Punishment for expired license cards possibly llegal!

Punishment for expired license cards possibly llegal!

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AfriForum is taking legal action against the requirement for license cards to be renewed every five years. The civil rights organisation filed court papers in which it demands a declaratory order that the Road Traffic Regulations that limit the period of validity of license cards to five years are beyond the legislature’s power, unreasonable, arbitrary and vague. The application further seeks a declaratory order that motorists cannot be penalised or fined for not being in possession of a renewed driving license card.

Strong legal and practical grounds form the basis of AfriForum’s legal application:

  • From a legal point of view, the Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 and the regulations are too vague to be workable. The Act does not clearly distinguish between a “driving license” and “driving license card”. Neither does it explicitly state that motorists must apply for new license cards upon expiry or that it is a crime to drive with an expired license. Moreover, it does not prescribe any fines, penalties or sanctions for doing so. As such, the legislation is neither clear, nor concise or internally harmonious enough to enable the general public to know with a degree of certainty what is expected of them. Furthermore, the legislation is argued to be ultra vires. In other words, the government cannot punish members of the public if it cannot clearly show what law is being transgressed. Any such punishment amounts to a violation of rights.
  • From a practical point, the Department of Transport’s well-documented administrative, operational and financial struggles make it unfeasible, unreasonable and irrational to require drivers to renew their license cards every five years.  
  • The application further stresses that many countries around the world have opted for a license card system that does not require such frequent renewals as South Africa does.  

If AfriForum’s succeeds in its legal action, it will be a watershed moment. This would mean that the government has been wrongfully punishing the public for more than 20 years.