The government cancels the proof that makes you wait several months to renew your driver’s license

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Thousands of tests are on hold. The government is changing the rules to make it easier to revalidate pre-2008 licences.

Some drivers are waiting months to take the test that will enable them to renew their driving license. By law, those who have exceeded their expiry date by more than two years must take a test. Thousands of people are driving with expired licenses, and thousands more have been fined. The government began by trying to solve the problem through awareness campaigns. Now, faced with the difficulty of reacting, it has announced the introduction of an extraordinary new regime which removes the obligation to take a test.

Magda Canas, legal affairs specialist at DecoProteste, says that “a lot of people don’t know the procedures”. The association has files of drivers who have started a revalidation process and have had to wait a long time: in one case, they had to wait two years to take the practical test, in Lisbon, at a center of the Institute of Mobility and Transport (IMT).

The president of the National Association of Driving Schools (ANIECA) speaks of an “eight-month” wait to take the practical test at public test centers in municipalities such as Faro and Beja. This period increases to “14 months” if the driver fails the first practical test.

Otherwise, you can drive

As of June 1, according to the IMT website, there were 7626 practical tests pending, including new drivers, those renewing their licenses and foreign title exchanges. Porto has more pending practical tests (1135) than Lisbon (325). Beja (833) and Faro (738) have a longer waiting list than the capital.

Drivers in the process of being revalidated can continue to drive on the roads with a guide issued by the ITM, subject to renewal at the counters.

The president of the Automobile Club du Portugal (ACP) contrasts this, declaring that the correction of the tests is “rapid”, but criticizes the revalidations: “This is a purely administrative act aimed at feeding the state coffers”. For Carlos Barbosa, the medical tests required for renewal should be more demanding and requested earlier, not just after the age of 60.

António Reis, from ANIECA, claims that the wait in public examination centers does not occur in private centers: between 15 days and a month, the examination is scheduled. JN has heard of the case of a driver who, after having forgotten for three and a half years about revalidation at the age of 60, took the test. He failed and waited “months” for the second test. Even though he didn’t pass, he had a license valid for two years and could therefore drive.

On June 1, the government approved in the Council of Ministers an extraordinary scheme that will exempt from taking a practical test those who let their license expire more than two years ago. However, it did not reveal any details. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the ITM have asked for clarification on when the diploma will be published in the “Diário da República”, leaving driving schools in limbo.

“Lots of problems

It is known that the scheme will apply to driving licenses issued before January 1, 2008. However, those who obtained their driving license between that date and January 2, 2013 have “a lot of problems”, says Magda Canas. What’s more, the expiry date on the back of the license is not the “real” date [see explanation opposite].

António Reis, who admits to having received an “unusual” number of doubts since the diploma was announced, says he is “worried” about drivers who have started renewing, failed the first test and have already asked to schedule the second: “I’m afraid they won’t be covered”. For the president of ANIECA, the new diploma risks compromising “equal opportunities” for those who have tried to comply with the law.

He received a letter at home, even though the diploma was not in force.

Although the new diploma has not yet been published and has not yet come into force, drivers are already being informed at LMI counters that they are exempt from taking the practical test and have even received their licenses. JN is aware of the case of a 52-year-old driver who, after confusing the deadlines, realized that he should have renewed his license at 50. Although originally from Sintra, he went to the ITM in Santarém to avoid the crowds at the Lisbon branch. He learned that he had to take a test and, from the end of 2022 until May, he drove with a guide. On May 23, he returned to Santarém to renew his license, but was informed that he did not need to take the practical test and that the license would be sent to him. The document arrived on June 5. He spent around 105 euros: 30 for the renewal, 30 for registering for the test, 15 for issuing the license and 30 for the medical certificate. As it was impossible to consult the family doctor, the driver went to a driving school with a medical service. The ITM has already informed him that it will reimburse the value of the practical test, but has not commented on the matter.

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