South Africa’s new driving demerit system: here are the extra costs you can expect

South African civil society groups and watchdogs have warned that government is adding a number of hidden costs and ‘stealth taxes’ to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act.

The act was signed into law in August 2019, introducing the country to a new driving demerit system, among other traffic changes.

However, on Friday (11 October) the Department of Transport published draft regulations relating to the Act, introducing a number of controversial changes.

According to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), these changes are geared more towards revenue collection than actually dealing effectively with road deaths, or creating a safer driving environment in South Africa.

Some of the most notable changes are outlined below.

A R100 penalty that is automatically applied to each fine

The AA said that the act will see the introduction of a so-called Infringement Penalty Levy – a fee that is payable for every infringement notice issued to motorists.

“On our interpretation of the draft regulation, this means an additional R100 is added to each fine issued, regardless of the value of the fine or its associated demerit points,” the AA said.

“In other words, if a motorist receives a R200 or R2,000 fine, an additional R100 must be added for the Infringement Penalty Levy, which amounts to a tax for actually receiving the fine.”

Civil society group Outa said that there is no discount available on this R100 levy.

You will pay to find out how many demerit points you have

The AA said that private motorists must pay up to R240 simply to enquire as to the status of their demerit points.

For fleet operator and companies, this means that the enquiry fees could run into thousands of rands, it said.

Outa said that motorists can also expect to pay R60 per report for copies of infringement reports.

You may pay for contesting fines

Outa said that contesting fines is risky and will cost motorists money.

“Those who pay within 28 days get a 50% discount,” it said.

“Paying late or contesting fines attracts extra fees: R100 for a ‘courtesy letter’ reminder and R100 for an enforcement order confirming the fine and demerits.”

You could end up paying for e-tolls

While the government has been quiet in recent months on the status of e-tolls, Outa said that the new draft regulations open the door for the controversial tolling scheme.

Schedule 3 of the regulations  include charge codes 3820 and 3820 which state that the motorist:  “Failed to comply with the directions conveyed by a road traffic sign by using a toll road without paying the toll charge.”

“For vehicles which do not require a roadworthy certificate (think of bicycles and donkey carts) the discounted fine is R125 with no demerits, for vehicles which do require an RWC the discounted fine is R250 plus one demerit,” Outa said.

“We’ve raised this issue before as a concern that it will be use d against e-toll defaulters but it’s still in the schedule.”

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South Africa’s new driving demerit system: here are the extra costs you can expect