YOU can drive without a licence if you can prove that your learner's licence has expired after you tried to be tested several times but to no avail.
This is the response of a senior Gauteng magistrate after it emerged that thousands of people cannot get their licences because of repeated delays by the Department of Transport.
"The failure of a state to provide its citizens with driving licences cannot be visited on these citizens," said Gauteng chief magistrate Daniel Thulare.
Thulare's stance should come as a huge relief to thousands who have been struggling to get bookings to undergo tests for licences.
Scores of law-abiding citizens are becoming increasingly frustrated due to problems bedeviling booking centres and licensing stations, especially in Gauteng.
Speaking on Friday Thulare, who is also an evangelist, said: "The law does not expect impossibility".
"Any conviction of a citizen for driving without a licence will therefore be unlawful if the state itself has failed to test that person."
But he stressed that such people would only walk free provided they were able to demonstrate that they had taken steps to obtaining their documents.
Gauteng roads department spokesperson Philemon Motshwaedi was not available for comment.
Thulare said he was aware of people whose learner's licences expired and they had to write second tests because of delays in the system.
"If it is impossible for a state to provide its citizens with licences, the same state can't be punishing people."
For years callers to radio stations have described how difficult it is to get bookings at testing centres.
After hanging on the phone for 30 minutes callers are told "No bookings are available" or "Please call after 30 minutes". Sometimes phones are engaged for hours on end.