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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

South African drivers’ licence expiry after 5 years illegal, says Afriforum

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Afriforum has launched a legal challenge to the 5-year validity period for driver’s licence cards. It also contends that fines issued against motorists with expired cards are illegal.

On Thursday, the civil rights organisation filed court papers seeking a declaration that the requirement to renew a licence card every five years be declared invalid and reviewed.

Afriforum contends the National Road Traffic Act regulations, to the extent that it limits the renewal period for driving licence cards to five years, were “unreasonable, arbitrary and vague”.

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“The legislation does not clearly distinguish between a ‘driving license’ and a ‘driving licence card’,” Afriforum said. “It neither explicitly states that motorists must apply for new licence cards upon expiry.”

“It does not even state that it is a crime to drive with an expired licence card nor prescribe any fines, penalties or sanctions,” it added.

Consequently, Afriforum is also seeking a ruling that motorists cannot by law be penalised or fined for not having a renewed driving licence card. It maintains no such penalty exists.

“The government cannot punish members of the public if it cannot clearly show what law is being transgressed,” said Afriforum campaign officer for strategy and content Reiner Duvenage.

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“Any such punishment amounts to a violation of rights.”

Duvenage said it was “outrageous” that there appeared to be no legislation validating the requirement to renew licence cards.

“If our application is successful, it will leave the Department of Transport with egg on its face as it would mean that it has been wrongfully punishing the public for years,” Duvenage said.

From a practical perspective, the organisation argued that the transport department’s administrative, operational, and financial struggles made it unfeasible, unreasonable, and irrational to require drivers to renew their licence cards every five years.

Read also: Only 125 out of 2 290 unemployed youths pass state sponsored driver’s licence scheme

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Legal experts previously advised motorists to renew their licence cards, and if they struggled to get an appointment or had not received their cards, carry some form of proof of their application.

They also reiterated that the driver’s licence itself does not expire, so motorists should continue keeping their old cards while driving.

However, there has been little clarity on the legal grounds for the tacitly accepted 5-year validity period nor the justification for issuing a fine if a motorist does not abide by this requirement.

Afriforum has also launched a petition calling for people’s support. – MyBroadband

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