South African motorists may be fined for driving with expired driving licence cards, even where the Driving Licence Card Authority (DLCA) has been unable to provide the driving licence card after a proper application was made by the motorist.
This is according to the chair of Justice Project South Africa (JPSA), Howard Dembovsky, who said that the DLCA is currently backlogged with applications due to a strike.
“A spokesperson for the Department of Transport has stated that a directive has been issued to law enforcement authorities not to prosecute motorists whose driving licence cards have expired without the new card being received as a result of the backlog,” he said.
“However, the KZN Department of Transport’s stance is that such motorists must, at a cost of R100 each, obtain temporary driving permits, or face prosecution.”
Dembovsky said he would be surprised if KZN’s Department of Transport could convince a court to convict a motorist who has made reasonable efforts to comply with the provisions of the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA), but has been denied a renewed driving licence card.
“This announcement is also cynical, coming in the midst of the festive season travel period when testing centres are unlikely to be able to meet such a sudden demand for temporary licences, and with many motorists already on holiday away from their homes and without access to the supporting documentation needed for an application,” Dembovsky said.
He added that a driving licence is valid indefinitely, until such time as it is suspended or cancelled.
It is only the driving licence card which should be renewed every five and a professional driving permit (also on a driving licence card) which must be renewed every two years, he said.
“Although a court may take the view that it is the motorist’s duty not to drive in contravention of the law, it is the state’s duty to ensure compliance is possible.
“(The) JPSA strongly recommends that anyone who is fined after making application for the renewal of their driving licence card or professional driving permit defends the matter on the basis that compliance is not reasonably possible at such short notice during the festive season, and that the direct cause of the non-compliance is the state’s failure to manage the DLCA effectively.”