This is how the point demerit system actually works under South Africa’s new road laws

President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Aarto Amendment Bill into law.

The act establishes a new point demerit system with drivers penalised for breaking various road rules.

Speaking at an event on Sunday (18 August), transport minister Fikile Mbalula said that all traffic fines across the country will now carry the same penal values, with the ultimate aim being to remove reckless and dangerous drivers from the country’s roads.

According to Justice Project South Africa’s Howard Dembovsky, not all infringements will carry demerit-points, with roughly half of the infringements contemplated in schedule 3 of the Aarto regulations carrying no demerit points at all.

However, Dembovsky warned that the points can accumulate very quickly – especially for people who “seem to think that the speed limit is a mere suggestion”.

“You may incur no more than 12 demerit points without your licence being suspended,” he said.

“On the 13th point, and for every point thereafter, your licence, operator card or permit issued in terms of road transport legislation will be suspended for three months for each point over 12.

“For example, if you incur 15 demerit points, the suspension period will be nine months.”

While the points and fines may change as the system prepares for a national roll-out, the tables below give an overview of how the points may be allocated as currently set out by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA):

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

Losing points

Dembovsky said that demerit points attached to driving licences will reduce at a rate of one point every three months.

By comparison, points attached to operator cards will reduce at a rate of one point every three months that the vehicle in question does not incur any further demerit-points.

“Once a driving licence or operator card has been suspended twice, it is cancelled on the third occasion,” he said.

“A yet to be defined rehabilitation program for habitual infringers features in the new Áarto Act.

“A habitual infringer’ is defined as an infringer, operator or a juristic person who, in terms of section 25 (of the act), incurs demerit points resulting in a disqualification more than two times. In other words, one whose driving licence, operator card or permit has already been cancelled.”

The act states that upon disqualification, motorists will have 32 days to hand their licence to a traffic authority. They may then apply to have their licence handed back to them after the disqualification period ends.

Service outlets 

Speaking to BusinessTech in April, Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) spokesperson Monde Mkalipi said that new service outlets will be rolled out at licensing centres across the country in preparation for the new road regulations.

The outlets have two main priorities: public information and services, he said.

“These outlets will be the hub of public education – informing motorists of their rights and options as contained in the Aarto Act,” he said.

“Previously we had a culture of ‘guilty as fined’, but under the new regime, we need to inform South Africans that if they commit an infringement it is not necessarily a criminal offence.”

Mkalipi said the outlets will specifically focus on informing motorists of the following five options:

  • If you commit an infringement you have 32 days in which to pay the fine and receive a 50% discount;
  • If you commit an infringement you can always dispute it using ‘representation’ to prove that there are particular circumstances behind why you infringed. Mkalipi provided the example of breaking the speed limit while rushing a child to the hospital. “You can always provide documents that show that on this particular date and at this particular time I was rushing my child,” he said. “You can then apply for your infringement notice to be cancelled”;
  • Any infringement that exceeds R750 can be paid for in instalments;
  • In the case where someone else is driving your car, you can indicate that it was not you who infringed and the fine can be re-routed to the actual infringer;
  • You can elect to have your infringements taken to court directly.

The outlets will also provide forms to directly deal with the above issues.

“There is a form for representation, there is a form for paying for instalments, a form to elect to go to court and so on,” Mkalipi said.

“You can submit this form on the spot provided you have attached the necessary documents and information.

“It is very critical that motorists know about Aarto before its implementation. That’s why we are prioritising public education and making sure that all of these services are available at every outlet.

Read: Drivers urged to ‘travel in groups’ as crime hits one of South Africa’s busiest highways

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This is how the point demerit system actually works under South Africa’s new road laws