Dubai Traffic: Expect The Unexpected
By: Atty Barney Almazar
Don’t drive in Dubai unprepared. Most inexperienced drivers in Dubai find themselves burdened with additional requirements and legislation. With drivers from different countries and local driving styles, you need to expect the unexpected.
Obtaining a UAE Driver’s License
Only those on a tourist visa can drive using an international driver’s license. Once you’ve secured your residence visa, you will need to obtain a driver’s license from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
According to Article 51 of Federal Law No. 21 of 1995 as amended by Federal Law No.12 of 2007, a person driving without a valid license or driving a vehicle not specified in the vehicle category of his license may be sentenced to jail for a maximum term of 3 months and or fined. In certain cases, violators are banned from driving in the UAE.
Unfortunately, holders of a Philippine license are not allowed to transfer or exchange their valid license to a UAE license. They must take and pass a theory and practical driving test after completing 20 lessons for those driving for more than 5 years, or 40 lessons for beginners or with less than 5 years driving experience from an authorized driving school.
You should carry your license when driving. If you fail to produce your driving license during a spot check or road accident, you run the risk of being sent to court and have your car impounded. The fine is AED100 which can be reduced if you can take your license to the police within 24 hours.
The Traffic Police deals with violations of traffic offenses and fines enforced by the RTA. In addition to fines, a certain number of black points will be issued against your license for a particular violation such as illegal parking, over speeding, non-renewal of vehicle registration. For instance, if you put a child below 10 years of age in the front seat, you will get 4 black points. If the number of your black points exceeds 24, you will be banned from driving any vehicle for a year. Take note of the following essential rules of the road:
- The driver and front passengers must wear seatbelts.
- Do not jump red lights.
- There is zero tolerance on driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
- Do not use your mobile phone while driving.
- Park properly and observe time limits. The fine for illegal parking is AED200, while exceeding time limit is AED150.
- Vehicle registration card must be in your possession while driving.
- Observe speed limits which are clearly indicated on signs. You will be fined for over speeding as well as driving below the minimum speed limit. There are fixed and mobile radar traps to catch unwary violators.
- Always give way to pedestrian.
- Maintain your car in good condition. You will be fined if your lights are broken.
- Always keep your cool. Never make any kind of gestures even if someone cuts you up on the road.
- Do not exceed maximum seating capacity of your vehicle.
- You must get a Salik tag for your car. You will be fined if you pass a toll with no Salik tag or credit on your account
If you are involved in a road accident, you must call the police on 999 and await their arrival. You and the other driver will be asked to produce your respective licenses and car registrations. The police will do their investigation and determine who is at fault. If you receive a pink slip, it means you are at fault. On the other hand, a green slip means you are not at fault.
It is important to report an accident as car repair shops are forbidden to repair any damage, even a minor one, without a police report. Moreover, your insurance will likewise need the report when you claim for compensation.
If the accident involves injuries, loss of life, or driving under the influence of alcohol, the police may arrest the offender and recommend a filing of a case with the public prosecutor.
To find out if you have been fined, you will need to visit the RTA eServices website (www.rta.gov.ae) fines inquiry and payment portal. You would usually receive a notification by SMS from the authorities within 24 hours of being fined.
Before renewing your vehicle registration or driving license, you will need to clear all outstanding fines plus overdue penalty charges that are logged under your car plate and license.
2103 statistics show that more than 100 people died and about 800 others were injured in road accidents, most of which are caused by motorists driving at excessive speed, beating the red light and not giving way to pedestrians.
Always drive within the law not only because you will be fined but also to watch over your other road users’ safety.