Watch the Road, MVP! Russ and the Anti-Distracted Driving Act

by: Mickey Ingles (Photo credit: @russwest44/IG)

If you’re a fan of Russell Westbrook, you’re probably following him on Instagram. And if you’re following the reigning NBA MVP on IG, you’ve probably seen him belting out Bill Wither’s Lovely Day while driving.

And if you’re a nerdy sports lawyer (who’s been looking for something to write about this month), you’re probably wondering, isn’t Mr. Triple-Double violating R.A. 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act (“ADDA”)?

Fine, he obviously isn’t. The fashionable Russ isn’t driving (or “stuck in traffic for hours” as we call it here in Manila) in the Philippines. Our penal laws, being generally territorial, won’t apply to him as he drives and grooves to Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It or INOJ’s My Boo somewhere in the US.

But let’s say that he were in the Philippines. Imagine it. You’re on your fifth hour on EDSA. And in the car beside you is Russell Westbrook, dressed to the nines, just losing it to a Taylor Swift song… and recording it on his phone for his 8.2M followers. And uh-oh, here comes Manong MMDA, trusty ticketbook in hand, nearing Russ’ car. Can Manong MMDA write Russ a ticket for violating the ADDA?

He sure can. Russ loses this one-on-one, for sure, ain’t no shammgod-ing around it.

The ADDA, as the name adroitly suggests, was passed to penalize distracted driving. But what is distracted driving?

According to Rule 2, Section 4, of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (“IRR”) of the ADDA, distracted driving means the performance by a motorist of any of the following acts, while driving:

  • Using a mobile communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, or to make or receive calls, and other similar acts; and
  • Using an electronic or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculation, and other similar acts.

So, Russ belting out his favorite Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood and recording himself while he drives is covered by the ADDA. While “recording oneself singing catchy pop songs and looking cool doing it” isn’t explicitly mentioned by the ADDA or its IRR, it will fall under the catch-all phrase “and other similar acts.”

(On a funny note, the ADDA even penalizes the use of calculators while driving—which makes me regret not treating my elementary mental math classes more seriously.)

But wait, it’s traffic, right? That means Russ’ car wasn’t moving, so he wasn’t technically “driving.”

distracted driving meme
am i rite? *high five*

Good try, but Russ will still be liable under the ADDA. The ADDA also covers instances when the car is temporarily stopped at a traffic light or any intersection. So, that covers drivers tinkering with their smartphones while waiting for the light to go green.

That said, Russ will be singing to the tune of a fine of P5,000 (around US$100) for his first offense. And if he does it a second time, he’ll be spilling out P10,000. That’s probably nothing for a man who earns around US$28,000,000/year, but be warned, Russ—if you get caught for your fourth offense, your license will be revoked! Not a good prospect, considering the problems Uber and Grab have had with the Philippine government.

Is there any legal way Russ can keep recording? There sure is.

First, Russ can pull his car over and do his thing and no one would bother him (except his fans who will probably mob him).[1]

Second, Russ can opt to use the hands-free function of his phone. However, he should make sure that his phone isn’t mounted in a way that interferes his line of sight.[2] That means his phone shouldn’t be more than 4 inches from his car’s dashboard.[3]

Third, he can get me to drive, while he sings and records to his heart’s content. I’m always willing to drive NBA stars around Manila, traffic or no traffic.

And hey, I like Taylor Swift too.

Mickey Ingles is the editor-in-chief of Batas Sportiva. He likes singing Hamilton songs in the car… without recording, of course.

[1] Rule 2, Section 5 (c), IRR.

[2] Rule 2, Section 5 (a), IRR.

[3] Id.

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