First time licensing procedures:
The first time licensing procedures for people with disabilities are exactly the same as any other person applying for a license. They first have to get a learner’s license, learn to drive and then apply for the driving test. The license that they are issued with should have restrictions placed on it, stating that they are limited to driving an automatic car or an adapted vehicle for a person with a physical disability.
Any person that had a normal license and then suffered a disability which resulted in them needing adaptations to the controls of a vehicle to enable them to drive it, or who is only able to drive an automatic vehicle as a result of a disability, is legally required to inform the licensing department and be re-tested. Their new license will have vehicle restrictions placed on it stating that they are restricted to driving an adapted or automatic vehicle. Anyone driving with a prosthesis due to an amputation must be tested with the prosthesis and they will be issues with a Driver Restriction 2.
If they are no longer capable of driving they are required to hand in their licence and inform the licensing department.
If they already had a licence they are not required to re-do their learner’s licence, only the driving test.
Procedure for a re-test:
The person requiring the re-test must go in person to their local licensing department and request a re-test due to a disability. They will need a take a letter from their doctor or therapist stating that they have a disability and that they are capable of driving an adapted vehicle. The licencing department will get permission for a re-test from the MEC’s office. Once they have received this they should contact the individual to book a re-test. This involves re-doing the practical driving test. (not the learner’s licence test.)
Incorrectly issued licences:
According to the licensing department it is each individual’s responsibility to ensure that they are issued with the correct licence. Each time you renew your licence you sign a declaration where you declare that you are fit to drive. This is a legal document and there can be serious consequences if you do not report your medical conditions. Unfortunately the testing centres frequently issue to wrong restriction of licences so please check they got it right!
What happens if I do not adapt my licence?
The laws regarding this are being tightened up. It is seldom that a person is pulled over by a traffic officer and gets fined for this, however the way the law is currently written there can be a nasty penalty for not informing the licensing department and for driving with the incorrect licence. The mostly likely place that you will pick up a problem is from your insurance company. If you are involved in an accident then your insurance company can refuse to pay out since you were driving illegally. If someone is injured then you can be held liable for the accident.
Public Driving Permit (PRDP):
As long as the licensing department is happy with your ability to adequately control the vehicle in a suitably adapted vehicle, then there are not restrictions for a person with a disability to get a PRDP, this also includes licences for heavy duty vehicles. However if there are medical complications, for example an increased risk of epilepsy or diabetes, then you will be disqualified from having a PRDP. Professional Driver Permits
Standards of controls:
There are currently no compulsory standards for hand controls in South Africa that restrict what is used where a person is unable to use the normal vehicle controls as a result of a disability. However the Road Traffic Act states that “a person driving or having a vehicle on a public road must have complete control of the vehicle at all times.” Where a person is driving using their crutches or other form of stick, which is not secured to the vehicle, this would not be considered ‘having full control of the vehicle’. This method of driving is not considered acceptable, and any person doing a driving licence test would not be allowed to pass using this system. Driving like this puts you at risk of having your vehicle impounded.