Metro police will now have the power to dish out fines for expired driver's licences after the grace period expires on 31 August 2021.
Metro police will now have the power to dish out fines for expired driver's licences after the grace period expires on 31 August 2021.
Image: Sowetan

Despite the high backlog in driving licence renewals, there will be no further grace periods, according to the department of transport (DoT).“

"Such consideration would have to be based on a recommendation from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), which must then be canvassed with provinces as such extension affects  the powers and revenue of the provinces,” says the DoT.

In December 2020, transport minister Fikile Mbalula gazetted an amendment to the lockdown regulations stating that all learners' licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired between March 26 and December 31 2020 were deemed to be valid, and their validity periods extended until August 31 2021.

This was due to the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns that saw drivers' licence tesing centres (DLTCs) shut their doors. The extension didn’t apply to vehicle licences.

Initially the grace period had been extended to January 31 2021, but the further seven-month extension was implemented after a continued backlog of licence renewals, with many people struggling to renew their expired licences, either on Gauteng’s online booking system or in walk-in bookings in other provinces.

According to department statistics, as of August 2 a total of 793,532 holders of driving licence cards had not yet renewed their licences  59.7% of the 1,330,156 expired licences.

The table below depicts the  backlogs in each province.

Driving licence backlog
p1908licencestats Driving licence backlog
Image: Supplied

The DoT says that during the period September 2020 to December 2020, the majority of driving licence holders renewed their driving licences but as soon as an extension was granted, people became lax and waited until the last minute to renew. 

“We have noted that licences that expired from April to August 2020 have been the tardiest to renew,” said Lawrence Venkile, special adviser to the minister and acting department spokesperson.

The RTMC will deploy two additional DLTCs dedicated to card renewals for Gauteng to ease the backlog and assist in processing of about 26,000 appointments per month.

The AA said that even though people have a willingness to renew their driving licences or discs, many are faced with excessively long queues caused by reduced staff at DLTCs, who often work with limited resources.

"We have received many e-mails and calls from the public complaining that computers, printers and eye machines are not working at the DLTCs," says the AA.

"Reduced staff numbers makes the situation worse. In Gauteng the inability of many to access booking slots via the online booking system worsens their frustration.

"The inability of many to renew their documents will, sadly, force many to drive with expired and invalid discs and licences because they don’t have a choice,” concluded the AA.

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