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WARNING: Check Camera Fines Carefully

Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has warned vehicle owners to carefully check any speed camera-based traffic fines they receive or happen to discover on their banking app or on the internet.

JPSA chair, Howard Dembovsky, said so-called ‘capture errors’ were causing motorists to be incorrectly charged with infringements and criminal offences they didn’t commit. “In one recent case, a motorist faced a criminal charge because the location of the infringement was incorrectly recorded.”

In that instance, the motorist was on a freeway, travelling at 134km/h in a 120km/h zone and should have received an infringement notice for exceeding the 120km/h limit by 14km/h. The image shows his vehicle on the freeway. However, the location at which the violation was alleged to have occurred was given as an urban road several kilometres away, in an 80km/h zone.

“Using the incorrect location, the motorist was no longer alleged to have been just 14km/h over the speed limit, but a massive 54km/h over it. Exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h in an urban area is automatically classified as a criminal offence and triggers a mandatory court appearance,” Dembovsky explained. “For this reason, it is essential that the authorities record the location of an alleged violation correctly, both to prevent spurious criminal charges like in this case, but also to ensure genuine traffic offenders are brought to book.”

He said the JPSA was assisting the motorist to have the defective notice of intention to prosecute him in court withdrawn but remained concerned that the same location mistake may have applied to many other camera violations recorded at the same place on the same day.

“Camera violations are meant to be reviewed by traffic officer before being issued to prevent this kind of error. JPSA no longer has confidence that these reviews are being done properly, or indeed at all, which raises the greater question of what levels of oversight exist in traffic law enforcement,” he concluded.

Suspension of senior RTIA executives is a serious matter – JPSA

Implementing the AARTO Act (as amended) countrywide would be reckless now that a forensic investigation has been launched into the activities of the Registrar of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA). This is according to Howard Dembovsky, chair of Justice Project South Africa, who was speaking in the wake of the shock suspensions of the Registrar, Japh Chuwe, and other un-named “senior employees” of the RTIA.

The RTIA was brought into being by the AARTO Act, which creates an administrative scheme of dealing with traffic fines and, in its amended form all but entirely removes the jurisdiction of the lower courts over them.

“The suspensions are being said by the RTIA to have arisen from the findings of the Auditor General regarding the RTIA’s 2019/20 audit, coupled with whistle-blower reports of serious maladministration involving these individuals,” Dembovsky said.

He added that the fact that the maladministration was uncovered by the Auditor General strongly suggests that it involves finances. “This does not bode well for a SOE that the public will soon have to trust to handle billions of Rands in traffic fine revenue,” he added.

He said the AARTO Amendment Act, signed by the President in August 2019, and the draft AARTO regulations published for public comment on 2 October 2020 “unashamedly favour profit over road safety”. He said they envisage a vast flood of revenue which, in South Africa, has proven an open invitation to corruption in SOEs.”

“Fines have been tripled (or more), fees have been doubled, infringement schedules have been modified to maximise fine revenue from speeding especially, and a preposterous ‘Infringement Penalty Levy’ has been incorporated into the new regulations,” he explained.

The Infringement Penalty Levy of R100 per infringement notice that is “issued and followed up by proper administrative processes” will, on its own, generate a billion Rand per ten million fines issued, excluding the value of the fines themselves and the fees the RTIA may add to them. It is conservatively estimated that between 15 and 20 million fines a year will be issued countrywide once AARTO is fully implemented.

“The Amendment Act and draft Regulations perpetuate the stench of road safety as a cash cow, and this latest development gives credence to criticism that the Department of Transport has not held the RTIA at arms’ length in law-making,” Dembovsky said. “In fact, the RTIA, which is the very body which the AARTO Act governs, was allowed to receive public submissions on the Regulations, represents an extraordinary conflict of interest!”

AARTO’s planned national implementation date is 1 July this year, and Dembovsky commented that a forensic investigation into what is clearly being regarded as serious malfeasance could likely not be completed with just 145 days to go before that date.

“To forge ahead with AARTO’s national implementation under the current circumstances would be reckless and we cannot see that the Minister of Transport has much option but to pause it yet again,” he commented. “The RTIA must be squeaky-clean if AARTO is to have the public’s buy-in, and this latest development further undermines public confidence in the Agency,” Dembovsky concluded.

The RTIA’s media release appears below:

Tweets are not law, Mr Minister

Justice Project South Africa (“JPSA”) is alarmed that on 31 December 2020, Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula falsely and irresponsibly tweeted:

“In order to ease the pressure on motorist and to allow sufficient time for authorities to clear the backlogs as a consequence of the earlier restrictions, we have extended the validity of learner’s and driver’s licences, vehicle licences, professional driving permits”.

As of 5 January 2021, no government gazette which gives any effect to the said extension of the validity period of vehicle licenses and the discs associated with them has been published. This rubbishes the Minister’s claims that as of 31 December last year the said extension had already been effected.

He did not say “we will” or “we are going to” extend the validity period of vehicle licenses, he said “we have” done so.

Despite his unfortunate tendency to take to social media to promote himself, the Minister is a trusted public official whose word should be beyond reproach. It is only when or if the appropriate amendment is published in the government gazette that it will be of any force and effect. Twitter is not a substitute for the government gazette. Full stop!

Several media houses have published the Minister’s false claims and as a result, it is not unlikely that trusting members of the public who have taken him on his word have been fined.

Members of the public are advised to place no reliance in tweets emanating from the Minister of Transport unless specific, verifiable references to official government publications are provided to back up his claims.

UPDATE

Since we put this media release out, Minister Mbalula has deleted his tweet. This is not an unusual behaviour of dishonest people. That is why we made a screen capture of it before putting this media release out.

On Saturday 9 January 2021, the Department of Transport put out a media release “clarifying” the situation. It appears below and is also incorrect. It refers to the Government Gazette of 30 November 2020.

Although the Minister signed the amendment on  30 November 2020, no Government Gazette dealing with licensing was published on that day. The date of the said gazette was 3 December 2020.

The amendment to direction 6 appeared at regulation 2 on page 4 of Government Gazette 43958 of 3 December 2020. As can be seen at regulation 3, its date of commencement was the date of its publication in the Government Gazette.

RTMC threatens motorists with unlawful arrest

ANPR cameras are used to identify vehicles with unpaid traffic fines

Justice Project South Africa (“JPSA”) notes with concern that the RTMC has stated its intention to flout the law and violate the Constitution this festive season.

According numerous media reports, “The RTMC advises all motorists to check if they have any outstanding traffic fines before embarking on their festive journeys. Traffic officers are being deployed on all major routes and those found with outstanding traffic fines will not be allowed to proceed.”

There is no provision in any law that authorises traffic officers to prevent motorists from proceeding with their journey if they are found to have outstanding traffic fines. A traffic fine is not a warrant of arrest and should not be regarded as one. An arrest warrant is issued by a judicial officer if a person has been summoned to court and has failed to appear.

A traffic fine however constitutes an allegation of wrongdoing. It is not an invoice or a tax. Preventing anyone from proceeding with their journey on the strength of an “outstanding traffic fine” constitutes de facto unlawful arrest. Forcing such persons to pay a fine or fines under threat of formal arrest constitutes extortion.

“As much as I detest having to continually repeat myself, it is high time that traffic law enforcement officials started obeying the provisions of the law that apply to them,” said JPSA’s Chairperson, Howard Dembovsky. “The RTMC is too fond of threatening motorists with things that are not provided for in law,” he continued.

For many years now, the RTMC has threatened motorists who are alleged to be driving under the influence of alcohol with “a minimum of seven days in jail” before being allowed to make a bail application. There is no such provision in the law that authorises this and it is unlikely that there ever will be.

The RTMC is responsible for coordinating road traffic law enforcement nationally.

“Instead of inciting unlawful behaviour by traffic officers, the RTMC should be acting responsibly, by concentrating on initiatives that promote road safety and save lives, where reckless drivers are stopped before they crash into other road users,” Dembovsky said.

“While hidden speed cameras are super money-spinners for greedy municipalities and roadblocks can detect unroadworthy vehicles, together with those that have unpaid traffic fines, neither tackle the wanton reckless behaviour that plays itself out on our roads every day. Only professional visible and active policing can do that,” he concluded.


UPDATE

In response to requests for clarification from Amanda Watson, a senior journalist at The Citizen regarding what legislation provides for traffic officers to prevent motorists from proceeding with their journey if they have outstanding traffic fines, the spokesperson for the RTMC, Simon Zwane said:

“I said people should check if they don’t have warrants of arrests against their name. Warrants issued in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act. Many parts of the country are using section 56 notices of CPA to issue traffic fines and warrants are issued for people fail to pay and fail to appear in court. It is not an Aarto process”. However, as appears below, this is not what the RTMC’s press statement said.

Zwane then went on to say: “It’s warrants issued against unpaid traffic fines and failure to appear in court on the date stated on the traffic notice issued. The starting is an in unpaid fine that leads to a warrant.”

Again, JPSA reiterates that a warrant of arrest in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act will only ever arise in respect of a traffic fine if a person is summoned to appear in court and fails to appear. There is no requirement in the Criminal Procedure Act that anyone MUST pay an admission of guilt fine, and in so doing, admit that they are guilty of the alleged criminal offence.

It is not clear why the RTMC continues to believe that it can threaten unlawful actions. The difficulty with it doing so is that some traffic officers may believe the RTMC and end up inviting a flood of civil claims against their employers when they unlawfully arrest people.

The RTMC’s press release appears below (with the relevant text highlighted):

08112020-Festive-season-arrests-highlighted

National Road Traffic Amendment Bill public participation re-opened

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport has re-opened the public participation process regarding the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, 2020.

The Committee’s website states: “This is a second call for submission on this bill (the previous ran from 26 October to 20 November). The Committee noted that over 6 900 submissions had been received but this was a small number relative to the driving population who would be affected by the Bill. The Committee agreed that the Bill should be more widely advertised, including on radio.”

JPSA points out that the last time driving licence holder statistics were published was in March 2017. As of 28 February 2017, there were 12 283 777 licensed drivers in South Africa.

Considering that the RTMC has repeatedly said that around a half a million new drivers join the driving population annually, it is possible that the current number of licensed drivers is approaching 14 million.

This means that during the last public consultation round, approximately 0.05% of the driving population made submissions to the Committee. This is somewhat ironic, considering that the Bill proposes to remove the below 0,05mg/100ml (0,05%) blood sampled alcohol limit and replace it with a zero level.

JPSA made its submission to the Committee on 20 November 2020. Its submission can be found here.

“It is and remains our view that what is needed for instances of driving under the influence of alcohol (“DUI”) to be effectively reduced is for proper enforcement and prosecution to become the norm,” said JPSA Chair, Howard Dembovsky.

“Whether there is a ‘limit’ or not is irrelevant. No court will convict anyone of this criminal offence if proper forensic evidence is not put before it,” he continued.

Although tens of thousands of motorists are arrested for the crime each year and no statistics are provided by the NPA, it is a known fact that the conviction rate for DUI is extremely low.

“It is our view that removing the alcohol limit entirely will only serve to drive arrests up and the conviction rate down,” Dembovsky lamented. “Although being arrested is a horrible experience, it does not have the same deterrent effect as incurring a criminal record does,” he contends.

“If the conviction rate for DUI was close to 100%, I can guarantee you that few people would take the risk, but that will only happen if evidence is put before the courts,” he concluded.

JPSA welcomes this extension and encourages motorists to make submissions on the Bill to the Committee before the new closing date (20 January 2021). Dear South Africa has reopened its user-friendly public submission portal at https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/road-traffic/ for those who wish to easily make submissions.

Expired driving licence cards, etc. extension

Important information for affected drivers:

On 3 December 2020, the Minister of Transport issued a further extension to the validity period of all learner’s licenses, driving licence cards, temporary driving permits and professional driving permits that expired or will expire from 26 March to 31 December 2020. All such cards are deemed to remain valid until 31 August 2021.

JPSA advises anyone who falls within the category above to download a copy of Government Gazette 43958 of 3 December 2020 to print a copy of page 4 thereof and to carry such copy, together with their expired licence/permit with them while driving. This is to avoid entering into roadside litigation with anyone who may not be aware of the said extension, including but not limited to law enforcement officials, security complex guards and insurance companies.

 

 

Sadly, AARTO enforcement orders are fuelling crime

Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) is gravely concerned that fraudsters continue to exploit the existence of enforcement orders issued in terms of the AARTO Act. These criminals operate under the noses of the officials at registering authorities and driving licence testing centres in Johannesburg and Tshwane. They can be very convincing, more especially when they approach unwitting motorists who just want to renew their vehicle licence disc or driving licence card with the minimum of fuss and delay.

While this phenomenon is not new, the sharp increase in the volume of enforcement orders issued by the RTIA recently has greatly aggravated the situation. Even a single enforcement order electronically blocks licensing transactions.

Unwitting motorists are usually approached by scammers while they are queuing or when they are turned away at service counters. Often, they are approached before they even enter the licensing facility’s grounds and offered “assistance”.

Soon after providing their driving licence card to these criminals, they are presented with a printout of their AARTO infringements and told to settle all of them immediately, in cash. False claims of warrants of arrest are also used to increase the urgency, as are discounts used to sweeten the deal, if they pay now.

There is no warrant of arrest under AARTO. Furthermore, the 50% discount which is provided for if the fine is paid within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of an infringement notice cannot be reinstated once it has been forfeited.

Once a person has been scammed, he or she is offered little or no assistance by the licensing authorities. They are usually referred to the SA Police Service and, in many cases, find themselves being turned away by SAPS officials who tend to say: “no crime has occurred because you willingly gave your money to these people”. This is simply not true. All victims of fraud “willingly” give their money to scammers.

“The authorities have been aware of these problems for many years,” said JPSA’s chair, Howard Dembovsky. “Although I have served on various ‘security committees’ convened by the City of Johannesburg to tackle this issue, none of them have met this year, and it seems they have been abandoned,” he continued.

Dembovsky further expressed his concerns that: “with the intended national implementation of the AARTO Amendment Act will come so-called ‘electronic service’ and this will provide new opportunities for online scammers who run very little risk of being arrested, as may be the case with those who physically lurk at licensing centres.”

The only way for motorists to mitigate the risk of falling prey to these scams is to deal with one’s traffic fines properly. Motorists can check their AARTO fines status at http://www.aarto.gov.za/index.php/query-my-fine, after which they should exercise one of their so-called “elective options”.

Although there are other platforms, JPSA advises that if one wishes to pay an AARTO fine or enforcement order, doing so at the Checkers Money Market counter or online at payCity seems to work well and immediately changes the status to “paid”. We further advise that motorists avoid paying cash to anyone and especially not to accept “assistance” from individuals that they do not know.

Motorists who wish to educate themselves regarding the processes associated with the AARTO Amendment Act may do so by visiting https://www.jp-sa.org/aarto-amendment-act-simplified/.

The AARTO Amendment Act for mere mortals

Compiled by Howard Dembovsky.

Much confusion surrounds the AARTO Act which has been in force in Johannesburg and Tshwane since 2008, and its Amendment Act which is mooted to commence nationally on 1 July 2021.

Recently, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) recycled an old advisory explaining the AARTO Act’s processes, and distributed it to the media. While it is a fairly accurate summary in terms of the current provisions of the AARTO Act, it does not explain the process which will apply if/when the AARTO Amendment Act is implemented nationally.

Although the draft regulations to the AARTO Act are not final yet, one must consider them to be the framework that will be used in the future.

The “new system” differs considerably from the current system and it is puzzling why the RTIA would choose to sow confusion among motorists who are not familiar with it. This is more especially so considering that the RTIA is the entity tasked with administering the AARTO Act and educating the public.

To assist motorists to understand what the AARTO Amendment Act will mean to them, we summarise hereunder, the processes it involves and advise motorists to familiarise themselves with it.

How traffic fines are handled now

Currently, the way traffic fines are issued and progressed by the authorities in almost every jurisdiction of the country is through using the Criminal Procedure Act. As its name implies, it is a criminal process and regards all violations of traffic law to be criminal offences. These offences are prosecuted by the NPA, mainly in the lower (Magistrates’) courts.

The AARTO Act is different. It “decriminalises” all but the most serious traffic offences and subjects them to administrative processes. It does this by categorising road traffic violations as “infringements” or “offences”. Infringements are dealt with administratively. Criminal offences are prosecuted in criminal courts.

The amended AARTO process

The amended AARTO process comprises three steps, which in turn involve several sub-processes, depending on how you, as a motorist react. Throughout its processes the duty is on the motorist to act and failure to do so will result in consequences of varying severity.

These steps are:

  1. An infringement notice;
  2. A courtesy letter; and
  3. An enforcement order.

It should be noted that an “infringement penalty levy” (“IPL”) of R100 is payable on every infringement notice the RTIA “follows up by proper administrative processes. The IPL must be paid in full and is not subject to any discount.

It is not clear whether this means that the IPL will only be payable after the infringement notice stage, when the RTIA issues a courtesy letter or whether it will be payable when the RTIA becomes involved in other processes, like considering representations. It is also not clear whether it will be scrapped if a representation, appeal, or review is successful.

Motorists can and are advised to check if they have any AARTO infringements at http://www.aarto.gov.za/index.php/query-my-fine, remembering that the current process differs considerably from the amended process.

The infringement notice

An infringement notice is either issued and served on the driver at the roadside, at the time of the alleged violation or on the registered owner of a vehicle, after the fact. It constitutes the commencement of legal proceedings against the person cited in it.

Infringement notices are issued by “issuing authorities” like SANRAL, SAPS, Metro Police, and local and provincial traffic departments, to mention but a few. It is not their function to collect the monies associated with infringement notices and they have no mandate to force anyone to pay fines at a roadblock.

  • If an infringement notice is issued and served at the time of the alleged violation, the person cited in it will obviously be aware of it because it will be handed to him or her by a traffic officer. The countdown to other processes starts immediately.
  • If an infringement notice is issued after the fact, it must be delivered to the registered owner by post or electronically.
  • If it is served by post, it must be addressed to the address nominated on eNaTIS by the registered owner and delivered by the SA Post Office.
  • If it is served electronically, any electronic means may be used. This is because the definition of “electronic service” is extremely broad. It does not only include email.
  • In both cases, the infringement notice must be issued and served within 60 days of the alleged infringement. The countdown to other processes starts after 60 days from the alleged infringement.
  • Also, in both cases, the infringement notice is deemed to have been served (received by its addressee) on the tenth day of position unless the contrary is proven.

An infringement notice sets out the details of the alleged infringement and provides the alleged infringer with various options which may be exercised within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of the infringement notice:

  • Pay the penalty (fine) at the 50% discounted rate;
  • Apply to pay in instalments, over a maximum term of six months and in so doing, to forfeit the discount;
  • Make a written representation to the RTIA setting out why one should not be held liable for the alleged infringement; or
  • In the case of infringement notices issued to registered owners of vehicles, to nominate the driver if he or she was not the driver. Doing this should see the infringement notice being cancelled and a new infringement notice being issued to the actual driver.

The courtesy letter

The function of the RTIA is to act as a debt collector for traffic fines and the fees it raises, together with considering things like written representations from motorists and administering the points demerit system.

If an alleged infringer fails to act within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of the infringement notice, the RTIA must issue a “courtesy letter”. This document removes the 50% discount and adds a R100 fee for the courtesy letter to the total payable. It also represents the first involvement of the RTIA in the process.

Once again, the alleged infringer is provided various options which may be exercised within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of the courtesy letter. These are:

  • To pay the full penalty, together with the R100 for the courtesy letter and R100 for the IPL; or
  • To make a written representation to the RTIA setting out why one should not be held liable for the alleged infringement.
  • Notably absent from these options is the ability to nominate the driver or to apply to pay in instalments.

The enforcement order

If an alleged infringer fails to act within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of the courtesy letter, the RTIA must issue an “enforcement order”. This document has the following effects:

  • It applies the demerit points to the alleged infringer’s driving licence, operator card or vehicle licence disc. More on the points demerit system later.
  • It also electronically blocks licensing transactions on eNaTIS, meaning that no driving licence, professional driving permit or vehicle licence disc may be issued.

The enforcement order attracts a further R100 fee which is added to the total payable. It may only be “complied with” by paying 100% of the penalty, together with R100 for the IPL, R100 for the courtesy letter and R100 for the enforcement order (R300 over and above the original fine amount).

The alleged infringer may apply to the RTIA for the enforcement order to be revoked, but only if he or she does so within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of the enforcement order.

Summary of the AARTO process

Making written representations

Written representations may be made to the RTIA, detailing why the alleged infringer should not be held liable for the alleged infringement. This may only be done using an AARTO 08 form. Doing anything else will result in the representation being ignored.

The form must detail all the reasons/defences one wishes to raise, and the form must be accurately completed. Failing to provide all the required information will result in the representation being summarily rejected.

  • If it is successful, the alleged infringement will be cancelled.
  • If it is unsuccessful, the alleged infringer has 32 days from the actual or presumed service to pay, or an enforcement order will be issued.
  • No mention is made in the draft regulations of the IPL being cancelled if a representation is successful.

The AARTO Tribunal

The AARTO Amendment Act introduces a part time Tribunal to deal with the affairs of approximately 13 million drivers plus almost 13 million vehicles (as of August 2020). Its function is to consider applications for appeal or review of the decision of a representations officer who rejects a written representation.

Any person who wishes to apply to the Tribunal for appeal or review must do so using the form AARTO 10 and must do so within 30 days of the decision of the representations officer.

Except in “exceptional circumstances”, the alleged infringer must stick to the contents of their original written representation when applying to the Tribunal. He or she may not introduce new evidence at that stage.

Although an alleged infringer who is not satisfied with the decision of the Tribunal may pursue the matter further, according to the draft regulations its decision is final. If an appeal or review before the Tribunal is unsuccessful, the RTIA must issue an enforcement order.

The Magistrates’ Court

If the alleged infringer is not satisfied with the decision of the Tribunal, he or she may approach the Magistrates’ Court with jurisdiction to appeal or review the decision of the Tribunal. According to the draft regulations, this must be done within 7 days of the Tribunal’s decision.

There is no mention in the draft regulations of the effects of the enforcement order being suspended if an alleged infringer approaches the Magistrates’ Court for appeal or review. This differs considerably with all other appeal processes in South Africa’s courts, where orders are suspended, pending the outcome of the appeal.

The draft regulations also regard an appeal to the Magistrates’ Court as being the end of the road for an aggrieved motorist. This too differs considerably from other legal matters which are subject to appeal to the High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Constitutional Court.

Nominating the driver

A vehicle owner may nominate the driver within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of an infringement notice. He or she may not do so after that time.

  • A form AARTO 07 must be used to nominate the driver.
  • A clear copy of the said driver’s driving licence card must be submitted together with the nomination form.

It is essential that the owner of a motor vehicle acquires and retains a clear copy of any third party’s driving licence card for purposes of nominating such driver if he or she allegedly violates the law.

Peculiarly, no provision is made to nominate the driver if the violation is categorised as a criminal offence. In such cases, the registered owner must wait for a criminal summons to be issued and served.

The points demerit system

The long-awaited part of the AARTO Act is the introduction of a points demerit system. All points demerit systems in the world have similar features, although the South African version differs inasmuch as it is subjected to administrative processes which do not involve the courts.

  • Every driver, operator or juristic entity starts with zero points;
  • Differing demerit points for each violation are prescribed in Schedule 3 to the AARTO regulations;

As infringements are incurred by drivers or vehicles, the demerit points are associated with that violation. They are applied when:

  • The penalty (fine) is paid, whether at the discounted stage or not; orWhen an enforcement order is issued or a person who is charged with a crime (“offence”) is convicted in court.

The threshold of demerit points which may be incurred without consequence is 15 points.

  • If the threshold is exceeded, the relevant driving licence card, operator card or vehicle licence disc is suspended for three months for each demerit point by which the threshold is exceeded. e.g. If 19 demerit points are incurred, the said document will be suspended for a year.
  • Driving or operating a vehicle during the prohibition period is a criminal offence, subject to a fine or imprisonment and a further six demerit points on conviction.

Once a driving licence card, operator card or vehicle licence disc has been suspended twice, again exceeding the threshold will result in it being cancelled.

  • This means that, in the case of driving licenses, the person will have to start from scratch, with a learner’s licence if he or she wishes to drive again after the lapse of the prohibition period.
  • In the case of operator cards and vehicle licence discs, the draft regulations do not make it clear how or if the relevant document can be reinstated.

Demerit points are applied differently, depending on whether the person is a natural person or a juristic entity, or is an operator:

  • Demerit points are applied to the driving licenses of natural persons.
  • Demerit points are applied to the operator cards of vehicles which are classified as operator class vehicles. In many instances, demerit points are incurred by both the driver and the operator. In others, they are incurred on the operator cards of juristic entities who fail to nominate the driver.
  • Demerit points are applied to the licence discs of vehicles owned by juristic entities which are not operators, if the proxy for the juristic entity fails to nominate the driver within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of an infringement notice.

Demerit points are forgiven and diminished by one point every three months. This is regardless of whether the alleged infringer does or does not incur further infringements. No-one can accumulate a negative number of demerit points. Being a “good driver” is not rewarded. Law-abiding motorists’ “reward”, if one thinks that a demerit points system involves punishment and rewards, is not to incur demerit points.

A few examples of fines and demerit points

Schedule 3 to the draft AARTO regulations contains over 2,600 separate charges for which a motorist or operator may be held to account. Below are just a few examples:

ViolationPenaltyDemerit points (natural persons)Demerit points (juristic entities)
Driving at 71-72 km/h in a 60 km/h zoneR400-1
Driving at 89-90 km/h in a 60 km/h zoneR3,40055
Driving at more than 90 km/h in a 60 km/h zoneCRIMINAL OFFENCE66
Failed to stop behind the line at a stop streetR1,50022
Failed to proceed when a traffic light was green R1,00011
Skipped a red traffic light – motorcycle/light motor vehicle/bakkie, etc.R1,50022
Skipped a red traffic light – operator class vehiclesR2,00033
Refused or failed to comply with a lawful order given by an authorised officerCRIMINAL OFFENCE66
Failed to carry a warning triangle (excl. motor car registered before 1 July 2006)R1,000--
Failed to display a current licence discR2,000--
Failed to licence a vehicleCRIMINAL OFFENCE66
Driver did not carry driving licence card with him/her or produced an expired driving licence cardR20003-
Driver is unlicensed to drive the class of vehicle he/she is drivingCRIMINAL OFFENCE6-
Employed or permitted another person to drive such vehicle while the said driver did not have a valid driving licence.R3,500--
Failed to pay ordinary or e-toll fee – motorcycle/light motor vehicle/bakkie, etc. – per toll plaza/gantryR500--
Failed to pay ordinary or e-toll fee – operator class vehicles – per toll plaza/gantryR1,000--
Reckless or negligent driving/driving under the influence of alcoholCRIMINAL OFFENCE6N/A
Inconsiderate drivingR1,000-1

Checking other persons’ demerit points status

Only companies who employ persons to drive their vehicles may query the demerit points statuses of their employees. They must get the written permission of the said driver to do so and must also pay a fee to the RTIA for such queries.

People and companies who let any other person (not in the employ of their company) drive their vehicles may not query such drivers’ points demerit status, except by making a PAIA application.

Allowing a person who is not licensed to drive one’s vehicle is subject to a fine of R3,500.

Driver rehabilitation programme

An undefined driver rehabilitation program is catered for in the AARTO Amendment Act. It is exclusively available to drivers whose driving licenses have been cancelled and must be paid for by that driver if he or she chooses to undergo the programme.

Successful completion of the driver rehabilitation program will diminish the demerit points on the successful candidate’s driving licence by four points. In other words, it will knock a year off the prohibition period within which that person may apply for a learner’s licence.

NOTE: All the above provisions are draft regulations which are open for public submissions until 1 December 2020. You are encouraged to go to https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/aartoregs/ and make your own submission. You can use the QR code below to go there using your mobile phone.

For more information on the AARTO Act, please visit https://www.aarto.co.za/.

JPSA and its head fully endorse the AA’s AARTO regulations submission

Spot the speed camera: The creative lengths that will be gone to in generating revenue.

Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) and its head, Howard Dembovsky in his personal capacity as a motorist, publicly endorse the submission regarding the latest draft AARTO regulations made by the Automobile Association of South Africa (the AA) on 22 October 2020.

“The latest draft regulations confirm everything that JPSA and I have been saying for over a decade, regarding the blatant commercialisation of traffic fines, and the AA has now hit the nail on the head,” said Dembovsky.  

“From the enormous increases in the fines and the administrative fees payable, to numerous new obstacles which are to be put in the way of a motorist who wishes to prove his or her innocence; these draft regulations make it clear that money and not justice or road safety is the primary focus of the AARTO Act,” he lamented.

Except where alleged infringers elect to be tried in court under its current provisions, the AARTO Act already regards traffic fines as little more than invoices.

“Should the AARTO Amendment Act be implemented nationally on 1 July 2021, where a popup Tribunal further hinders access to the lower courts, the injustices it will create are too frightening to imagine. Once regulations have been enacted, reversing them is a very tedious and costly process,” Dembovsky continued.

“In fact, the AARTO Amendment Act and its regulations now openly contradict basic principles of justice and fairness, with drivers earning minimum wage set to be hit hardest,” he concluded.

  • The AA’s submission to the RTIA may be found here.
  • The AA’s executive summary may be found here.
  • To further participate in the commenting process, please visit the DearSA legislative commenting platform or scan the QR code below. You have until 1 December 2020 to do so.