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September 11th, 2017 by

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Bill of 1998 is in the process of being amended.

The decision to amend the Bill was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday and will now be signed off by the President.

This amendment, although aimed at transforming the roads, might in fact have negative consequences on road users.

This will see the long awaited implementation of the demerit system and the Appeals Tribunal.

Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi said in a press briefing on Wednesday that this amendment is a step in the right direction.

“South Africa has been experiencing tremendous loss of lives, especially of young people, as well as the continued disregard of road traffic laws,” said Minister Maswanganyi.

The aim is to use this amendment as a way to decrease the number of fatalities on South Africa’s roads.

The amended bill has been on a trial period since 2008 in Tshwane and parts of Johannesburg.


Car Insurance Comparison7 - The Demerit System Is Soon To Be Law!

But What Does The Amended Bill Include? 

Along with all the usual traffic rules and regulations, AARTO aims to:

  • Implement a demerit system;
  • Establish an Appeals Tribunal for motorists to appeal their infringements;
  • Make vehicle owners responsible for any infringement, even if someone else is driving;
  • Removal of Section 21. This means that the confiscation of drivers license, disc or impounding of vehicle is no longer allowed.

The Minister has encouraged the government to support the amendment. He believes that the demerit system, especially, will provide drivers with a sense of ownership.

“Those that continue to break the laws, will find themselves ultimately losing their driving licences through suspensions and cancellations of their drivers licenses.  We must remember that a driving licence always belongs to the government and everyone that wants to exercise this benefit, must comply with the conditions related there.”

Is This Bill Going To Be Successful? 

According to Justice Project SA’s Howard Dembovsky, this Bill is going to cause more chaos than anything else.

The AARTO Act, as it exists now and is going to be amended, is predicated on the presumption which you are guilty until proven innocent. It takes the onus of proof and plants it firmly in your lap. And it also takes the onus of action and plants it firmly in your lap,” Dembovsky explains. 

Infringements are going to be sent electronically to vehicle owners. This means that if you don’t have access to technology on a permanent basis, this will be detrimental.

If you are accused of being guilty to an infringement, you will receive a letter electronically. You have 32 days to appeal.

The government is basically calling you guilty until you, as the vehicle owner, are able to prove your innocence. This, in many cases might be difficult, as you might not know the legalities when it comes to road traffic offences.

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The Appeals Tribunal And Its Flaws

The point of the Appeals Tribunal is to cut out the expensive lawyer fees, as well as the whole court process.

This might seem like a good alternative, but you have to pay an additional fee “determined by the Minister” before you can appeal.

You have 32 days to appeal your infringement. If you don’t appeal, your license will be suspended. During this time, you will not be allowed to apply for a new license, license disc or driving permit.

So, in other words, you have to appeal if you don’t want your license suspended. It all depends on how many demerits you have received. This will determine how many months your license will be suspended for.

You may incur a maximum of 12 points. Anything over 12 points, your driving license will be suspended for a period of three months for each demerit point,” explains Dembovsky. “For example, if you have 6 points against you, they[the government] reduce every one point for every three months. That’s what they call a reward system!”

The Demerit System

There has been much talk surrounding the demerit system in South Africa. The implementation of the Bill will happen nationally towards the end of 2017.

Remember that we all start on zero points. The more points incurred – the longer the suspension. Here is how you can potentially get demerit points…

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Is This Really Going to Be A Successful System? 

Dembovsky says that the demerit system needs a lot of work in order for it to be successful.

The demerit system can only work properly if one enforces laws in a physical fashion. In other words, if you have traffic cops out there stopping people and checking if their driving licenses are valid and whether it has been suspended or not.”

Not only that, but a drivers licenses does not have a chip built into it. This means that officers can not access information regarding infringements via your license disc or card.

You can easily escape a roadblock unscathed due to the lack the relevant measures taken to access your demerits.

The country has many flaws that need to be rectified before they implement something so strict. The chances that this, like many of the other ideas that the government has tried to implement, might fail are high.

Many people are sure to be up in arms about this matter.

At the end of the day, lets just be honest.  This just seems like another ploy for the government to make revenue from its citizens!

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05062017 CTAs 01 01 - The Demerit System Is Soon To Be Law!


  • Francois Engelbrecht

    The people of this country is tired of being done in. This will just give much greater leverage to corrupt cops to get bribes. If you look at social media this is on the incline as well and getting more brazen daily (since there is no action on corruption).

    This implementation is also unconstitutional (Guilty until proven innocent) and lacks the technology to support this fairly to all citizens.

    You think E-Toll was a failure…. watch this space. There is already so much illegals on the road and this will just increase that significantly. I will not be surprised if there is a back door deal going on here as well as it is the culture of the current looters in charge.

    • John R Potter

      Europe has been using this system for years and it works but it needs to go further and include all transport must carry insurance,

      • Francois Engelbrecht

        I get so frustrated when people do this “but it works in a first world country so it should work here”. South Africa is not a first world country and corruption and incompetence is entwined into the DNA of almost any decision maker in Government and law enforcement employee. Just compare a few fundamental things. 1) Ethics of the cops 2) Culture of the general public 3) Transport options and systems 4) Connectivity and % of the public connected to it. 5) Taxis there and here’s behavior

        Just because your ex-wife is good in bed do not assume all your future wife will live up to that expectation as well.

        • John R Potter

          Every country has to start some where and unless it is tried how do you or any one else including myself know if it will work it was also talked about in the early 1980s but the transport unions ( taxi) complained but this time nothing from them yet so maybe things are getting better,,,,,I did not enjoy your wife remark I lost my wife in Dec 2016 after 54years marriage and that sort of remark hurts.

          • Francois Engelbrecht

            Starting from the wrong side of implementation does not help. In fact is will cause more damage that way to public perception. It is in the way it is presented also unconstitutional as you are guilty and need to proof your innocence but you are denied legal representation to assist in a field you are not an expert.

            John, sorry about your wife, nothing personal. I don’t know you or your history.. it was meant as a euphemism on expectations rather than understanding 2 or more different entities.

  • Nic

    This law will not work as so many others in our beloved country, simply because there are not enough manpower willing to work to enforce it! and there are already thousands of illegal drivers and vehicles on the roads. Who are going to be able to regulate false or true status of licences and registrations?

  • Ashley Crookes

    Considering that there are so many people driving WITHOUT licences, or properly licenced vehicles…I don’t actually know how this will benefit us. Yet again, the ones who do it legitimately will be the ones who incur all the costs and the problems involved is what I’m thinking. If we actually had a justice system and a police system that was worth more than spit, it might actually work. I’m not holding my breathe.

  • Arie

    The system as proposed is realistic if it is applied CORRECTLY.

    I shudder at being penalised for driving at 180 in 120 zone in an area I nver have been and all probability will go to either, because I have no business being there.

    Now I must prove my inmocenc by incurring an unreasonable cost.

    Wuestion time: is it cheaper to pay the fune /accusation and accept that in a number of months the demerit will go away or do I fight it out in court at a even higher cost.

    This is where the sustem Maybe not the initial accusation but the administrative part can become a nightmare.
    At all times I am asuming the the traffic ifficial apply themselves correctly and not in a unlawful manner. Unlawfullness cannot be fought succesfully.