Can Philippine Law Officers Confiscate Your Driver’s License?

The short answer, or so it seems, is no. According to Republic Act 4136, otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the authority to confiscate licenses is explicitly granted only to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and its deputized agents. 

Just recently, arguments about whether Philippine law officers can confiscate an LTO driver’s license has sparked debates, thanks to the memorandum released by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). While the LTO commended the move, stating that it aligns with their role as the primary law enforcement agency in charge of traffic matters and road safety, some local government units (LGUs) claim that they have the authority to do the same, as provisioned for by the Local Government Code. 

Can Philippine Law Officers Confiscate Your Driver's License

DILG Memo 01-2008

Well, according to the Memorandum Circular No. 01-2008 issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), it’s a no. The DILG’s memo is quite clear in saying that local government unit (LGU) personnel are prohibited from confiscating motorists’ driver’s licenses. It also clearly emphasizes that only the LTO and its deputized agents have the legal mandate to confiscate licenses from motorists who are caught violating traffic laws.

The LTO, in response, commended the DILG, saying that the job of confiscating driver’s licenses is right up their alley in terms of job description as they are the primary law-enforcement agency in charge of traffic matters and road safety.

Confiscation of LTO Driver’s License Will Continue in Manila City

Despite this, some local government units like that of Manila City, claim that local government authority affords them the legal authority to confiscate licenses as well. According to Manila City’s communications head, Atty. Princess Abante, the Local Government Code has provisions that give local government units (LGUs) the authority to “regulate their own traffic.” She also cited Ordinance No. 8092 of the Traffic Code of Manila City which allows traffic enforcers the authority to confiscate licenses under specific violations. 

QC Enforcers Will Not Take Your LTO Driver’s License

On the other hand, other LGUs, like Quezon City, have chosen to adhere strictly to the DILG’s memorandum, stating that their traffic enforcers will not confiscate licenses. “Samakatuwid, ihihinto na ng mga traffic enforcers ng Quezon City ang pagkumpiska ng mga lisensya,” says Quezon City local government. 

So, Can Traffic Enforcers Under the Local Government Units Confiscate your Driver’s License? 

Just to clarify, if you are asking whether traffic enforcers deployed by the local government units (LGUs) can confiscate your driver’s license, well, the answer to this question appears to be a resounding ‘no,’ as per the DILG memo and the legal opinion issued by the Justice Department. Apparently, this legal stance  is reinforced by the principle that specific laws, such as RA 4136, prevail over general laws like RA 7160 (Local Government Code). According to the legal opinion of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, he emphasizes the need for LGUs to follow the guidelines set by the joint memorandum circular of 2008 and the subsequent DILG memo in September 2022. Some laws do take precedence over other laws after all. 

So, Who Can Confiscate Your Driver’s License?

The authority to confiscate licenses is explicitly granted only to the LTO and its deputized agents by Republic Act 4136. These refer to the LTO officials and LTO-deputized officials who have mission orders which include the full details of their area of responsibility, time of duty, official function, and an indication of whether they’re authorized to issue tickets or confiscate licenses. They’re pretty easy to identify as, only those who are LTO deputized officials have the ability to issue a Temporary Operator’s Permit (TOP) which serves as a receipt in cases when a driver’s license is confiscated.

Pursuant to LTO Memorandum Circular 515-2004, a Temporary Operator’s Permit (TOP) is issued in the apprehension of all types violations, and it is strictly required to be issued to the apprehended driver at the site and time of apprehension. It does, after all, serve as a driver’s temporary license within 72 hours or three days only. Apprehended drivers are also allowed to settle his case within 15 days from the date of the last apprehension provided the apprehension is reported and encoded in the LTO-IT system.

Note that while the enforcers deputized by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) are out to maintain traffic order and safety, MMDA officials cannot confiscate licenses if they only have a traffic citation ticket. An MMDA officer is allowed to ask for your license if you violated a road rule, but they cannot confiscate it if they’re not deputized by the LTO. 

Do note that LGU enforcers do not have the legal capacity to confiscate driver’s licenses either, as the law is clear that only the LTO and its deputized agents can do so but only if they meet the standard requirements as well. Otherwise, it is possible to file for complaints towards non-compliant enforcers.

For MMDA Traffic Enforcer violations: Get the name of the Traffic Enforcer indicated on his/her name plate, and submit a letter of complaint within 5 days after the apprehension addressed to the following:
MMDA Technical Committee on Complaints (TCC)
Office Address: 3rd floor Traffic Discipline Office, MMDA Bldg. EDSA cor. Orense St. Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City
MMDA Hotline: 136
E-mail complaints against erring Traffic Enforcers: Include full details of the incident (attach photos or videos if possible), so that they will be able to act promptly on the matter.

For LTO deputized agents: You may reach out to the LTO via the following:
Land Transportation Office (LTO)
LTMS portal: Visit the LTO’s official website and fill out their Contact Us form at
Phone call: You may contact them at their telephone number (632) 922-9061 to 66.
Email: You may also send them an email at
LTO Text Hotline Service: You may use LTO’s nationwide SMS service for drivers and vehicle owners by typing LTOHELP and sending it to 2600
LTO office: For information, you may check with any of the LTO branch offices near you.
LTO Hotline: 1-342-586


So again, in case you still need to ask, LGUs and their traffic enforcers and even non LTO-deputized MMDA enforcers can only apprehend motorists for violations. Unless they are deputized by the LTO, are deployed with an official mission order, and given the authority to issue a Temporary Operator’s Permit (TOP), then there is no way that they can legally confiscate your driver’s license. They are not allowed to do so. This is an important thing to know, especially for drivers. After all, having such knowledge of the specific laws governing traffic violations and license confiscation is essential to skillfully navigating encounters with law enforcement officials. While debates may arise in certain areas, the prevailing legal stance emphasizes that the exclusive authority to confiscate driver’s licenses is retained only by the LTO and its deputized agents.

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