The points demerit system is regulated by Chapter 4 of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act 46 of 1998 (hereafter referred to as “AARTO”).
Section 24 deals with the points demerit system. Section 25 deals with the prohibition on driving or operating a motor vehicle while Section 26 deals with the notification process. Cancellations of driving licence’s, professional driving permits and operator cards. Reductions of demerit points are regulated under Section 28 and the offences and infringements are categorised under Section 29.
Before the new AARTO Bill is signed into law it is currently before the National Council of Provinces for final approval.
As per an article published on Wheels24 on the 20th of February 2018 a number of red flags where raised. The concerns raised was set out further by Law for All.
As per the suggested amendments, motorists will no longer only receive notices of infringements per registered mail or in person but other electronic means, this will include social media platforms. Further all written representations which a motorist intends to make are to be directed towards the Road Traffic Infringement Authority in writing. However, should the written representations of a motorist be unsuccessful an additional penalty is added in the amount R200.00. Should the motorist remain aggrieved the motorist may appeal the outcome. The appeal process is done to the new established Appeals Tribunal within 30 days of the outcome received. Further should the appeal to the Tribunal fail then a motorist may be allowed to refer the matter to a court. However, there are more fees payable not only as a result of the infringement but also to Attorneys to proceed with the above-mentioned options.
A further concern is that should the traffic department which issued the infringement not comply with AARTO when the notice is served on the motorist and the motorist’s appeals the infringement to the Road Traffic Infringement Authority and his/her appeal was successful. The traffic department will be afforded with another opportunity to change the infringement notice within six (6) months from the date of the alleged violation.
Motorists will be prevented from attaining a license disc or driver’s license card should they not make use of the above-mentioned channels to challenge a traffic violation and could further, receive an enforcement order three (3) months after the initial notice, until the motorist pays the penalty and enforcement order fees in full.
Further to the article published another two concerns were raised by the public. Once a motorist reaches twelve (12) demerit points his/her license will be suspended for a period of three (3) months. However, for each point over the maximum of twelve (12) the motorist license will be suspended. For example, if a motorist has fifteen (15) demerit points the motorist’s license will be suspended for nine (9) months.
Should a motorist’s license be suspended twice the driver will be considered a “habitual offender” and will be referred to a rehabilitation programme. Should rehabilitation not be successful in that the motorists accumulate further demerit points his/her license will be cancelled.
The last concern is regarding Employers and Employees. Should an Employee obtain an infringement notice while driving a company motor vehicle, the Employer has thirty-two (32) days to identify the Employee who needs to be served with the infringement notice. Should the Employer fail the demerit points will be allocated to his/her record.
How the demerit system works
As mentioned previously, once twelve (12) demerit points have been accumulated your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of three (3) months. Therefore, each individual driver will start with zero points.
After the initial round of public hearings in 2017, amendments where added which is referred to the ‘B’ version. The updated draft made provision for demerit points to be allocated per violation as opposed to per incident. For example, should a driver be speeding in an unregistered motor vehicle the driver fined for both violations. This means demerit points will be allocated to the driver for speeding as well as for the unregistered motor vehicle.
One of the draw backs is that should an owner of a motor vehicle lend their motor vehicle to a family member or a friend and the person who is not the owner of the motor vehicle commits an offence the owner of the motor vehicle will accumulate the demerit point. This means the registered of the vehicle will be responsible for the infringement even though someone else was driving the car. However, this does not leave the owner without recourse as there is always an exception to the rule. If the owner gathers all the personal information of the actual driver which includes; full name, identity number, residential and business address and contact details the infringement notice will be severed on the driver of the motor vehicle and not the owner.
According to the National Department of Transport, the demerit system is seen “as a key resource to provide effective road traffic management.
Considering the far-reaching implications of an owner of a motor vehicle will now think twice before letting a third party use his/her motor vehicle. Further, Employers and Employees will have to be more transparent about the party truly in the wrong so that the correct party is held accountable.
Written by Beata Warnich, SchoemanLaw