By Jolané van der Walt (LLB) (LLM)

One of South Africa’s challenges is to reduce the carnage on our national roads. After two decades, the AARTO Act is now officially signed into law (published in the Government Gazette on 11 October 2019). The over-arching goal of the Act is to increase road safety by removing habitual traffic offenders from South Africa’s roads and highways through a stringent demerit system.

Implications:

  1. You are allocated demerit points when committing a traffic infringement;
  2. Your driver’s licence will be suspended if you reach the maximum points allowed in terms of the demerit system;
  3. If your licence has been suspended three times, your licence will be confiscated and you will need to re-apply for your driver’s licence;
  4. Failure to adequately respond to an infringement notice or the courtesy letter will result in the authorities not issuing a permit, driver’s licence or licence disc until the penalty has been is paid or revoked;
  5. Notices can be sent electronically in addition to utilising registered mail;
  6. Law abiding behaviour will reduce a road user’s demerit points.

The Penalty Procedure:

STEP 1INFRINGEMENT NOTICE ISSUED 
Time: 32 daysPay the fine (a discounted rate may apply), ORIf you were not the driver of the motor vehicle, provide the details of the driver who committed the infringement, ORChoose to go to court for the alleged offence
STEP 2COURTESY LETTER (If you fail to respond to the infringement letter)
Time: 32 daysPay the fine, ORIf you were not the driver of the motor vehicle, provide the details of the driver who committed the infringement, ORChoose to go to court for the alleged offence
 IF STEP 1 AND STEP 2 IS IGNORED BY THE OFFENDER: 
STEP 3ENFORCEMENT NOTICE WILL BE ISSUED
 The offender will be unable to renew his/her driver’s licence, licence disc or professional driver’s permit.You will need to comply with the enforcement notice or apply to have it revoked should you wish to have the aforementioned licences issued.

COSTLY

When disputing a Notice of Infringement, one would have to do a representation to the Road Traffic Infringement Authority. In the event that your representation is rejected, an appeal may be directed to an Appeals Tribunal. If your appeal is declined, the alleged infringer may further appeal to the High Court having jurisdiction. This can be a very costly application.

CONCLUSION

Although the Act can be commended for its aim of promoting compliance with traffic laws in order to promote road safety, it is yet to be seen how the authorities will deal with the challenges as well as the backlash that can be expected from motorists.

Jolané van der Walt (LLB) (LLM) from Legal Hero

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