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Everything you need to know about South Africa’s incoming traffic demerit system

Everything you need to know about South Africa’s incoming traffic demerit system

A meeting of the national Aarto task team will take place in Bloemfontein before the end of February in preparation for the planned country-wide roll-out of the demerit points system.

The demerit points system was introduced in a pilot program across Gauteng in 2008, in order to penalise drivers and operators who are habitual offenders.

However, the system also rewards law-abiding road users, as it reduces 1 point every 3 months down to zero demerit points if no contraventions occur.

Based on the current system (as provided for on the official Aarto website), the following will apply, country wide, following the planned roll-out.

How can you receive a demerit?

Every person starts with 0 points and the maximum permissible number of points a driver can earn is 12. A person is allowed to drive until he/she has 12 points. Every point exceeding 12 points results in a three-month suspension of the licence.

A licence is cancelled when it has been suspended for the third time. The demerit points in respect of vehicle operators and drivers are recorded separately even if they arise out of the same incident.

When will you receive a demerit?

You will receive a demerit in the following instances:

  • When penalties and fees are paid.
  • When you apply to pay in instalments.
  • When you are convicted in court.
  • When an enforcement order is issued.

Reducing Demerits

The total number of points will be reduced by one point for every three months during which no demerit points were incurred by that person, except for when the court finds that the court process had been deliberately delayed by that person to obtain a reduction in points.

Losing your licence

If a person exceeds a total of twelve demerit points, that person will be disqualified from driving or operating a motor vehicle. The disqualification period equals in months the number of points by which the total of twelve is exceeded, multiplied by three.

A person who is so disqualified:

  • Must immediately hand in any driving licence or professional driving permit to the issuing authority for retention by such authority during the disqualification period or must remove the prescribed operator card from the vehicle in applicable cases; and
  • May not apply for a driving licence, professional driving permit or operator card during the disqualification period.

Any person who drives or operates a motor vehicle during his or her disqualification period is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both a fine and such imprisonment.


Infringement Fine amount Demerit points
Licences and miscellaneous
Driving an unregistered vehicle R500 1
Driving an unlicensed vehicle R500 1
Driving a vehicle with licence plate not visible R500 1
Driving without a driving licence R1,250 4
Driving without a seat belt R250 0
Driving under influence of intoxicating substance Determined by court 6
Driving while holding and using a cellphone R500 1
Failing to stop
Skipping a stop sign (light vehicles) R500 1
Skipping a stop sign (buses, trucks) R750 2
Skipping a red light (light vehicles) R500 1
Skipping a red light (buses, trucks) R750 2
Failing to yield to a pedestrian R500 1
Overtaking and overloading
Overtaking across a barrier line (light vehicles) R500 1
Overtaking across a barrier line (buses, trucks) R750 2
Overloading a vehicle with max 56,000kg combination mass by 12-13.99% R1,500 5
81-85km/h in a 60km/h zone R750 2
100km/h+ in a 60km/h zone Determined by court 6
106-110km/h in an 80km/h zone R1,000 3
120km/h+ in an 80km/h zone Determined by court 6
121-125km/h in a 100km/h zone R750 2
131-135km/h in a 100km/h zone R1,250 4
140km/h+ in a 100km/h zone Determined by court 6
131-135km/h in a 120km/h zone R250 0
141-145km/h in a 120km/h zone R750 2
151-155km/h in a 120km/h zone R1,250 4
160km/h+ in a 120km/h zone Determined by court 6

Why was it delayed so long?

The Demerit System was signed into law in September 1998 as part of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) according to Arrive Alive. This system, based on similar systems in Australia, and the United Kingdom, has been adapted to meet local needs.

The proposed system has been delayed for several years pending, amongst other reasons, a feasibility study and an assessment of technological requirements, law enforcement criteria and an analysis of human resources needed to ensure the successful implementation of the system.


Democratic Alliance DA

Speaking to MoneyWeb and other media this past week, Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has indicated that the DA-led municipalities of Tshwane and Johannesburg will officially withdraw from the pilot program.

Msimanga cited a failure to implement the system effectively and other financial concerns as reasons for the planned withdrawal.

The two municipalities will have little choice but to follow the rest of the country should the planned country-wide roll-out go ahead – however this could be the first indication of stiff resistance to the new system from opposition parties.

Read: These are the worst hijacking hotspots in South Africa

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  • Literally Mario

    The speeding demerits feel more punishing than the other offenses.

    Also, what happens if you drive 128km/h in a 100km/h zone?

    • victory

      Remember speed kills

      • Loman

        kak man, speed has never killed anyone.
        (unless you are talking about the drug)

        Coming to a sudden stop is what kills you.

        • Emperor Mong

          Inappropriate speed kills.
          Good car, good road, good weather – no problem.
          And old skedonk, with poor lights, at night, in the rain, on a potholed road – there, 30km/h would be inappropriate.
          Common sense – but this system is just a money-making racket, based on yardsticks, not logic.

          • Loman

            I’m all for a south african “autobahn”

            But if you look at how our tax money goes to waste and how poorly implemented our laws are, i don’t have high hopes.

            But theoretically it is possible, but theoretically you can break your thumb off in your arse if you use enough force as well.

          • Emperor Mong

            Aaah yes. German efficiency, with massive cost of license, serious enforcement (you get torn a new one for tailgaiting), skilled drivers, roadworthy vehicles, etc etc etc.
            The Hun believes in ‘ordnung’, because it makes sense, in an unselfish way.
            Our mob? We adopt a ‘screw the rest of you’ attitude in most things.
            I’ve heard it so many times over the years “I had 17 shooters, drove home, and got away with it!”
            ‘I was doing 170 down the N1!”
            BUT had they got nicked, it would have been “how can I wriggle out of this one?”
            Not “it’s a fair cop…”

      • Speed was not the reason for speed limits, fuel consumption was. Yes some of us can actually drive at “speed”

        • Wollie Verstege

          Funny how few people seems to know this

      • Steven Seagull

        That’s what our gardener said when we asked why he did so little all day.

  • Lone Stranger

    Firstly, I thought AARTO was dead from the start. They probably still are.

    Secondly, If this was rolled out in 2008, why did Johannesburg still have Taxi’s (we all know they will make up 12 point in less than half a day). Not even to mention government officials (they are above the law apparently) having their licenses revoked within a year.

    Thirdly, the one infringement “Driving without a driving license” having 4 points was a joke. If a person do not have a license at all, there is no license to take away and he/she will continue to drive without one, even if they have 12 points.

    In conclusion, I do not know if this government are born stupid or what, but our Law system is very good in the country to start off with. The only problem is, even if you do have such a good law system, if it does not get enforced, it is useless.

    That is the problem we have here. They can make this demerit system as strict as possible, but if they do not enforce it, what is the use?

    • Geriatrix

      Perhaps we should wait to see how taxi drivers survive the new administration.

      AARTO could help to make roads safe if it is one tool of many used by a functioning system designed to improve safety.
      The present fragmented enforcement of laws rather than a perpetual drive to increase safety will not work.

      • Lone Stranger

        I do admire your optimism, but this is Africa. AARTO has existed for a long time and they couldn’t stop people from violating the road laws to start off with. I don’t think this system will be successful.

        We all know that Taxis will still misbehave. If they were strict, Taxis would have abided by the laws of the road. We also know that some political and police officials own some of these taxi companies, so the corruption alone will make this fail.

        I’m not trying to be a pessimist. I’m only being realistic.

      • Aristophanes

        While I sympathise with your feelings, I’m afraid I’m with LS. There’s absolutely no way a system like this will work except to be another irritation to the very small portion of the country’s population that actually obey the traffic laws.

        The sooner we realise we’re in just another Third World country the better. Keep your bribe money handy because that’s what it’s all really about – extracting more illegal cash from the motorist.

    • Visionery1 .

      You misunderstood, driving without a license when not having a license places you in a negative position when you eventually get your license. 🙂 It’s like borrowing against future wages.

      • Lone Stranger

        True, but you also know that some people do not even bother to get a license. They would rather buy a fake one.

    • MarvinTheParanoidAndroid

      Why would Taxi drivers care? They don’t get pulled over anyway, so how will they get demerited?

      They flaunt the law in front of traffic cops and they don’t get pulled over.

      • Lone Stranger

        Exactly. This is to milk the law abiding citizen.

  • victory

    And how point will taken for

  • Cthulhu

    why waste taxpayers money on this, when implementation and enforcement is 0 ?

  • Mario Antoniades

    If only they put so much effort into fighting crime.

    • Blapartheid Zulu

      That would be unconstitutional and crime against humanity

      • Lone Stranger

        You just made my day man XD. But I get you. It is actually true.

  • MP3

    this does nothing to actually make the roads safer…

    • Loman

      If it gets implemented properly.

      • MP3

        in the last 20 years, can you provide any examples of things that were implemented properly besides corruption and crime?

        • Blapartheid Zulu

          Yes, our tax system?

          • Loman

            No man, that is only implemented properly so that there are more money that can be stolen.

          • MP3 said BESIDES corruption and crime

        • Shane Barker

          yes mmmmmmmmmmmmmm maybe , mmmmmmmmmm ok I give up NOTHING

        • Aristophanes

          YES I CAN!! The Booze buses in Durbs that were just brought in to nab the Sharks supporters on their way home to Durban North after another braai at King’s Park.

    • RodneyVikens

      Didn’t you know by having your drivers licence with you your driving skills improve? =)

  • Blapartheid Zulu

    Taxi drivers will have tons of driver license for you to deduct. Or no license at all.

    • Emperor Mong

      Or members of the masikhomo taxi association will blockade the city until the fines are scrapped?

      • Victor

        Or taxis are exempted.
        Wasn’t it in Durban where Taxis wanted to be exempted from speed fines…

        • Emperor Mong

          I recall something about wanting to be exempt from ALL fines, as (their argument) ‘nobody would get to work’.

  • Loman

    After driving for 15 years without receiving any fines, i’m sure this demerit system will not have any impact on me whatsoever.

    It might have an impact on the arseholes driving like imbeciles around me, but i doubt it.

    • Emperor Mong

      Aah, the imbeciles.
      Now, IF there was moving violation enforcement, where guys get stopped and summonsed – or issued spotfines – then maybe they wouldn’t be imbeciles?
      But no, setting up behind camo net is great… just send the infringement notice, so that the guys can ignore them.

  • Andy

    “You will receive a demerit … when you apply to pay in installments.”
    So basically, you lose more points if you’re poor? Haha such a ridiculous rule

    • PilotLight

      4 point for not having a drivers license, yeah that’s really going to show them. The only upside to this is the standardization of fines nationally, no more municipalities pulling fines out their rear end depending on how much they are still short on their budgets.

  • This is stupid. They can’t even enforce the rules as they are

    • Emperor Mong

      Do they want to?
      Serious question.
      Every year at Xmas (and after every major road tragedy) we hear platitudes from the top, but very little is down to change the way the laws are enforced.
      As other have written, it seems government sees the motorist as a cash cow… and local government even more so.
      A few years back, traffic cops rejected the idea of being fitted with bodycams. Why? Because then their performance, attitude, and requests for ‘cooldrink’ would be caught on camera!
      How many motorists pay bribes? How many report said bribe, or bribe attempt?
      Guaranteed many won’t report it, because they know very little will be done about it.

  • Wurnman

    A little voice in my head is telling me this is their next ploy at making copious amounts of money off of us.

  • Visionery1 .

    Taxi drivers are already above the law, demerits will make no difference in their lives.

    • Lone Stranger

      My point exactly.

  • Shane Barker

    ok so if I pay the fine do I still get a demerit point

  • Shane Barker


    • Steven Seagull

      Must be a photo from overseas, or posed

  • bengine

    This is awesome – roads are going to be empty in three months – assuming they can find enough cops to enforce …

  • TheRock

    Once again… the demerit system has its main emphasis on SPEEDING, which is very easy to enforce with speed cameras with little work effort from traffic cops … The negligent drivers, who go through red lights and overtake over solid lines, etc, which causes the majority of road accidents, once again get very lenient punishment, with only single point demerits for these very dangerous infringements, and in most cases they get none because the traffic cops are all manning speed cameras and are not really interested in catching negligent drivers besides speeding.

    • Konstabel Koekemoer

      So true, you can race through a red light and only get 2 points but if you get 6 points for doing 100km/h in a 60 zone. Now normally I would say 100 in a 60 zone is reckless but if you see how many places they are now putting 60km/h signs outside of build up areas (like on the way to Hartebeespoort dam) it is easy for even a law abiding driver to not notice a sign and think the limit is still 100km/h.

      • Emperor Mong

        “how many places they are now putting 60km/h signs outside of build up areas..”

        Yep. Money-making exercise.

      • TheRock

        One point for going through a red light, for light motor vehicles. 2 points is for trucks… sick..

    • Riaan

      I get SO annoyed by people going through red lights. The law simply don’t care to enforce this, because it requires them to do some actual work to catch these offenders. Anything they can’t automate via camera and software billing system, they are VERY reluctant at doing.

      • Graeme

        They could quite easily have cameras for robot enforcement. They have a few in Durban and I’ve seen them in pe. Whether they work currently is another story

    • Lacrimose Wolfe

      …given the daily gridlock, holey roads, speeding is becoming less possible! There’s no demerits for being a total selfish, moron either. The f-wits along the N1 every morning doing 60-80 in a 120k zone should have their cars taken away. If they want to go slowly, they can buy a bicycle or walk. Ja and as u said, solid line crossing. City of CT could make gazillions a year just by policing two ramps I know of onto the N2 in-bound, every morning.

  • disqus_8JVZTtNOj3

    Taxis? You will never be able to fight them. If they get fined, they will blockade all roads, until you lift the fine. This is why the government was too scared to make them pay for e-toll.

  • Visionery1 .

    Cellphone users could lose their license within a week… if there’s enough manpower to nail them in the first place. there isn’t now, why should it be any different under a demerit system.

  • Number4Oar

    And the bribes will be about 50% of the value of the fines.

  • Robochop

    Yet another useless system by our useless government.
    This will create more unlicensed drivers on the road as the public transport in this country is also useless.

    • Emperor Mong

      MyCiti works, actually.
      But – surprise surprise – the muppets at Cosatu et al throw barriers against its expansion.
      CT council try to evict (non-rent paying) Wynberg tenants, to expand the network, which will benefit hundreds of thousands of folk.
      Cheap political point-scoring, which hinders expansion.

      • Lacrimose Wolfe

        Yep Myciti is really great if you live/work along its routes. As we see today in #SONA2017 Revisited, the objective is to fight progress by any means necessary. Revisiting the past is far more fascinating than planning for the future. Anti-progress communities such as the Amish, manage to house, feed,educate and transport themselves. This govt and it’s alliance partners can’t even get that right.

  • Riaan

    So driving 136-140 is ok?

    • Tyron van Greunen

      you’re also ok at 146-150

      • koos

        can do that only when shifting into 3rd gear

    • Ksa

      Only in a 60 zone

  • Ksa

    This system works brilliantly in the UK but they enforce it and you play heavily if not adhered to. I got a fine for driving with a single L-plate on my 125cc. This had a massive impact on my 4×4 and Motorcycle insurance cost the following year to the tune of £800 more expensive. If you drive without vehicle tax your car gets taken, same with license and car insurance. If you don’t product it, they crush your car. Simples…

    • Emperor Mong

      aaah yes.
      But remember, insurance in SA is not compulsory.
      (which is why the Road Accident Fund saw its arse, but I digress).

    • Lacrimose Wolfe

      U have to understand South Africans, who are the best at being the worst at most things. This demerit system will be seen as a target to achieve, not a punitive measure. There will be no real or meaningful consequences because there is no real or meaningful law enforcement

    • BrS

      Ways to get around the demerits.

      The car crushing is typical muppet UK government overkill. Probably somebody profiting off it too, like many of their schemes.

      • Emperor Mong

        Maybe if they crushed a few cars here, then people would realise ‘Oops, we shouldn’t do x, y and z’?

  • Tau’ri

    I can’t keep up with the fast speed things happen in this country: it’s only in 1999 that this system was first mentioned – are we sure they won’t make a rushed decision? Shouldn’t they think about it just a little bit longer?

  • Fyko van der Molen

    Someone is driving around with my cloned number plate picking up speeding tickets.

    The Traffic Department makes no effort to determine that my Land Rover does not appear in their speed-camera photo. They stupidly just send me the fine. They could take 2 seconds to check the pic against the registration, but that’s too much trouble for the useless twits.

    Now I can pay the other guy’s fine and collect some points, or I can take days off to go to court and lose my salary.

    My choice.

    A$$#%les all of them

    • Tyke

      I once received a speeding fine, with a photo of a red Mercedes sports car. Shame really, as my car was a Fiat Uno. I would have gladly payed the fine if they could have presented me with the Mercedes.

  • Guilex

    again, who will enforce this law?

  • Bushy Harvey

    there will be no taxis on the road, as every drive will be disqualified from driving.
    thats the only good thing to come out of this, however knowing how volitile these taxi guys are they will block every street throughout the country until this system is SCRAPPED. now thats a FACT

  • Akella

    Speed doesn’t kill, as well as alco. But idiots in taxi – that’s the main problem! Every single taxi converts road into RODEO – jumping between cars to reach … what? Nothing, but mess and traffic on the road.
    And for stopping taxi in inappropriate place – what is punishment?? Why not to confiscate their “coffin on the wheels”!

  • Robert Dixon

    Great idea but will it be properly applied?
    Don’t think so.
    But it is interesting to speculate that if this WERE to be done correctly there would only be 13 taxi drivers driving legally after a few weeks!

  • Tau’ri

    “Paul’s Taxi Services:
    We erase all kinds of demerit points.
    R30 per point – bulk discounts for 10 or more driver’s licenses.”

  • RodneyVikens

    Driving without a driving licence. R1,250

    What a freaking joke. KFC prices surging?

  • Ryanza

    “Failing to stop” vs “Speeding”

    81-85km/h in a 60km/h zone R750 2 points

    Skipping a red light (light vehicles) R500 1 point

    The more things change the more they stay the same. There’ll be no more licensed taxi drivers left after day one… oh wait, there’ll be plenty, no change predicted there.

    At least they got the “Driving under influence of intoxicating substance Determined by court 6 points” half correct.

    If only all were equal in eyes of the policing and prosecution process.

    On Umgeni Road in Durban they have been trapping in rush-hour traffic regularly recently but never in the evenings when cars are racing along at probably double the speed limit or faster. Its just so obviously a money making scheme with zero intention at creating safer roads.

    Typical brainless tactics.

  • “Overtaking across a barrier line (light vehicles) –

    Can’t be… im on a scooter and got a R2500 for just crossing a solid line on the N1 in Cape Town.

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