The Department of Transport was set to introduce the new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Amendment Act in June 2020, with the implementation of the system now delayed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Law firm Eversheds Sutherland said that the Aarto system will be used for traffic offences where an alleged offender has the option of paying a fine, with the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) established to administer the system.
Under the new regulations, public prosecutors will no longer be able to reduce penalties in the Aarto system. The act will also introduce significant changes from the criminal procedure system, the firm said.
Eversheds Sutherland said that Section 17(5) of the Act makes it an infringement if the owner of a motor vehicle does not have the required particulars of any person who drives or is in charge of the vehicle.
They are compelled to keep the following information on persons driving the vehicle:
- Full names;
- Residential address;
- Postal address;
- A copy or extract of the person’s acceptable identification (ID or driving licence card).
“Section 73 of the National Road Traffic Act applies where the owner does not have the details of the driver of his/her vehicle,” the firm said. “This therefore means that the owner will be presumed to have driven the vehicle if the driver is unknown to the authorities.”
Section 32 of the Act provides that after 10 days of posting a notice by registered mail it is presumed a person has received it.
“This means that a person has to prove that they have not received a notice by way of an affidavit, and it is not the duty of the authority who posted the notice to show that they were served with a notice,” the firm said.
Eversheds Sutherland said that drivers have to complete an Aarto 27 form to allow their employers access to their demerit points. The form is only valid for a 12-month period.
“Companies must nominate the drivers who are responsible for infringements on an Aarto 07 form. The issuing authority must then withdraw the notice against the company and charge the driver for the infringement.
“If the nomination is not correct, the notice will be re-issued to the company. A driver who is nominated may not re-nominate and the initial nomination must contain the correct driver information.”
The act also provides for a system whereby a person, operator or juristic person who is not an operator, pays the penalty and incurs points when a traffic infringement is committed.
Provisions for a ‘juristic person’ who is not an operator was included in the 2019 Amendment Act. This term refers to companies, close corporations, trusts, and the like that have motor vehicles that are licensed in the juristic person’s name but do not require operator cards, Eversheds Sutherland said.
A motor vehicle licence disc will be suspended if the vehicle accrues more than 15 demerit points.
“The offender/infringer receives a penalty, and in addition to the penalty, he/she also receives the demerit points allocated in Schedule 3 to the specific infringement or offence.
“If the demerit points exceed the maximum points (15 points), a person, operator or juristic person who is not an operator will be disqualified from driving or using the vehicle for a certain period of time (3 months for every point exceeding 15 points).”
Eversheds Sutherland said that a person’s driving licence card and the operator card of a motor vehicle must be handed in for the duration of the disqualification period.
“Upon a third disqualification, the licences will be cancelled, and such person must apply for a new learner licence and driving licence once the disqualification period is over.”
Commentary by Peter van Niekerk (managing partner), Donovan Avenant (partner) and Mavi Maphumulo (associate) of law firm Eversheds Sutherland.