Driving with J9 | Did you know your driving licence never expires?

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A driver's licence. Image: Duncan Alfreds
A driver's licence. Image: Duncan Alfreds
Duncan Alfreds, News24

• Many South Africans are unaware that when your driver licence card expires, it does not mean your licence has expired too.
• There is currently no law which compels motorists to renew their licence cards.
• Whether your driver licence card expired fives years ago, or five days ago, you'll still pay the same price with no penalties. 
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.

Since the national lockdown in March earlier this year motorists have been stressed about expired driver's licence cards. Yet, most don't know it never expires, only your card does.

Many South Africans have been so worried about their expired licences and exposing themselves to the risk of being infected by the coronavirus by standing in endless queues for expired learner or driver's licence cards. And really, there is no need.

There is no legal requirement which compels motorists to renew their driving licence cards. Yet, countless drivers have been fined for driving with an expired licence card. However, if you are caught without a driver's licence card on your person, officials should then duly give a fine.

The only time you would need to apply for a driver's licence again or renew your actual driver's licence is when a motorist has been involved in a criminal or behavioural incident due to specific disqualifications or a court decision would cause your licence to be suspended or cancelled.

Whether your driver's licence card expired fives years ago, five months ago, or even last week, there is no penalty, and you'll pay the same amount to renew your licence card for R160 (prices might vary in provinces) and pay an additional R45 for a temporary licence. 

drivers licence,licence
Motorists queue outside the Randburg Driving Licence Testing Centre.

It also means Gauteng motorists who have been battling for months without end with the online eNatis system to try and get an online slot is almost in vain. I'll get to why I say 'almost'.

With the second wave of Covid-19 infections present in South Africa and on the surge daily, I would highly recommend that citizens stay home, and stay safe, at least until we're out of the woods again. Our numbers have decreased significantly, before heading out to renew your licence card.

There is a catch though, and that's insurance companies who might word their policies very carefully, and not pay out an accident or stolen vehicle claim if your or your appointed drivers' licence cards have expired. I'd also recommend checking your insurance policies at this point in the event of any potential incidents.

Wheels24 reader Lloyd Castle recently wrote into me, and it has encouraged me to speak out, especially with the resurgence of the coronavirus all over the country. Mr Castle raises exceptionally valid points and asks vital questions we should all be aware of.

Castle writes: "Dear Ms Van Der Post I continue to read your stories with much interest. Thank you for the effort you make in getting the information out. I have questions which you may be able to answer for me. 

"1.LICENCE CARDS Amid the fanfare around the renewal of driving licences, my concern is that the motoring public feels pressured to stand in queues for hours on end during a pandemic fearing the legal consequences of not renewing their driving licence cards, when in fact, there are NO legal consequences attached to the failure to renew a driving licence card at all.  

"The driving licence is valid from issue until suspended or cancelled by a legal process as a result of medical or behavioural unfitness to hold it. IT DOES NOT EXPIRE!  

"The licence card expires every five years, and while it may still be in perfect functional condition, the motorist has been led to believe that it MUST be renewed under the misguided belief that without it they have no valid driving licence.  

The licence the expired card purports to prove valid still exists regardless of the expiry date on the card. Again, production of an invalid card still proves the existence of the driving licence, even if there is an expiry date on the card. The expiry date relates to the CARD and NOT the actual licence.
Wheels24 reader, Lloyd Castle

"Your insurer may require you to hold a valid driving licence card, (because they too have been misled) but there exists no legal provision that compels you to do so in law, not our traffic law anyway. 

"Consequently, there is no criminal charge for producing an expired driving licence card. You will also note that there are no penalty fees for any late renewal of an expired card and no fine for doing so after the expiry date.  

"My question then is, why does the Department of Transport continue to mislead motorists with the notion of a gracious extension given by the Minister when they legally are not compelled to renew it at all? 

"2.RTMC: In its recent press release of 8 December 2020, related to the Festive Season Campaign, the RTMC advises all motorists to "check if they have any outstanding fines before embarking on their festive journeys" and that "Traffic Officers are being deployed on all major routes and those found with outstanding traffic fines will not be allowed to proceed." – 

"Could you please ascertain under which law this infringement of a motorists Constitutional right is granted to traffic officers or the RTMC? Does anyone fact check these media releases?  

"3. TRAFFIC DEPARTMENTS: Could you please establish the reason why persons allegedly caught speeding, or driving recklessly or negligently are arrested by traffic authorities when less invasive means of securing attendance in court can be employed? 

"Arrest is the harshest means of securing an accused's attendance at his trial and suspends some of his Constitutionally bestowed rights. 

"While there may be valid grounds for an arrest in some cases, why is Sect 40(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51/1977 invoked when the accused is not a flight risk, does not pose a further danger to society, clearly cannot tamper with witnesses and is readily identifiable, has a fixed address, permanent employment, drives a registered vehicle, produces a driving licence, etc.? 

How is arrest reasonably justified in these cases? Is arrest now simply being used as unlawful extra-judicial punishment to send a message to society?" 

toyota supra janine
Wheels24 editor Janine Van der Post

If you have any driver licence or vehicle licence queries, or need some motoring advice? Please feel free to email the editor by clicking here.

Or, do you have a cool story to share about cars? Perhaps you have something to get off your chest or have an opinion about F1 or cars? We'd love to publish it here on Wheels24. Just email us here.

Please note we're trying to respond to all reader emails, and ask for some patience if you do not receive an immediate reply.

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