Is NO-license driver AUTOMATICALLY criminally liable for car accident? Answer: No.

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has held that, although a violation of the Traffic Code (such as lack of license or overloading) gives rise to the presumption of negligence on the part of the violator, contributory negligence cannot be said to be present if there is no logical or causal connection between such traffic violation and the resulting injury. In short, even if one vehicle has no lights or exceeds the gross weight limit, if such has no relation to the accident, contributory negligence cannot be appreciated. Below is a quote from G.R. No. 119092 (December 10, 1998).

"First of all, it has not been shown how the alleged negligence of the Cimarron driver contributed to the collision between the vehicles. Indeed, petitioner has the burden of showing a causal connection between the injury received and the violation of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code. He must show that the violation of the statute was the proximate or legal cause of the injury or that it substantially contributed thereto. Negligence, consisting in whole or in part, of violation of law, like any other negligence, is without legal consequence unless it is a contributing cause of the injury. Petitioner says that driving an overloaded vehicle with only one functioning headlight during nighttime certainly increases the risk of accident, that because the Cimarron had only one headlight, there was decreased visibility, and that the fact that the vehicle was overloaded and its front seat overcrowded decreased [its] maneuverability. However, mere allegations such as these are not sufficient to discharge its burden of proving clearly that such alleged negligence was the contributing cause of the injury."

Reynold Villania, on his Facebook page, posted an amazing discussion on this question. Please read the full text of his explanation below.
TANONG: Sir, ako po ay traffic investigator ng aming estasyon. Hindi ko po alam ang gagawin ko sa isang kaso dahil dalawa ang bersyon ng mga kasama ko kung sino ang sasampahan ng kaso. Ito po ang nangyari. (QUESTIONSir, I am a traffic investigator in my area's police station. I don't know what to do regarding this one case where there are two versions of the story and we do not know whom to file charges against. Here's what happened.)

Isang Montero ang sumalpok sa Fortuner. Ang drayber ng Montero ay may lisensya at OR/CR na maybisa. Ang drayber ng Fortuner ay walang lisensya at wala ng bisa ang OR/CR. Subalit, nasa "right of way" ang Fortuner. (A Mitsubishi Montero crashed into a Toyota Fortuner. The Montero's driver has license and registration. The Fortuner's driver has no driver's license and expired registration. The thing is that the Fortuner was the one in the right lane during the accident.)

Ayon sa isang grupo sa estasyon, otomatik na dapat na makasuhan ang drayber ng Fortuner kasi nag maneho siya ng sasakyan ng walang lisensya. .Ayon naman sa isang grupo, dapat na kasuhan ang Montero sapagkat siya naman talaga ang puno't dulo ng aksidente. Paglabag sa trapiko lamang ang kasalan ng Fortuner at hindi dapat na makasuhan. (One group in the station says the Fortuner's driver should be held automatically liable since he has not license and registration. Another group says the Montero's driver should be charged because he is the root cause of the accident, further saying that the Fortuner's only liability is for traffic violation.)
SAGOT: Kung binasa natin ang Revised Penal Code Annotated, ibig sabihin iyong makapal na may mga paliwanag at halimbawa ( ito ang gamit ng mga abogado), at hindi iyong Codal, ibig sabihin, iyong teksto lamang (kadalasan gamit ng mga pulis sa training at sa estasyon), malalaman natin na ang basehan ng criminal negligence o reckless imprudence ay walang iba kundi - KAPABAYAAN o sa ingles IMPRUDENCE O NEGLIGENCE. Sa madaling sabi, kung sino iyong may kapabayaan base sa imbestigasyon ng pulisya, siya ang dapat na makasuhan. (ANSWER: If you read the annotated version of the Revised Penal Code, not merely the codal provisions, you will realize that the basis of criminal negligence or reckless imprudence is imprudence or negligence. In other words, whoever is found by police investigation to be negligent or imprudent should be the one charged of a crime.)

Sa ilalim ng Civil Code, ang isang drayber na may paglabag sa trapiko , halimbawa, walang lisensya ay "presumed" negligent. Bakit presumed? Kasi puwedeng mawala ang presumption kung mayroong siyang ebidensyang magpapatunay na wala siyang kapabayaan. Hindi sinasabi, mga kasama, sa Revised Penal Code na kapag ang draybey ay walang lisensya, siya na ang otomatikong may kasalanan. Itong paniniwala ay minana natin sa mga sinaunang imbestigador na walang legal na basehan. (Under the Civil Code, a driver who has committed a traffic violation - for example, havign no license to drive - is "presumed" negligent. Why "presumed"? This is because a presumption can be overturned by evidence proving he has no negligence. Law does not say, men, that a driver without license is automatically liable in a criminal negligence case. This belief has been passed down to us by ancient investigators without legal basis.)
Sa ating kaso ngayon, base sa kwento ng ating kasama, ang dapat na makasuhan sa ilalim ng Revised Penal Code ay ang drayber ng Montero, dahil lumalabas na sa kaniya ang kapabayaan kung bakit nagkaroon ng aksidente, kahit pa na mayroong siyang lisensya at OR/CR at ang Fortuner ay wala. Suportado rin ito ng isang kasong nadesisyunan ng Korte Suprema. Ngayun, kung gusto mong tiketan ang drayber ng Fortuner dahil sa traffic violation, puwede mo rin gawin yan. (In the case at bar, based of the facts given, the one liable under the Revised Penal Code is the Montero's driver, it having been found that he was the one at fault or with negligence causing the accident, despite the fact that the Fortuner's driver has no license or registration. This conclusion is supported by jurisprudence. Now, if you as a police officer or traffic enforcer choose to issue a ticket against the Fortuner's driver due to his traffic violation, be my guest.)

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