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The Latest on the AARTO Bill and What it Means for Motorists

- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - March 2019

After much fear-mongering and a few amendments later, it looks as though the controversial AARTO or Administrative Adjunction of Road Traffic Offences Bill might finally see the president’s pen after nearly a decade.

Everyone is naturally talking about the demerit points system and how it might impact their future as a road user in South Africa. You see, gone are the days of simply ignoring a speeding fine and waiving it off. Now, the future of your licence hangs in the balance. Should the bill be signed into effect, drivers will now in addition to a fine also receive penalty points – and after 12 points, their licence will be suspended for a period of three months with increased time for every point after 12. Therefore if someone manages to rack up let’s say 14 points, this means that their licence will be suspended for a whopping nine months. After three suspensions or 36 lifetime demerits, drivers can say goodbye to their licences for good. While this may have an impact on reckless driving as former highway race car drivers may now find themselves slowing down to just below the speed of sound in order to keep their driving records clean.

Let’s look at a few examples of the points and how they are earned:

  • 4 points for driving without a driving licence
  • 6 points for driving under the influence
  • 1 point for driving while holding a cellphone
  • 6 points for exceeding 140km/h in a 100km zone

But, while everyone is talking demerits at the water-cooler, the bill also introduces new offences and an authority to deal with the AARTO processes instead of the courts. Other changes brought about the often criticized bill include:

  • Not paying traffic fines may ultimately result in a block when trying to renew driving or vehicle licences
  • Offenders will no longer have the option to appear in court to challenge the prosecution
  • In keeping with modern technology, in addition to registered mail, documents may now be served via e-mail, accompanied by WhatsApp or SMS reminders

So how close are we to this becoming the law of the road? Well, this amended bill will now move to the National Assembly, and should Parliament adopt it, all President Ramaphosa has to do is sign it into effect. We will be keeping an eye on this and updating you on any new developments.

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