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E-Natis: Legal implications for failing to convert driver's license (2007)

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DATE: THURSDAY 10 MAY 2007

 

THE OMBUDSMAN FOR SHORT-TERM INSURANCE SAYS THAT THERE ARE DIFFERENT LEGAL IMPLICATIONS IF YOU FAIL TO CONVERT YOUR OLD DRIVER’S LICENCE TO THE CARD LICENCE AS OPPOSED TO RENEWING YOUR CARD LICENCE

The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance says that there are different legal implications if you fail to convert your old driver’s licence contained in your identity document to the card licence as opposed to failing to renew your card licence every five years.

In recent years we have seen the introduction of a card based driver’s licence, which replaced the driver’s licence contained in an identity document and is renewable every five years.  “However there are different legal implications for drivers if they fail to convert their identity document driver’s licence to the card format as opposed to renewing their card format licence”, says Brian Martin, Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance.

In the first instance if you fail to convert your identity document licence to a card licence you will no longer be deemed to be a licensed driver and as such you will have to be retested.  The failure to renew a card licence is different as you will still be in possession of a valid licence albeit without the required proof and you may be subject to a fine if stopped by a traffic officer for not being in possession of a valid driver’s licence. However any insurance claim you may have should not be affected, as you will still be deemed to be a licensed driver.

Regarding the issue of foreign licences, South Africa acknowledges certain foreign or international driving licences, however it may become problematic when a person obtains their permanent resident status.  South African law requires that you convert your foreign licence to a local one within a year of obtaining your resident status.  “A person with a foreign driver’s licence needs to apply to their country’s consulate to obtain proof of their licence and submit it to local authorities who will then issue a card based driver’s licence once all the administrative requirements have been met. The person will not have to undergo a driving test to demonstrate their driving skills.” South Africa is also a signatory to a treaty with SADC countries whereby we accept the validity of licences obtained in that countries.

To further complicate the issue, government recently announced the introduction of a new eNatis software system to assist with the issuing of new licences as well as the renewal of existing licences. Unfortunately the system has been fraught with technical glitches resulting in a number of people being unable to obtain the necessary licences. This is bound to result in delays in the renewal and issuing of licences. “Members of the public are strongly advised to apply for their renewal well in advance of the expiry date”.

“The Office of the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance has been mandated to apply both the law and equity when resolving complaints.  Should we receive a complaint where an Insurer has rejected a claim because the driver did not have a valid driver’s licence, or a vehicle was not roadworthy due to an expired licence disc, we would not necessarily support the decision.  To determine an equitable outcome, we would ask the Insurer to demonstrate prejudice as a result of the failure to be in possession of a valid licence”, says Brian. 

The office of the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance can be reached on 0860 726 890, email info@osti.co.za or www.osti.co.za

ENDS

For interview opportunities and more information please contact:

Hendrik Viljoen

Assistant Ombudsman

Tel: (011) 726-8900

Fax: (011) 726-5501

Email: hendrik@osti.co.za

Website: www.osti.co.za

Notes for the Editor: 

The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance is Brian Martin, who has more than twenty-five years’ experience of Insurance Litigation covering almost all classes of insurance, and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise.  Deputy Ombudsman, Jim McIntosh, five Assistant Ombudsmen and a professional staff of sixteen ably support him.  

The Ombudsman’s offices are located in Johannesburg.  Complaints can be submitted on-line via the website at www.osti.co.za, posted to P O Box 32334, Braamfontein, 2017 or faxed to 011 726-5501.