On the 1st of July, 2021, the Department of Transport will be implementing the AARTO Amendment Act despite many experts and road users having many questions that are yet to be answered, with the Automobile Association being one of the fiercest critics of this new system.
As mentioned above, the AARTO system will be based on demerits that are added to your name with each infringement. The breakdown of these points is as follows:
|Violation||Penalty||Demerit points (natural persons)||Demerit points (juristic entities)|
|Failed to pay ordinary or e-toll fee – motorcycle or light motor vehicle or bakkie, etc. – per toll plaza or gantry||R500||–||–|
|Driving at 71-72 km/h in a 60 km/h zone||R400||–||1|
|Employed or permitted another person to drive such vehicle while the said driver did not have a valid driving licence.||R3 500||–||–|
|Driving at 89-90 km/h in a 60 km/h zone||R3 400||5||5|
|Driver did not carry driving licence card with them or produced an expired driving licence card||R2 000||3||–|
|Skipped a red traffic light – operator class vehicles||R2 000||3||3|
|Failed to display a current licence disc||R2 000||–||–|
|Skipped a red traffic light – motorcycle or light motor vehicle or bakkie, etc.||R1 500||2||2|
|Failed to stop behind the line at a stop street||R1 500||2||2|
|Inconsiderate driving||R1 000||–||1|
|Failed to proceed when a traffic light was green||R1 000||1||1|
|Failed to pay ordinary or e-toll fee – operator class vehicles – per toll plaza or gantry||R1 000||–||–|
|Failed to carry a warning triangle (excl. motor car registered before 1 July 2006)||R1 000||–||–|
|Refused or failed to comply with a lawful order given by an authorised officer||Criminal offence||6||6|
|Reckless or negligent driving or driving under the influence of alcohol||Criminal offence||6||N/A|
|Failed to licence a vehicle||Criminal offence||6||6|
|Driving at more than 90 km/h in a 60 km/h zone||Criminal offence||6||6|
|Driver is unlicensed to drive the class of vehicle he/she is driving||Criminal offence||6||–|
The main aspect to understand about AARTO is that traffic violations are now categorised as infringements and offences with the former being dealt with administratively and the latter, via prosecution in criminal courts. Thus, an infringement will not result in a criminal record while an offence will.
What do the demerit points entail exactly? Once the act takes effect next month, each driver will start with zero points. With each infringement and offence, points will be added to their name. Once you reach 15 points, your driver’s licence will be suspended for three months. Every point incurred after you reach this amount adds an additional three months (e.g. 16 points = a six month suspension).
Once you reach three suspensions, your driver’s licence will be permanently suspended, forcing you to retake your learner’s and driver’s licence tests. If you are caught driving while under suspension, you will be subjected to a fine or imprisonment plus a further six demerit points on conviction. In order to clear points off your licence, you will be required to maintain a clean record for three months in order to deduct one point.
So what happens when you are slapped with an infringement? Once this has been issued, the receiving party has 32 days to pay the penalty at a 50 per cent discount. If you would like to contest the infringement, you do have the option of making a representation with the RTIA via a sworn statement. This will be forwarded to an independent representations officer who will decide whether you are liable for the penalty or not.
If your appeal is rejected, you may opt to be tried in court or be required to pay the penalty in full in addition to the costs of the representation officer and the appeal process. If you do not have the funds to do so, the RTIA will offer a payment plan.
What if it was your vehicle but you were not behind the wheel? The AARTO system allows you to nominate another driver within the first 32 days. To do so, you will have to submit the nominee’s full name, residential and postal address, contact details and a copy of the driver’s acceptable identification such as an I.D. document or passport. This process can take up to 14 days.
AARTO will be initiated in South Africa in three phases. The first introduces the demerit points for speeding, dangerous overtaking and other reckless driving as well as road-sign infringements and roadworthy offences. Included as well, is failing to drive with a valid driving licence or professional driving permit, and failure to have a roadworthy certificate for a vehicle.
With phase two, demerit points will be allocated to offences and infringements relating to the economic sector. This includes the protection of roads and bridges through overload control and cross-border road transport permits. The failure to pay licence fees will be added to the list of offences and infringements that carry demerit points.
The final phase will add offences and infringements to those who have failed to update addresses and other relevant information of owners, operators, drivers, cross-border road transport permit holders and operating licence holders.