Private motorists and business fleets in South Africa should familiarise themselves with the incoming Administration Adjudication of Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act and accompanying demerit system, says Fines SA.
Understanding how it works, especially the demerit system, is essential for all drivers, because when drivers incur 16 or more demerit points, they lose their licence, said Fine SA chief executive Barry Berman.
Berman said that it takes three months to remove each demerit point and regain their licence. He added that the system carries additional penalties – and that driving without a licence carries a R3,500 fine.
He said this is particularly serious for drivers of company fleets and that drivers can incur several demerit points per trip, depending on the distance they travel.
“Once a fine is received, companies have 32 days to nominate the driver responsible, using the Aarto07 form,” said Berman.
“However, fines are rarely received in time to do this, especially if they have been sent by post. So, after 32 days, a driver can no longer be nominated; therefore, the fine becomes the responsibility of the company.”
In the past, fines incurred by drivers of company vehicles were linked to a proxy or specific ID number, but now, the Business Registration Number (BRN) is used – this is the number generated by the Enatis system whenever a company registers a vehicle.
This number can be found on the registration certificate. It is referred to as the Identity Number, but it is in fact the BRN number, Berman said.
“It is essential for companies to know the status of their drivers’ traffic fines. Once 50 demerit points have been incurred, the company’s entire fleet is blocked and cannot operate.”
“Bearing in mind that it takes three months to remove each point, this is a serious issue for businesses, especially those with a large fleet. In addition, the company not only has to pay the fines, but after 32 days, extra charges become applicable.”
Usually, a staff member is tasked with keeping strict records of the drivers and their fines, but when Aarto is implemented, it will mean checking the drivers every day for demerit points and fines, keeping logbooks, certifying documents, and providing proof of every driver, thereby placing an extra burden on staff, he said.
Outa’s advocate, Stefanie Fick, told Moneyweb that the final schedule 3 regulations to the Aarto Amendment Act – which lists the offences and fines applicable to these offences – has not yet been published after draft regulations were published for public comment in November 2019.
She said the existing schedule 3 could be used, but stressed: “If they say they are ready for roll out in July there are a lot of things that they have to finalise before they can do that”.
While the system is still being finalised, the below is overview of how fines and demerits could work: