Expired driver’s licences: know your rights!

Expired driver’s licences: know your rights!

Are you driving without a valid licence? I would imagine that this situation probably applies to thousands of South Africans. If you’re one of those thousands, read on!

I hear about this problem on a daily basis. Lockdowns, faulty equipment, and poor administrative practices have given rise to hundreds of thousands of truck drivers and motorists driving with expired licence cards or Professional Driving Permits (PrDPs). Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has on several occasions extended the grace period validity of expired driver’s licence cards to overcome the backlog, with no further extension provided beyond 5 May 2022.

But it’s quite possible that hundreds of thousands of truck drivers and motorists will not have their licences renewed on time. According to the minister, fines will be applied to drivers with expired licence cards who are stopped by law enforcement authorities. However, law enforcement will assist drivers who can demonstrate they have experienced real challenges in renewing their licence cards.

Bearing this situation in mind, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has compiled a number of recommendations to assist those South Africans who have been unable to renew their driver’s licence cards and, as a result, are facing fines for driving with an expired card.

Important to know

An expired driver’s licence card is deemed to be valid for a further three months from the initial expiry date if the driver can prove that they have applied for a new card, and provided that the expired card and the proof (receipt) of application are kept in the vehicle at all times.

Renewing your driving licence card

  1. All driver’s licence testing centres (DLTCs) will accept walk-ins until 31 May 2022.
  2. Until the end of May 2022, testing centres will extend their operating hours by two hours and remain open on weekends.
  3. Keep a record of interactions with the authorities. Keep detailed records (date, time, and place) of all attempts to obtain a new driver’s licence card and where possible, take photos, screenshots, or video recordings of your attempts. This includes your attempts to make a booking as well as the renewal process. Always keep a copy of these in the vehicle.
  4. If your licence card has expired or will expire before you receive your new licence card, purchase a temporary licence when you are at the testing station and keep your temporary licence with you when driving a vehicle.

Driving with an expired licence card

  1. What to keep in your vehicle:
  • Your expired driver’s licence card.
  • Receipt for your driver’s licence application, and any proof of your attempts to make a booking.
  • Your temporary driver’s licence.

What to do if you are stopped 

  1. Remain calm and cooperate with the officer.
  2. Provide the officer with your expired licence card as well as any of the documents outlined above.
  3. Answer any questions the officer asks.
  4. The officer may let you go or fine you.

Your rights when stopped

  1. You may ask for the officer’s details.
  2. An officer may NOT demand payment for this fine at the scene.
  3. Drivers with expired licence cards can be fined, but are not supposed to be arrested.

What to do with the fine for driving with an invalid (expired) driver’s licence

  1. If the traffic fine was issued in Gauteng, the AARTO Act will apply. If the traffic fine was issued elsewhere in the country, the Criminal Procedure Act will apply.

You can elect to pay the fine OR, if you are not guilty of an offence, you can challenge the traffic fine in court or make representations to the issuing authority. OUTA suggests electing to be tried in court, where you can make representations to the prosecutor, at which time you can explain to the magistrate the efforts and extent you went to when attempting to renew your licence and thus why you are not guilty of this offence. The magistrate may be lenient, given the current state of driver’s licence renewals. Then, await your summons and appear in court on the date and time provided. Be sure to take all your supporting documents with you to plead your case to the prosecutor and/or the court.

  • Criminal Procedure Act

The driver can choose to pay the fine or challenge the traffic fine in court. A court date should appear on the fine. OUTA suggests that if you are not guilty (for reasons indicated above, relating to the attempts you have made to have your licence renewed), you should elect to appear in court on the date and time provided. Here, you can explain why you are not guilty to a prosecutor and/or a magistrate, who again might be lenient given the current state of driver’s licences. Be sure to take all your supporting documents with you to plead your case.

In the highly unlikely event of your arrest

  1. You have a right to legal representation and the right to remain silent. OUTA suggests you immediately contact an attorney.
  2. You must be informed of the reason for your arrest.
  3. You have a right to see the warrant of arrest.
  4. You have a right to apply for after-hours bail.
  5. The process at a police station can take a while, so be patient.
  6. If you are denied any of these rights, you can bring a civil action claim against the officer.

Handy tips

  • Drive carefully and obey all traffic laws.
  • Regularly check for warrants of arrest/enforcement orders by contacting: Natis 0861 400 800 or AARTO https://online.aarto.gov.za/
  • A warrant of arrest or enforcement order should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid legal trouble. Call Fines4U (011) 867-7331 or similar businesses to assist you.
  • Keeping an accurate record of your dealings with the authorities is essential, as you may have to testify to this in the future.
  • Do not stop applying to have your driver’s licence renewed.

Published by

Charleen Clarke

CHARLEEN CLARKE is editorial director of FOCUS. While she is based in Johannesburg, she spends a considerable amount of time overseas, attending international transport events – largely in her capacity as associate member of the International Truck of the Year Jury.
Prev Is South African public transport in a crisis?
Next Engen refuels Truck Test 2022

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.