Western Cape to discuss ‘hair raising’ driving demerit system

The Western Cape Provincial Parliament is to hold public hearings on the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill in Cape Town.

The first hearing is expected to start on Thursday, 15 February 2018 and will form part of a number of expected hearings before the National Council of Provinces votes on the bill.

The bill seeks to amend the AARTO Act which has been in operation on a trial basis in Pretoria and Johannesburg. One of the objectives of the Act is to penalise offenders of traffic offences through the allocation of demerit points and to reward good behaviour through a reduction in points over time.

In a statement on Wednesday, Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) strongly encouraged motorists to take part in the hearing process.

“The AARTO Amendment Bill seeks to amend many of the current provisions of the AARTO Act, in preparation for the national implementation of the AARTO Act, whereafter the long awaited points-demerit system is expected to be introduced,” said JPSA’s chairperson, Howard Dembovsky.

“This may sound like good news to law-abiding motorists who have grown tired of the lawlessness on our roads, but there are numerous provisions of the currently applicable AARTO Act which, along with the proposed amendments contained in the AARTO Amendment Bill will literally make your hair stand on end,” he said.

“Whereas motorists are currently permitted to elect to exercise their constitutional right to a fair trial if they believe that they are not guilty, the AARTO Amendment Bill removes this “option” and replaces it with a Tribunal which may only be approached if one makes an unsuccessful written representation,” he said.

“Upon such an approach, which must be made within 30 days of the adverse outcome of a representation, the fee prescribed by the Minister of Transport must be paid to the Tribunal, for it to review the decision of a representations officer.”

The JPSA said it was not aware of any scheduled public hearings in the other eight provinces, but would notify the public if or when any other events are announced.

Demerit system

The AARTO amendment bill was passed in the National Assembly in September 2017, promising a major overhaul to the country’s current driving system – including a new demerit system; a centralised traffic body; the end of roadblocks; as well as a dedicated rehabilitation programme.

Under the new system, every person starts with zero points and the maximum number of points a driver can earn is 12. A person is allowed to drive until he/she has 12 points, with every point exceeding that number resulting in a three-month suspension of a licence.

Demerits are given per violation, not per incident, so it’s possible to rack up many points in any one incident. A licence will be cancelled when it has been suspended for the third time.

A person who has had their licence suspended needs to hand it in at the ‘issuing authority’, where it will be held for the duration of the suspension, and they will not be able to apply for any new licences.

Dembovsky has previously warned that the demerit system would leave motorists powerless to defend themselves. “They’ve turned traffic-law enforcement into one thing, and one thing only – and that’s a revenue stream,” he said.

The table below details the applicable fines and demerits for infringements:

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

Read: This is how long you’ll sit in traffic in South Africa’s 10 major cities

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Western Cape to discuss ‘hair raising’ driving demerit system