Driving licence demerit system approved for South Africa

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport has accepted the final amendments on the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill.

The bill will now go to the National Assembly for concurrence and will then be ready to be signed into law.

The amendment bill is expected to change driving in South Africa, with the biggest changes including:

  • Failing to pay traffic fines can lead to a block on obtaining driving and vehicle licences.
  • Where documents previously had to be delivered by registered mail, authorities will now also be able to serve documents via email and to send reminders via WhatsApp and SMS.
  • The option for offenders to elect to appear in court to challenge the prosecution has been removed.
  • A new demerit system will be introduced, with 1-6 points allocated for offences. If an infringer has more than 12 points, it will result in the disqualification of the driving licence.


The amendment bill has been the subject of controversy, with a number of civil society group and legal experts stating that the bill is unlikely to have any of the intended impacts on South African driving habits.

“The Aarto Bill will not have the desired effect of enhanced road safety as we have seen little change in road users behaviour during the Aarto pilot project run in Tshwane and Johannesburg over the past decade,” said Rudie Heyneke, Outa’s transport portfolio manager.

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Driving licence demerit system approved for South Africa