• The deadline to renew lockdown expired driving licence cards is 31 August 2021.
• Just because your driving licence card is expired, does not mean your licence is expired.
• The government's threats of heavy fines for expired driving licence is fear-mongering and not helpful.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.
The deadline to renew lockdown expired driving licence cards might be at the end of August, but it's also important to know that your actual driving licence never expires.
At the end of December 2020, I had said in a Wheels24 article that your driving licence never expires. This is still true, and with the end-August deadline looming, traffic authorities, and the government, are using fear-mongering tactics to get motorists to renew their driving licence cards - or "else they will be fined".
Wheels24 reader Lloyd Castle wrote to us last year. He had this to say: "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 South African Institute of Driving Instructors (SAIDI) backs this claim and points out a few sobering facts.
SAIDI's managing director Robert Chandler reiterates that your driving licence NEVER expires.
Chandler says: "The proof that you hold a driving licence, i.e. the driving licence card has an expiry date; however, the expiry of this card has nothing to do with the validity of your driving licence.
He also adds that media articles warning motorists to renew their driving licence cards or face the consequences is purely fear-mongering and not helpful to motorists at all.
Chandler adds: "You will NEVER be driving illegally. It is required that you keep such a driving licence card with you in the vehicle. If asked to produce proof of driving licence and your card is expired, the worst sanction you are exposed to is failing to provide a valid proof of licence."
It's also important to note that your insurance is issued to you based on the fact that the driver is licenced to drive.
"Proof of the validity of your licence for insurance purposes is obtainable by applying for a printout from a DLTC", he says.
I have been writing about driving and vehicle licence renewals for more than a year now, and the problematic online Natis system has not improved one bit. These problems have been around long before the first positive case of Covid-19 was confirmed in South Africa. If anything, the pandemic only brought the ongoing issues to the fore.
Chandler also says the online booking system is only being used in Gauteng, which equates to 38 driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) in the province and only two more in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in the Eastern Cape. This equates to 40 of the 408 DLTCs countrywide (10%); however, chaos is found at all 408 DLTCs in the country.
Despite Chandler's claim about the dilemma of all licence centres being chaotic, quite a few have a streamlined system in place, especially in the Western Cape. I personally always recommend the Somerset West DLTC for their efficiency, friendly staff, and turnaround time. My recent experience of renewing my expired licence took less than two hours, and only three weeks for my new card to arrive.
However, SAIDI says opposition parties have also called for the "scrapping of the online booking system". But, Chandler says this is hypocritical. While opposition parties might think the scrapping of the e-Natis system would combat corruption and allow motorists to use DLTCs as walk-in centres.
He says: "Corruption will increase dramatically, not decease, and in any case, the staff and financial resources are not available to call for this move.
Stay tuned next week for our next instalment of driving licence renewals on Monday (23 August).