Withholding licence discs after licensing fees have been paid
There is much confusion with respect to when a licensing authority may lawfully withhold a licence disc and, as a result rumours and urban legends spread like wildfire. Unfortunately though, some licensing authorities who act beyond the bounds of the law assist in spreading such rumours by unlawfully withholding licence discs and the ignorance of the public allows them to get away with overtly breaking the law.
In order to fully understand when a licence disc may not be withheld, it is vital to understand when it may be lawfully withheld. There are currently 4 instances where a licence disc may lawfully be withheld and these are:
- When there are outstanding licensing fees or penalties on those outstanding licensing fees present for any vehicle registered in the name of the licensee;
- The vehicle in question has been suspended due to a roadworthy issue or requires a roadworthy certificate to be issued before a licence disc may be issued;
- When a warrant of arrest has been issued against the licensee; or
- When an AARTO Enforcement Order has been issued against the licensee.
Outstanding licensing fees or penalties on those outstanding licensing fees
The most common mistake that people make is when they stop using a vehicle on public roads, in the false belief that they no longer need to pay licensing fees for such vehicles. The National Road Traffic Act requires any and all vehicles except a few vehicle classes to be both registered and licensed, whether or not they are used on a public road.
This typically happens with trailers and older motor vehicles that have become unusable due to maintenance issues and instead of deregistering the vehicle in question, the owner simply stops paying licensing fees for the vehicle.
Another common cause of outstanding licensing fees and penalties thereon arising is when people sell their vehicles to other people and do not follow the prescribed procedures for doing so. When you sell a motor vehicle, the current owner is required to complete and submit the eNaTIS form NCO (Notification of Change of Ownership) within 21 days of the sale. What sellers typically do is that they complete this form, but instead of handing it into their licensing authority themselves, they hand it to the buyer, along with the form ALV (Application for Licensing of a Vehicle).
The net result is that when the buyer doesn’t submit the form within 21 days and the licence comes up for renewal, the licensing fees are debited to the current owner’s account – and that current owner is you – all because you did not read and comply with the instructions on the form NCO.
Suspension of vehicles because of roadworthiness issues
A traffic officer or inspector of vehicles is granted the authority to suspend any vehicle they deem to be unroadworthy. Sadly, traffic officers frequently abuse this privilege in order to either extract bribes out of motorists or simply to show people who is the boss but the fact remains that once a vehicle has been suspended, it may not be used on a public road until such time as a roadworthy certificate has been acquired and the suspension has been lifted on eNaTIS.
Second-hand vehicles also require a roadworthy certificate to be issued once they are sold to another person, regardless of how old or new that vehicle is and if you do not have a roadworthy certificate, then you need to get one before a licence disc may be issued.
Please note however that just because you do not have a roadworthy certificate and are not using the vehicle on a public road does not mean that you are excused from paying licensing fees. To the contrary, you still need to pay them and will not be given a licence disc in return for your money until you provide a roadworthy certificate.
A warrant of arrest
The Criminal Procedure Act caters for summonses to be issued against road traffic offenders. A summons is a demand to appear in court on the charge cited on it and typically, an admission of guilt fine also appears on such summonses.
If you do not pay the admission of guilt fine and additionally fail to appear in court, a warrant of arrest will be issued against you by the court. The warrant of arrest does not find you guilty of the original offence on the summons, but for being in contempt of court because you did not appear in court.
To clear the warrant of arrest, you must pay the contempt of court fine, which is currently R300 and you must answer for the charge originally cited on the summons. Traffic authorities typically refuse to accept payment of the contempt of court fine without the payment of the original fine being included and this is unlawful.
If any one warrant of arrest exists against your name, all licensing transactions may be withheld and you will have to sort it out before you may receive your licence disc.
An AARTO Enforcement Order
The Administrative Adjudication of Rad Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act is in force in the jurisdictions of the Johannesburg and Tshwane Metropolitan Police Departments (JMPD & TMPD) and replaces the Criminal Procedure Act in administering traffic fines.
The AARTO Act does not have a warrant of arrest because it effectively decriminalises road traffic offences, however this does not mean that it trivialises them either. AARTO has an Infringement Notice which replaces a summons, a Courtesy Letter which acts as a reminder to pay or exercise another option and an Enforcement Order which effectively blocks all licensing transactions on eNaTIS.
The only way to clear an Enforcement Order is to pay it, or prove that you have otherwise exercised another option under AARTO. Only when you have done so will eNaTIS allow licensing transactions to resume as normal.
Withholding licence discs because of outstanding traffic fines and/or e-tolls
The practice of withholding licence discs because of outstanding traffic fines due to the existence of outstanding traffic fines issued under either the Criminal Procedure or AARTO Act or unpaid e-tolls is unlawful and amongst others, Sedibeng Local Authority routinely withholds licence discs on the basis that the licensee has outstanding traffic fines. Of late, there have been multiple claims that licence discs are being withheld due to outstanding e-tolls existing against the licensee’s name and this too is completely unlawful since the legislation governing e-tolls makes no provision for this.
If you and/or they take the trouble to look at the bottom of any R114 statement of account issued by the eNaTIS system, you will see that it says:
“CLEARANCE CERTIFICATES/LICENCE DISCS MAY NOT BE REFUSED DUE TO OUTSTANDING INFRINGEMENTS REFLECTED ON THIS REPORT. DOCUMENTS AS PRINTED BY THE SYSTEM MUST BE ISSUED.”
This is not printed on the statement for decoration and any licensing authority that acts in contravention of this instruction is effectively breaking the law. If you are presented with an R114 statement and a licensing authority tells you that you must pay all of your traffic fines before renewing your licence, give them your licensing fee and tell them to give you the receipt that the eNaTIS system prints.
If you do not have any outstanding licensing fees or penalties, no warrants of arrest or Enforcement Orders against you exist and the vehicle in question does have a currently valid roadworthy certificate, then a licence disc will also print on that receipt. If it doesn’t, then check the R114 statement thoroughly and if none of the empowering provisions exist on it, demand to see the Chief Licensing Officer.
If none of the empowering provisions exist on an R114 statement and they still withhold your licence disc, then the licensing authority is acting unlawfully and you can institute civil litigation to recoup the prejudice you incur by being denied the lawful use of your vehicle from the licensing authority in question. If more people did this, licensing authorities would soon stop their nonsense because they would find themselves having to fork out a lot of money.
Source : http://www.jp-sa.org/LicenceDiscs.asp