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Don’t Lose your Licence! Learn How SA’s new Demerit System Works

September 9, 2017

SA’s new Demerit System
Learn How SA’s new Demerit System Works

The Amended Bill

Earlier this week, the South African National Assembly passed the latest Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) amendment bill.

A mouth full indeed, but what it comes down to for the average SA motorist is quite simple. The idea of the newly amended bill is to introduce new road traffic offence regulations. It is also the aim of the bill to remove the courts from the AARTO process and replacing them with its own devoted ruling system.

A big part of this bill is the implementation of a ‘demerit points’ system, which will become active once the legislation has been approved by the National Council of Provinces & signed by Duduzane’s father. The demerit system was officially signed into SA law in September 1998 already, but was delayed indefinitely due to various reasons. This new bill moves it a step closer to implementation in South Africa and it is predicted that it could be active before the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

1. How the Demerit System Works

Drivers start out with 0 points to their name (irrespective of the number of classes of vehicle licences held). Drivers are then fined and penalized a certain amount of demerit points depending on the particular traffic offence – up to a total demerit limit of 12 points. The number of points (demerits) added will depend on the severity of the offence as outlined below.
Once a driver exceeds the ‘allowed’ 12 points, their licence will be suspended for three months for every demerit point over 12. If a driver’s licence is suspended for a 3rd time, it will be permanently annulled.

Drivers who continue to drive during a period of licence suspension will be liable to a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.

Fortunately, demerit points that accumulated against your licence will also decrease by 1 point for every three months in which no demerits are incurred. (Phew!)

Here is a schedule of applicable fines and demerits for traffic infringements:

Note: It is possible to be fined multiple demerit points in a single incident, as the points are awarded per specific violation.

Infringement Fine amount Demerit points
Driving an unregistered vehicle R500,00 1
Driving an unlicensed vehicle R500,00 1
Driving a vehicle with licence plate not visible R500,00 1
Driving without a driving licence R1 250,00 4
Driving without a seat belt R250,00 0
Driving under influence of intoxicating substance Court Decision 6
Driving while holding and using a cellphone R500,00 1
Skipping a stop sign (light vehicles) R500,00 1
Skipping a stop sign (buses, trucks) R750,00 2
Skipping a red light (light vehicles) R500,00 1
Skipping a red light (buses, trucks) R750,00 2
Failing to yield to a pedestrian R500,00 1
Overtaking across a barrier line (light vehicles) R500,00 1
Overtaking across a barrier line (buses, trucks) R750,00 2
Overloading a heavy truck by up 13.99% R1 500,00 5
81-85km/h in a 60km/h zone R750,00 2
100km/h+ in a 60km/h zone Court Decision 6
106-110km/h in an 80km/h zone R1 000,00 3
120km/h+ in an 80km/h zone Court Decision 6
121-125km/h in a 100km/h zone R750,00 2
131-135km/h in a 100km/h zone R1 250,00 4
140km/h+ in a 100km/h zone Court Decision 6
131-135km/h in a 120km/h zone R250,00 0
141-145km/h in a 120km/h zone R750,00 2
151-155km/h in a 120km/h zone R1 250,00 4
160km/h+ in a 120km/h zone Court Decision 6

2. A Centralized Offences Register

A key goal of the new AARTO Bill is the creation of a centralized ‘National Road Traffic Offences Register’. The plan is to have a designated authority to ensure that all the details of the traffic infringements and violations of individuals are recorded correctly, and will also enable the authority to charge and keep record of much larger volumes of offenders.

3. You will be able to appeal at a special tribunal

Another one of the big changes to the Bill is the introduction of a special appeals tribunal. The function of the proposed tribunal will be to hear appeals and make judgements accordingly. However, if an infringer does not agree to a tribunal decision, they may still appeal the decision in the High Court of South Africa.

4. Registered car owners liable for all drivers

A registered owner of a vehicle will be responsible for any infringement even if someone else was driving the car. This will be the rule, unless the owner of the vehicle established the “full names, identity document, residential, postal, and applicable business and e-mail addresses of an infringer” according to the Bill.

5. The removal of Section 21 of the Act

The previous Bill allowed for severe punishments for non-compliant offenders. This included seizing the driver’s licence, removing the vehicles licence disc and/or impounding the vehicle involved in the offence. This part is removed in the amended Bill and will no longer be applicable.

And that’s it! These are the five main points you need to be aware of. Now you are up to ‘speed’ on the new Bill so to speak!

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