The Automobile Association of South Africa has called out government for its plans to add a “stealth tax” to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act.

The news comes after the inclusion of a so-called “Infringement Penalty Levy” in the recently published draft regulations for the Aarto Act.

“With regards to the Infringement Penalty Levy, the regulations directly imply the imposition of a tax. In this case, it refers to a fee payable for every infringement notice issued to motorists,” the AA said in a statement.

“On our interpretation of the draft regulation, this means an additional R100 is added to each fine issued, regardless of the value of the fine or its associated demerit points. In other words, if a motorist receives a R200 or R2 000 fine, an additional R100 must be added for the Infringement Penalty Levy, which amounts to a tax for actually receiving the fine,” explained the Association.

The AA added that assuming 20 million infringement notices were issued annually, this would amount to a R2-billion “windfall” for the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), with a single line of legislation.

“A good analogy would be to consider Sars charging every taxpayer a fee for submitting their tax returns. It’s an unacceptable fee, and in the case of minor infringements, may nearly double the fine payable,” noted the AA.

Apart from this fee, the Association said it was “unconscionable” that private motorists would be forced to pay up to R240 simply to enquire as to the status of their demerit points, and noted with concern that the enquiry fees for companies run into thousands of rands.

“One would expect that an easy online system (unlike the current system used for licence renewals) be made available to all motorists for demerit point checks to be made. Sadly, no provision is made for online enquiries within Aarto’s draft regulations, meaning the system is complicated and cumbersome,” said the Association

The AA added that upon further review of the draft regulations, it remained convinced they were geared “more towards revenue collection than actually dealing effectively with road deaths, or creating a safer driving environment in South Africa”.

“A clear thread throughout the draft regulations is that of revenue collection – monies payable, fees and penalties – with little or no regard for the actual values of infringements linked to demerit points.”

The AA said it would deliver a formal submission on behalf of its members relating to the amendments to the relevant authorities ahead of the 10 November 2019 deadline.

“Over 50 years ago, the AA called for a demerit points system to be introduced and we continue to support this notion. Based on evidence from other countries this type of legislation can be effective in making roads safer. However, the recent Amendment Act and these new draft regulations do not convince us that Aarto, in its current form, is that intended legislation,” concluded the AA.