A simple way to spot a fake

As a motorist, you may have already noticed that a lot of drivers and motorcycle riders on the road are very undisciplined. I have to admit though that I am no saint either.

But some of these drivers have absolutely no knowledge of the rules nor regard for other road users; practically accidents waiting to happen. There are many causes for their unruly behavior, but typically, it might be because these riders or drivers didn’t go through the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) proper licensing protocols. These days, that requires them to undergo a Theoretical Driving Course or TDC. In addition, any legitimate license holder is also scared of accruing demerits that can lengthen the hours of the theoretical driving course.

So where did they get their driver’s license? The answer: through talahib. “Talahib” is slang for tall grass that grows in untended lots or fields. Areas with talahib are often seen by Filipinos as shady or suspicious areas. In this context, it means that someone got his or her documents through illegitimate sources. These are likely from places like Recto Street (known for the many proprietors of forged documents in this area) or fixers that have access to the means to falsify documents and IDs.

In the video above that recently went viral on social media, a Manila City traffic enforcer claimed that the driver he flagged down presented a suspicious driver’s license, meaning it was fake.

The video may look like it was shot pre-pandemic as no one appears to be wearing a facemask. As such, we had to ask our friends from the LTO to verify if this is true.

According to our LTO insider, a driver’s license issued by the agency, by design, has many features that would tell law enforcers its authenticity.

“Just like paper money issued by the Central Bank, the driver’s license [also] has features that make it difficult to replicate by fraudsters,” said the LTO insider.

And yes, as the LTO insider confirmed, one of the simplest ways to test the authenticity of the driver’s license in lieu of a special tool is by using a flashlight or like the one demonstrated on the video.

Shine a light

To authenticate and prove his suspicions, the traffic enforcer went on to use his mobile phone’s flashlight feature to see if it really is a fake driver’s license. The traffic enforcer said, that if the reflection of the light is YELLOW, the driver’s license is fake. If the reflection of the light is VIOLET / PURPLE, the driver’s license is authentic.

To find out, you must remove your license from any casing. You can use a regular flashlight or the light from your cellphone's flash. With the photo side facing you, shine a light FROM THE BACK of the license. You can judge the color based on the glow of the flashlight that shines through.

Find the Hologram

Is your driver

Besides the violet / purple light, another security feature that's easy to spot is the hologram. To see the hologram, one just needs to slightly tilt the driver's license under a source of light, like sunlight or even a light bulb. At certain angles, the hologram will show on the lower-right corner of your photo.

Security strip

Is your driver

Like most of our cash these days, the license also has a silver security strip at the back. The strip itself reflects light in a certain way and is embedded with lettering.

Other security features

The insider added, that new driver’s licenses (valid for 5 years), have a total of 32 security features, which include a Guilloche (the fine lines at the background), a 2-D fingerprint barcode at the back, and many more. While the LTO insider did not elaborate on these security features, the new material used for the card, as well as the method with which it was printed hides many of these features. They're not visible to the naked eye and may require an apparatus like a UV light to make them visible.

So instead of spending thousands of hard-earned money on fraudsters or fixers, our friend from the LTO said, it is much easier and would be less hassle, in the long run, to just go through the normal process of getting a valid driver’s license.

After all, the penalty for using a fake driver’s license is severe, which includes a fine of PhP3,000 plus 1-year disqualification from being granted a driver’s license by the LTO. Also, if it's deemed necessary by the apprehending officer(s) (and because the driver technically does not have a license), the vehicle being driven by the fake driver's license holder could be impounded.