What to do should you be fined for a 'lockdown' expired licence

A driver's licence.
A driver's licence.
Duncan Alfreds, News24)

• Not all testing centres have reopened on 10 June 

• 90-days grace period only for licences expired during lockdown 

• Licences expired after 1 June only have 21-days grace period to renew

Motorists all over the country are extremely frustrated and confused with the renewal process of vehicle and drivers' licences.

Numerous Wheels24 readers have been unable to make any appointments online as there are currently no slots available due to the severe backlog in Gauteng.

Just to clarify again, if your vehicle, driver's or learner licence expired any time from 26 March to 1 June, you will have 90 days to renew your licence at a testing centre. 

It's also important to note not all testing centres will reopen on Tuesday, 10 June, and the few which have reopened their doors are not at full capacity either.

Best would be to call the facility you are planning to visit, and rather call ahead before venturing out and standing in long queues.

Driving with J9: Here's what that 90-day extension means for expired vehicle or drivers' licences

Another alternative is to try and renew your vehicle licence at a South African Postal Office, however, while this can be done across the country, the Western Cape is the only province where this can not be done.

Based on numerous reader emails, many motorists are unable to make any online appointments as there are no open slots for Gauteng.

Keep any proof of payment, receipts, etc if you have in fact renewed your driver's licence before lockdown, but were unable to collect due to the closure of centres. Make copies, take a photo on your phone. Should you be fined, you would need to contest this.

license disc

Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

Justice Project SA's Howard Dembovsky says: "My understanding of the regulations is that the licence validity extension of 90 days from 1 June only applies to licence documents that expired during so-called 'Levels 4 and 5'. In other words, from 26 March onwards.

"I do not think that even the 90 days validity extension is going to be long enough to catch up the backlog created by two months of shutdown, particularly insofar as driving licence card renewals and other person licensing issues go. This is because under normal operating circumstances, there are huge capacity problems and long waiting lists.

I know that driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) are opening gradually but even those that are open are not operating at full capacity. In Gauteng, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that one may only book an appointment with a DLTC online ."

"For vehicle licences that expire at the end of June, the normal 21 days' grace period will apply. My advice is that people should renew vehicle licence discs at the South African Postal Office because to my knowledge, the gazette did not authorise the reopening of registering authorities, even though this may be happening anyway."

What to do if you are fined for a vehicle or driver's licence expire during lockdown

"I do however think that law enforcement authorities are going to have a hard time convincing the courts to convict people whose licenses expired a few weeks prior to the hard lockdown, particularly in the case of driving licence cards. 

"Anyone who is fined should, in my view, make representations to the public prosecutor where the Criminal Procedure Act applies and the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) where the AARTO Act applies.

"Being prohibited from renewing a licence is a complete defence and, depending on when that licence (disc, card, etc.) expired, should ensure that the fine is withdrawn."

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