What are the risks and consequences of driving without a license?

It is alarming to find that many drivers on our roads are not licensed – and simply do not care! But what are the risks and consequences of driving without a license? We would like to share the response from Justice Project South Africa after a recent query.


I live in the UK, and am concerned that my daughter who lives in SA does not realise the consequence of driving without a licence. I realise that “it is not my problem” and she is a grown woman and a mother, however that does not stop me being concerned… I would like to just tell her this is the true situation about the consequence of driving without a licence.

She is a qualified driver, (she originally passed her driver’s test 15 years ago in South Africa), but lost her British driving licence when she returned from the UK to live in SA, after living here for around 8 years I believe she has left the situation so long will now need to redo the licence in South Africa.

I understand the booking system in South Africa is in a mess and that is putting her off, not an excuse, I know….

Could you help please


The situation you have described here is terrible and the beliefs that are held by your daughter and her partner are not accurate and I am afraid that your daughter is walking a very fine and dangerous line.

Firstly, the fine for driving without a valid driving licence is in fact R1250 under the current AARTO legislation – not R200 as is believed by her partner. Secondly, whilst operating a vehicle without possessing a valid driving licence is not currently a criminal offence, I am told that the AARTO regulations are to be amended imminently to re-classify this offence as a criminal offence for which one can be arrested, detained and criminally charged. Personally, I will welcome this because there are simply way too many people that hold the attitude that they do not need to hold a valid driving licence in order to drive our roads.

But here is another “wake up call” for your daughter as it would appear that both she and her partner are of the opinion that the current consequences do not demand urgency in complying with the law. Whilst many traffic officers do understand what the law says with respect to operating a motor vehicle without possessing a driving licence there are literally thousands that don’t and most SAPS officers don’t know much about traffic law and this leads to them handling situations incorrectly.

These people do not hesitate to arrest and detain such people and, despite the fact that only a fine gets levied thereafter, such arrestees are detained in police cells for extended periods of time where all manner of things happen to them. Let me assure you that being locked up in South African Police cells is not the holiday camp it is in the UK. There have been numerous incidents of detainees being abused by both, inmates and police themselves and I have not encountered one police cell in South Africa that can be described as hygienic – let alone meeting first world standards. This is not the UK and racism is a big problem here. Where the victims of it are female, the magnitude increases and there have been frequent reports rape and other abuse.

It is entirely your daughter’s choice whether she wishes to continue to tempt fate by remaining a criminal, but I would strongly recommend that she takes a reality check from what I have said here and goes and gets her licence urgently. She will have to start from scratch and has no-one to blame but herself. She should also avoid blaming booking systems and other inefficiencies for her ignorance and contempt for the law. Where there is a will to comply, there is a way and I can assure you that the current situation with respect to bookings is way more efficient than it was under a centralised call centre.

Best Regards,

Howard Dembovsky
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)

Also view on Licensing and Car Insurance the following

Car insurance will not cover those driving without a license!

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