The Department of Transport recently announced the phased introduction of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) regulations, including the introduction of a points-based licence demerit system for traffic offences.
The first phase launched on 1 July 2021, with the establishment of service outlets – however, the demerit system is only expected to come online in the fourth phase, starting 1 July 2022.
While the demerit system and how it operates is well documented, motorists should be aware of changes in how infringement documents are served, says Kirstie Haslam, partner at personal injury firm DSC Attorneys.
“Currently, traffic violations in South Africa are handled as criminal offences. Fines are issued and progressed in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act, and offences are prosecuted in court by the National Prosecuting Authority,” she said.
The Aarto Amendment Act, which was passed in 2019, decriminalises most traffic violations, and the amended process now involves three main steps:
1. Issuing an infringement notice
A driver may be served with an infringement notice on the spot (roadside) or this notice may be delivered after the fact to the registered vehicle owner.
The recipient then has 32 days to:
- Pay a 50% discounted fine and incur applicable demerit points;
- Arrange to pay the full fine in instalments and incur applicable demerit points;
- Submit a written representation to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) contesting the alleged violation, or
- Nominate the driver if this was someone else.
2. Issuing a courtesy letter
If the recipient doesn’t respond within 32 days, a courtesy letter will be issued.
The recipient then has a further 32 days to:
- Pay the full fine plus R200 – consisting of a so-called infringement penalty levy (IPL) of R100 plus a courtesy letter fee of R100 – and incur the applicable demerit points, or
- Submit a written representation to the RTIA contesting the fine.
3. Issuing an enforcement order
If the recipient doesn’t respond within a further 32 days, an enforcement order is issued.
The applicable demerit points are applied and the recipient is blocked from performing licensing transactions on eNaTIS. This means no driving licence, professional driving permit or vehicle licence disc may be issued.
To comply with the order, the recipient will need to pay the full fine plus R300 – R100 each for the IPL, courtesy letter and enforcement order.
The alleged infringer has a final 32 days after the enforcement order is served to apply to the RTIA for the order to be revoked.