What Are Your Rights as a Driver?

  Kelly Lodewyks


 29 May, 2019

What are my rights as a driver?

After recently trying to renew her driver’s licence Kelly Lodewyks was told that there were two outstanding warrants against her name. That meant that she couldn’t renew her licence until the warrants were sorted. As a result, I’ve been wondering about what the laws are around this and what one should do (and NOT do) when stopped at a roadblock.

I recently tried to renew my vehicle licence but was told that I have two outstanding warrants against my name. I was then told that I can’t renew my licence until the warrants are sorted. As a result, I’ve been wondering about what the laws are around this and what one should do (and NOT do) when stopped at a roadblock. And because knowledge is power, I thought I’d share what I found in Q&A form.

Can you be refused a licence renewal on your car if you have a warrant out on your name?

It seems so hey! At least in Cape Town - I can’t speak for other parts of the country. And it’s been this way for years, but I didn’t know because, well, I’ve never had warrants against my name before (it’s all paid up and sorted now, by the way). There is an administrative block against your name on the eNaTIS system, so yeah, the licence renewal process can’t go any further.

Can you get arrested if pulled over and there’s a warrant of arrest against you?

Yep, you can. But only if the officers are able to provide a valid copy of the warrant. So, if you find yourself about to be arrested for a warrant out against you, you can request - in a calm manner - to see a copy of the warrant. 

What do I do if I’m not sure if the roadblock or the cop is real?

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people posing as traffic officers or police only to rob those who they stop. If you are unsure about the validity of a roadblock or an officer, you can ask them for proof such as a badge number. Failing that, you can, along with the officer, go to your nearest police station. They would need to follow you in their own vehicle.

Can I take photos or make a video while interacting with an officer?

Yes, you can. Legally, it’s allowed. Your recording device and camera cannot be confiscated by the officer and they are not legally allowed to ask you to remove footage or photos.

What happens if an officer says my car is unroadworthy?

There are a few things that could happen in this instance. They could let you drive your car to your destination and request that you don’t drive it after that. They can also ask you to not drive your vehicle any further. Officers are also within their right to remove the vehicle licence disc.

Bonus tip: Stay calm

I get it - it’s not a great feeling to be singled out and pulled over, but it is important to remember that traffic officers and police are just doing their jobs. Remain as calm as possible throughout the whole process and follow the instructions that they give you - within reason, of course.

If there’s something that doesn't feel right, you can question it or, as mentioned above, ask to be taken to the nearest police station. If you feel as though the officer treated you badly, you can lodge a complaint afterwards. In the moment, it’s perhaps best not to get too full of attitude, because this will in all likelihood just exacerbate the situation.

Photo: James Scott S Flickr

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