Our attorneys in Cape Town have been anticipating the long-awaited roll out of the AARTO Bill which has finally been passed.
A 10 year-long speculation and discussion regarding potential processes and methods which can be implemented to ensure road safety in South Africa has resulted in the AARTO Bill.
The AARTO bill received majority vote of the National Assembly in March this year and is now awaiting President Ramaphosa’s signature to legalise it.
The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offense bill will serve as a means to reduce the number of traffic infringement offenders and especially re-offenders, ultimately making our roads safer to use.
A penalty and demerit system will be put into place whereby points will be allocated to the driver and their vehicle with each committed offense. These points are cumulative and will be issued along with a fine which is relative to the traffic violation.
Every South African driver will begin with zero points. Then, depending on the seriousness of the violation, any amount between 1 and 6 points will be allocated to the driver.
Once the driver receives a total of 12 points to their name, their licence will be suspended for up to 12 months. This means that the driver will be unable to drive for a period of at least one year.
Should any driver receive a total of 3 suspensions, their drivers’ licence will be nullified with immediate effect.
In such cases, the driver will be required to reapply for their learners’ licence and once obtained, they will need to redo their drivers license from the very beginning.
Until the driver has paid every outstanding fine issued to them, they will be barred from renewing their licence.
This demerit system can be considered unconstitutional in that the method used to allocate points and issue fines will no longer be via registered mail.
All initial and follow-up correspondence will be delivered through email and mobile messaging services respectively.
If the driver of a vehicle, or the vehicle itself is registered under to a business at the time of the offense, the company will need to notify the driver of the violation within 32 days of the first notification.
Should the company fail to notify the driver so that he or she may take the necessary action, the responsibility for the offense, fine as well as demerit will fall on the shoulders of the company in question.
Taxi associations, courier companies and road transport companies will be most affected by this ruling which will ultimately impact the South African economy negatively.
Should a driver commit an offense while using a someone else’s vehicle, the true owner of the vehicle will need to follow certain steps in order to prove their innocence and divert the penalty back to the offending driver.
The innocent driver will need to provide an affidavit which states their innocence as well as the full details of the offending driver including their full names, ID number and proof of residence.
In addition, the offending driver will need to provide an affidavit stating their admission of guilt for the offense committed while using the innocent driver’s vehicle.
Any driver who wishes to dispute the validity of infringement, whether or not they are guilty of an offense or the inaccuracy of the demerits allocated to them will need to approach the Road Traffic Infringement Agency.
Should the dispute or attempted resolution fail, the driver may appeal to a Special Appeals Tribunal. Due to the lengthy process involved with such an appeal, the revocation of an innocent motorist’s licence may take place which will result in further lengthy processes to have it reinstated.
Once the AARTO bill has been legalised, South African drivers will no longer have the option to have an attorney represent them in a court challenged claim.
Brand new infrastructure and supporting technology will be required to effectively monitor the demerits and violations.
Furthermore, human resources, additional staff and other related departments will be needed for the administration and maintenance of the new system nationwide. With this will come the creation of several unnecessary silos.
The rollout of this new system will be time-consuming and will result in an enormous bottle-neck effect with regards to the payment of current traffic fines.
Additionally, the opportunity for further corruption is imminent as motorists will make strong attempts to avoid the allocation of demerits to their record.
Considering all the above, the implementation and administration of this system will place a massive burden on the country’s taxpayers who are already subject to exorbitant tax fees.
Our attorneys in Brackenfell, Cape Town are available to offer professional legal advice on matters related to the AARTO Bill.
For more information, contact our attorneys in Cape Town or our attorneys in Sandton for expert legal assistance.
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