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Can a licensing authority refuse to renew a motor vehicle license because of any outstanding fines?

The simple answer is yes, there are circumstances in which this may be done. However, this only applies to traffic fines that have reached a specific stage in the legislation process.

The stages are:

1.    When an enforcement order is issued and served on the alleged infringer under the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act, more commonly referred to as AARTO.

2.    Where a warrant of arrest has been authorized for the alleged accused, which will be issued under the Criminal Procedure Act.

3.    Where there are arrears and penalties outstanding in favour of the licensing department.

An enforcement order can only be issued and served on the alleged infringer when there has been proper issuing, and service of the infringement notice and courtesy letter, to which the alleged infringer has not responded or disputed in the appropriate manner. Once an enforcement order has been issued properly, it will empower the licensing department to withhold your motor vehicle license renewal, driver license renewal and your professional driver permit renewal.

Where an alleged infringer wishes to dispute the enforcement order, they will be required to put forth their argument on an application for a revocation of an enforcement order.  The application will be dealt with under the processes of the AARTO Act and the respective authorities.

A warrant of arrest on the other hand, is only issued when a summons has been served and the alleged accused failed to appear in court.  This failure would be seen as being in contempt of court and the magistrate requires that the alleged accused appear in court to answer to the contempt of court charge as well as the merits of the fine. The warrant itself is an order of court and can only be cancelled by a Magistrate in that jurisdiction.

With respect to outstanding licence fees and penalties, Regulation 59 (2) and (3) authorizes the licensing authority to withhold the processing of any motor vehicle transaction until the outstanding funds are paid to the licensing authority.

Should you find yourself in a situation where your motor vehicle license renewal, driver license renewal or professional driver permit is being denied due to outstanding traffic fines, you are advised to request a list of outstanding fines, penalties and licensing fees. Once in possession of the list, you will be required to establish whether there is an enforcement order or a warrant of arrest in your name, and if there is any of the above mentioned, you will be able to determine how to proceed.

Where there is no enforcement order or a warrant of arrest authorized for you, and there are traffic fines cited on your name, then you will be entitled to put forward a request as to why they are withholding the renewal of the vehicle license from you.  

However please note that should you have not renewed your motor vehicle licenses in respect of all your motor vehicles, you are in breach of the National Road Traffic Act particularly Regulation 18, which requires that all motor vehicles be licensed annually irrespective of whether they are being used on a public road or not.  Therefore where your licence is being withheld due to non-payment; you will be required to update the payment unless there is an appropriate explanation for said non-payment. 

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