When you visit the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to apply for a driver’s license in the Philippines, you will be reminded that acquiring one is not a right, but a privilege. The privilege, however, comes with restrictions in the form of license restriction codes printed on your LTO driver’s license.
The use of restriction codes has long been implemented by the LTO to determine what type of vehicles you are allowed to drive depending on your license type. To date, however, the numerical restriction codes no longer exist as they have been replaced by the new alphanumeric driver’s license codes (DL codes) which serve the same purpose as the old restriction codes.
LTO Restriction Codes (RC) vs. Driver’s License Codes (DL Codes)
Restriction Codes are part of the old system used by the LTO to show if a motorist can drive a motorcycle, motor vehicle, or from 1 to 8, which dictates what vehicle types the license holder can and can’t drive.
In August 2019, the LTO released the Memorandum Circular no. 2019-2174, which abolished the use of restriction codes. Instead they proposed the change to alpha-numeric codes which range from A to CE. And rather than restriction codes, they are now called Driver’s License Codes (DL Codes). The new DL codes also come with various subcategories called Vehicle Category codes which indicate the specific type of vehicle that the license holder may legally operate in the Philippines.
Both apply to non-professional and professional driver’s licenses in the Philippines and are meant to provide safer roads in the country by limiting incompetent drivers on it.
What is LTO Restriction Code 123
If you have secured a driver’s license in the past, you are most probably aware that in the old codes, having a code 1 in your driver’s license means you can drive a motorcycle, regardless of whether it has a sidecar or not. The same goes for restriction code 2 which means you can drive a car, regardless of whether the vehicle has a trailer or not. Meanwhile, license holders with restrictions 2 and 3 are allowed to drive both an automatic and manual transmission operated vehicle, regardless of all other things like Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and vehicle type.
Reading DL Codes
Under the new DL codes, the restrictions for the drivers were more specific. The DL codes, along with the vehicle codes, specify whether the vehicle is carrying a sidecar or trailer or not. It also specifies the weight and size, as well as the maximum achievable top speed. The new DL codes also take into consideration the type of transmission of the vehicle. In your license, it is reflected as AT for Automatic Transmission and MT for Manual Transmission. The codes also reflect whether or not you have a professional (PL) or non-professional driver’s license (NPL).
So, if you are a non-professional license holder who drives a standard motorcycle equipped with a manual transmission, your code should be A L3 NPL MT. Just like the existing restrictions, drivers like you who are allowed to drive manual transmission vehicles are also allowed to drive automatic transmission vehicles. Inversely, those who are allowed to drive automatic transmissions only, are not allowed to drive manual transmission vehicles.
Restriction Code 1,2, 3 and so on…
Here’s a table featuring the LTO restriction codes 1, 2, 3 up to 8 to simplify what are the allowed vehicles you can driver on your driver’s license.
|Motorbikes or motorized tricycles
|Motor vehicle up to 4500 kg GVW
|Motor vehicle above 4500 kg GVW
|Automatic transmission up to 4500 kg GVW
|Automatic transmission above 4500 kg GVW
|Articulated Vehicle 1600 kg GVW & below
|Articulated Vehicle 1601 kg up to 4500 GVW
|Articulated Vehicle 4501 kg & above GVW
If, in the old system, you can drive any kind of motorcycle with or without a sidecar if your license bears restriction code 1, then given the new code, your license should bear DL code A for motorcycles and DL code A1 for tricycles.
Each license also bears vehicle category codes which specify which type of tricycle or motorcycle can be driven with the license. Small motorcycles whose top speeds do not exceed 50 kilometers per hour, the DL Code would be A L1, however, a standard motorcycle which is capable of more than 50 kph, and is equipped with a manual transmission, the DL code should be A L3.
Meanwhile, if your license bears the old restriction code 2 to drive a car, then note that it has been replaced by DL codes B and B1 with an upgraded weight limit of up to 5,000 kilograms Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). Do note that an LTO driver’s license with a DL code B is only allowed to drive cars with up to 8 seats while those with B1 are only allowed to drive cars with 9 or more seats.
If you are driving a vehicle carrying goods, you may use either DL code B2 and/or C, depending on the weight of the vehicle. The B2 code is for vehicles weighing less than or equal to 3,500 kg GVW while C is assigned to vehicles weighing more than 3,500 kg GVW.
On the other hand, if you are set on driving buses weighing more than 5,000kgs with 9 or more seats, then you will need a license with a DL code of D. Lastly, DL codes ‘BE’ and ‘CE’ are for articulated vehicles like semi-trailer trucks and cars with trailers.
Given the new codes, motorcycles now fall under DL Code A. However, there are subcategories which have been determined by weight and size, as well as maximum achievable top speed. On top of the additional restriction codes on top speed and size,
Penalties and Fees
In the event of a checkpoint, observing the DL codes on your license is of utmost importance as officers usually ask drivers to present their driver’s license and the car’s OR/CR for identification. If the officer discovers that you are violating traffic rules by driving outside your restrictions, then you will be subjected to a Php 3,000 fine.
Sure, we know that the use of DL codes would take some getting used to, but compared with the old restriction codes, there is a more specific detail on the license card of the type of vehicles you can use. It also details the size and top allowable speed of the car you’re allowed to drive. Plus, it details whether it has automatic and manual transmission and whether the licensee is a professional or non-professional driver. Indeed, the new DL code is so much more specific so drivers and authorities can check whether there’s a violations.