New driver’s license codes: What can you drive?

Published January 8, 2021, 3:52 PM

by Inigo Roces

Ever been caught for driving a manual without the restriction code for it? What kinds of cars are you allowed to drive anyway?

The old driver’s license (DL) and its restriction codes have been fairly simple, but unfortunately leave a lot of room for interpretation. This time around, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is updating its restriction codes to make it clear exactly what kinds of vehicles you can drive.

In the past, if you want to drive a motorcycle, you must have Restriction Code 1 on your driver’s license. If you want to drive a car, you must have Restriction Code 2 on your driver’s license. If you want to drive both, you need both Restriction Codes 1 and 2.

Now, the LTO is overhaul driver’s license (DL) restriction codes completely, replacing them with new driver’s license codes (DL Codes) with several subcategories to encompass all kinds of vehicles.

Restriction codes will now be listed in the back, on the same line as the kind of vehicles you’re allowed to drive.

As such, to know what you can drive, simply look for the alphanumeric codes on the right side.

New Codes

Under the new DL Codes system, motorcycles are classified as A, while tricycles are classified A1. Cars and light trucks are classified under B. There are even more vehicle categories under that, which indicate the types of cars and motorcycles each DL Code holder is allowed to drive (e.g., L1, L2, L3, AT, MT).

These new vehicle categories should cover many of the new kinds of cars, motorcycles, and tricycles that are now available in the country. These include new models with a symmetrical three-wheel layout like the Bajaj RE, Yamaha Tricity, and even small electric tricycles. It should also clear up any confusion as to what kind of DL Code and type of license is required to operate them on public roads.

So how is it changing? The old 2 code is now replaced with B and B1, upgrading the limit to 5000 kilograms GVW. B restricts the license holder to drive cars with up 8 seats. B1 is for cars with 9 or more seats. For vehicles carrying goods, the driver’s license must have DL code B2 (less than or equal to 3500 kg GVW) and/or C (more than 3500 kg GVW). Those that drive buses that weigh over 5000 kilos GVW and have more than 9 seats are restricted to D. As for cars with trailers, semi-trailer trucks, and other articulated vehicles, they are now classified under ‘BE’ and ‘CE’ accordingly.

New Conditions

Besides the codes, there are also conditions, which drivers with certain impairments or disabilities must meet at all times when driving. The LTO has made some adjustments to these as well. These conditions, formerly letters, are now numbers. The old condition A is now 1, which requires eyeglasses has been updated to corrective lenses, which means holders of this condition can drive while wearing contact lenses.

With the old system, those with upper limb disabilities had to drive with condition B, while those with lower limb disabilities had to drive with condition C. Now, they have both been merged into condition 2.

A new condition, 3, requires that a license holder drive a customized vehicle. This likely refers to a vehicle modified to compensate for a license holder’s unique impairments not listed in 1,2, 4, or 5.

Daylight driving is now condition 4. The hearing impaired (condition 5) no longer need to be accompanied by a person with normal hearing. They must just wear a hearing aid.

Examples

In case this is still all confusing, we’re providing some examples to make it easier to understand.

These are what these DL Codes should look like on your license. You’ll find them listed in the back of the license, with the allowed vehicles and conditions listed on the right side.

If the space on the right side does not have any alphanumeric codes, then you are not allowed to drive any of them.

Non-Professional, can drive automatic motorcycles only:

A:            L1,L2,L3-NP-AT

Non-Professional, can drive both light passenger cars (8 seats or less) AND motorcycles with manual:

A:            L1,L2,L3-NP-AT

Professional, can drive a manual symmetrical tricycle / three-wheeler (e.g. Bajaj RE, Piaggio Ape) only:

A1: L5-PL-MT

B:            M1,M2,N1-NP-MT

Professional, can drive light trucks for goods (4-wheels) with manual only:

B2:            N1-PL-MT

Non-Professional, can drive both automatic light passenger cars AND manual motorcycles, but need a hearing aid:

A:            L1,L2,L3-NP-AT, 5

B:            M1,M2,N1-NP-MT, 5

Professional, can drive manual tricycles only:

A1:    L4-PL-MT, 1

To drive a car with a trailer, one must secure a “BE” restriction on their license.

Non-Professional, can drive manual light passenger cars AND light passenger cars with trailers:

B:            M1,M2,N1-NP-MT

BE:          01-NP-MT

With these new sets of codes and conditions, the LTO hopes it will be easier for more drivers to understand what to apply for, as well as the limits to what they can drive.

Thankfully, the updated conditions also leave less room for misinterpretation when encountering law enforcement officers during traffic stops.

New driver’s licenses with these new conditions are already being rolled out. As such, if you don’t have these restrictions yet, you may get them during your next renewal.

 
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