are adding Codes upon renewal, the fees do vary. What is standard is the set fee for each additional Restriction Code you are adding, which is set at PhP 100.

Not that enforcers will simply pull people over to check their license’s codes, but if you figure into a situation that may require you to show your license and they see that you are driving a vehicle that you’re not allowed to drive, then that may very well be a problem. It's best that you are not caught unaware because this has been in force since last year, after all.

Have you checked your driver's license already?