RA 3992: The Revised Motor Vehicle Law

Republic Act No. 3992, also known as “The Revised Motor Vehicle Law,” holds a significant place in the history of the Philippines’ Land Transportation Office (LTO) and its regulations. Enacted on January 1, 1933, this legislation marked a crucial amendment to Republic Act No. 3045, reshaping the governance of motor vehicles within the archipelago.

In here, we will explore the key provisions, changes, and subsequent amendments that have shaped the landscape of Philippine traffic laws over the years.

RA 3992 The Revised Motor Vehicle Law

The Birth of Republic Act No. 3992

At the heart of Act No. 3992 was the transformation of the Automobile Division into the Division of Motor Vehicles. This change not only reflected the evolving nature of transportation but also laid the foundation for a more comprehensive approach to regulating motor vehicles. The head of this division was now designated as the Superintendent of the Division of Motor Vehicles, a title that would play a pivotal role in the enforcement and administration of the law. 

Key Provisions of RA 3992

Republic Act No. 3992, enacted on January 1, 1933, is known as “The Revised Motor Vehicle Law” in the Philippines. The provisions of this Act include information related to the following:

Division of Motor Vehicles

Establishment and organization of the Division of Motor Vehicles, including the role of the Superintendent.

Licensing and Registration

Requirements and procedures for obtaining driver’s licenses and the registration of motor vehicles.

Traffic Rules and Regulations

Stipulations regarding traffic rules, road safety, and regulations for motorists.

Penalties and Enforcement

Outlining penalties for violations and the mechanisms for enforcement.

Amendments and Revisions

Provisions for amendments to the act over time, reflecting changes in circumstances or advancements in transportation.

Relationship to Previous Legislation

Clarification on how Act No. 3992 relates to and amends Republic Act No. 3045.

It’s important to note that Republic Act No. 3992, has specific provisions that provide more nuanced information about the regulations and guidelines established by the legislation which includes control over the registration and operation of motor vehicles; the licensing of owners, dealers, and chauffeurs; the carrying of lights on all vehicles; and all similar matters. 

Amendments and Evolution

Republic Act No. 3992 didn’t just get enacted. For over 30 years, the law existed as a guideline for transport regulation. Over the years though, several amendments were introduced to refine and adapt the legislation to the changing needs of society. Some amendments include Commonwealth Act Numbers 123, 548, 556, and 652, along with Republic Act Numbers 314, 587, and 2383, which played crucial roles in shaping the law. These amendments addressed emerging challenges, technological advancements, and the growing complexities of the motor vehicle landscape before it was repealed by Republic Act 4136, otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code in June 1964.  

Commonwealth Act Numbers 123, 548, 556, and 652

The amendments introduced through Commonwealth Acts addressed various aspects of motor vehicle regulation. They aimed to enhance safety standards, streamline administrative processes, and ensure the smooth operation of the Division of Motor Vehicles. As traffic patterns and the number of vehicles on the roads evolved, so did the legal framework governing them.

Republic Act Numbers 314, 587, and 2383

The subsequent amendments under Republic Acts continued the trajectory of refining and updating Act No. 3992. They responded to the dynamic nature of transportation, incorporating new technologies, and addressing emerging issues such as environmental concerns and traffic management.

Republic Act 4136

On June 20, 1964, R.A. 4136, otherwise known as the “Land Transportation and Traffic Code” was enacted abolishing the Motor Vehicle Office and creating the Land Transportation Commission. This law likewise partially repealed Act No. 3992. The Code provided that the Land Transportation Commission shall “control as far as they apply, the registration and operation of motor vehicles and the licensing of owners, dealers, conductors, drivers and similar matters.” To effectively carry out its mandate, the Land Transportation Commission later became the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and established numerous LTO offices in various parts of the country.

Republic Act 3992 vs Republic Act 4136

Republic Act No. 3992 and Republic Act No. 4136 are both significant pieces of legislation in the Philippines. While both played a crucial role in the regulation of motor vehicles and traffic in different eras, there are some slight differences between the new and the old law. Let’s compare the key features of these two acts:

Key Information about Republic Act No. 3992

  • Enactment Date: January 1, 1933.
  • Amendment of: Republic Act No. 3045
  • Renaming of Division: The Automobile Division was renamed the Division of Motor Vehicles.
  • Leadership Title: The head of the Division of Motor Vehicles was referred to as the Superintendent.
  • Amendments: Republic Act No. 3992 underwent amendments through Commonwealth Act Numbers 123, 548, 556, 652, and Republic Act Numbers 314, 587, and 2383.

Key Information about Republic Act No. 4136

  • Enactment Date: June 20, 1964.
  • Scope: Known as the “Land Transportation and Traffic Code,” RA 4136 is a comprehensive law covering various aspects of land transportation, traffic rules, and vehicle registration.
  • Creation of Agencies: This act led to the establishment of key agencies such as the Land Transportation Commission (LTC) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
  • Licensing and Registration: RA 4136 introduced detailed provisions regarding the licensing of drivers, registration of vehicles, and the issuance of license plates.
  • Penalties: The law outlines penalties for violations, emphasizing safety measures and responsible driving.

Comparison Notes between RA 3992 and RA 4136

  • Enactment Period

RA 3992 predates RA 4136, having been enacted in 1933, while RA 4136 came into effect in 1964, reflecting changes and advancements in transportation over the decades.

  • Scope and Detail

Compared with RA 3992, RA 4136 is a more comprehensive law, covering a broader range of topics related to land transportation and traffic rules. It addresses licensing, registration, penalties, and the creation of key agencies, providing a more detailed regulatory framework.

  • Evolution

While RA 3992 underwent amendments to adapt to changing circumstances, RA 4136 represents a more substantial legislative effort, incorporating a wider array of provisions to address the complexities of modern transportation.


As a predecessor to the current Land Transportation and Traffic Code (RA 4136), Republic Act No. 3992 has contributed significantly to the regulation of motor vehicles in the Philippines. For over 30 years, RA 3992, along with its amendments, laid the foundation, which later served as the basis for RA 4136 to expand and modernize the regulatory framework, and shape the contemporary landscape of traffic laws in the country. The legislation somehow withstood the test of time as it was incorporated into the new laws and adjusted for the changing landscape of motor vehicles and transportation. The continuous amendments to RA 3992 highlights the agency’s commitment to ensure a safe, efficient, and regulated motor vehicle environment in the Philippines. As we move forward, understanding this historical journey helps us appreciate the complexities and nuances of modern traffic laws, laying the groundwork for a more informed and responsible motoring community.

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