The New Driver Demerit System

Cyril Ramaphosa has signed in the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offence (Aarto) Bill into law and it is facing opposition. The way we drive in South Africa could fundamentally change due to this amendment act. 

With the new act comes changes.

  1. Firstly, if you fail to pay a traffic fine then it may result in a block on obtaining driving and vehicle licenses as well as an administration fee in addition to other penalties. 
  2. Documents that were once delivered by registered mail via the post office, can now be served by authorities electronically plus they can send reminders via SMS and WhatsApp. 
  3. There will be a new demerit system. This system works on points and depending on the severity of the offence, 1 to 6 points can be allocated. If you have more than 12 points, then it will result in a suspension of the driving license. If you receive three suspensions, then it will result in cancellation.
  4. With the new act, a new Appeals Tribunal will be created which will preside over issues that are raised in terms of the act. 

The demerit system is the biggest change and has the aim of making South Africa’s roads safer by being harder on violators. 

Points of 1 to 6 are allocated depending on the severity of the offence and if the infringer has more than 12 points then the driving license will be suspended and having three suspensions will mean that the license is cancelled. 

There has been support for the demerit system, but there has also been many organisations that have argued that the current lack of enforcement of current laws as well as the capacity of traffic authorities means that the new point system will likely be ineffective. 

The Automobile Association has said that the focus seems to be on revenue collection as the act also makes provision to make it easier for authorities to deliver fines as well as hold licenses to ransom due to unpaid fines. 

The constitutionally of the act will be challenged by Outa. They also believe that motorists will be forced into paying Gauteng e-toll fees by making it an offence to ignore road signs, which would then include e-toll fee signs that are next to the highway. 

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