[This article has been updated to reflect new information on South Africa’s administrative adjudication of road traffic offences act (Aarto) gazetted by Transport minister Fikile Mbalula.]
South Africa’s Department of Transport was set to introduce new driving laws with the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Amendment Act in June 2020 but faced delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While the implementation of the system might still take some time, only coming into effect in July 2021, South Africans should still prepare for future changes to driving laws and the criminal procedure system.
Speaking to BusinessTech, law firm Eversheds Sutherland said that the Aarto system will be used for traffic offences where an offender has the option of paying a fine and that the following changes to driving laws should be noted:
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According to the amendment, 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, it is an infringement. Owners of vehicles must keep the following documents of any and all person’s using their vehicle:
- Full names
- Residential address
- Postal address
- A copy or extract of the person’s acceptable identification (ID or driving licence card).
If the owner does not have the details of the driver of his/her vehicle the owner will then be presumed to have driven the vehicle themselves (and will be liable for any charges) if the driver is unknown to authorities.
According to the amendment, companies/car owners will 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 also nominate the drivers who are responsible for infringements on an Aarto 07 form.
If the nomination is correct, the issuing authority must then withdraw the notice against the company and solely charge the driver for the infringement. If the nomination is not correct, the notice will be re-issued to the company/car owner.
In terms of traffic violations, according to the act, after 10 days of issuing a legal notice by registered mail, it will then be presumed a person has received the notice. This means it will now be up to an individual to prove that they have not received a legal notice and to do so by means of an affidavit. It will not be the duty of the authority who issued the notice to prove that it was served.
The act will also usher in the new demerit system whereby a person, operator or “juristic person who is not an operator” will not only pay a penalty and but will also incur negative points when a traffic infringement is committed.
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The term ‘juristic person who is not an operator’ refers to companies, close corporations and trusts that have motor vehicles which are licensed in the juristic person’s name but do not require operator cards.
If the demerit points exceed the maximum of 15 points, a person, operator or juristic person who is not an operator will be disqualified from driving or using the vehicle for three months. Upon disqualification, a person must hand in their licence card and the operator card of a motor vehicle for the duration of the disqualification period.
If someone is disqualified more than 3 times, their licence will be cancelled and they will have to apply for a new learner licence and driving licence once the disqualification period is over. Depending on the seriousness of an offence, demerits will range from one to six points. The maximum demerits a learner driver may have is six.
Last week the Department of Transport announced that the new demerit system will be rolled out in phases to avoid a “situation where many vehicles are suspended, and numerous drivers are disqualified shortly after implementation of the system.” Take a look at the three phases drafted for SA’s new demerit system for drivers:
Phase one will focus on offences such as driving without a valid licence or permit, speeding, hazardous driving behaviour as well as roadworthy offences like faulty brakes and lights.
Phase two will reportedly come into effect once the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) evaluates the rollout of phase 1. Phase two will focus on offences with economic significance including the protection of roads and bridges through overload control, cross border road transport permits and operating licences in terms of the national land transport legislation.
Phase three will focus on administrative offences, like failing to update addresses and other relevant information.
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