South Africa’s incoming driving laws face a serious road block

 ·8 Jun 2021

Civil society group Outa says that it will consider approaching the South African courts to postpone the rollout of the Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act, which is scheduled to come into effect from 1 July.

Outa told Afrikaans newspaper Beeld that it is currently awaiting a court hearing on the constitutionality of the Act, which is scheduled for October, and that the Aarto should be deferred until this challenge is heard.

Outa’s argument centres around the wide-ranging powers given to the national government by the bill and the loss of rights and responsibilities that are supposed to be conferred on government and municipalities.

The group said that it will first approach government to ask for the postponement, failing which it will approach the courts.

The Aarto and combined demerit system will penalise drivers and fleet operators who are guilty of traffic offences or infringements by imposing demerit points that could lead to the suspension or cancellation of licences, professional driving permits or operator cards.

It will also encourage the payment of fines and reduce the burden on South African courts, by removing the initial option to elect to appear in court.

The number of points incurred will be dependent on the nature of the traffic offence or charge. Currently, there are over 2,500 separate charges.

The department told BusinessTech that the target of 1 July 2021 for the Aarto still stands, but the rollout as a whole – including the demerit system – is reliant on several different government bodies.

“It would be remiss not to mention that the roll out is reliant on a number of outside parties,” it said. “(This includes) the South African Post Office (SAPO) and Government Printing Works (GPW).”

The department also cited concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic ‘still in our midst’, which could lead to delays in the implementation of the demerit system.

Read: The best cars in South Africa right now – across every major category

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