New traffic fine rules kick in on 1 July — what you should know

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act will be implemented in five phases, each lasting around three months, starting on 1 July 2021.

Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) spokesperson Monde Mkalipi has told MyBroadband that from next month the agency will begin laying the groundwork for the national rollout of Aarto.

However, the details of the plan will be communicated at a later date, he said.

Mkalipi’s comments follow complaints from institutions like the AA, which have said there are still too many unanswered questions surrounding the implementation of South Africa’s new driving infringement system.

This is a huge concern for South African motorists and businesses that rely on road transport, especially considering that Aarto is set to go into effect on 1 July.

According to the AA, the last official information the public received about Aarto was on 19 May 2021.

This was when the director-general of the Department of Transport (DoT), Alec Moemi, briefed a committee in the National Council of Provinces about the department’s annual performance plan.

Speaking to MyBroadband, the RTIA has now provided some more detail.

Driver's license

Mkalipi said that it is important for the agency to ensure that the ground is prepared for Aarto to roll out nationally, so that when the new infringement system arrives everything is ready.

He said that they are going to firm up the Aarto footprint throughout the country, including setting up some service outlets.

RTIA is working with municipalities so that it can receive some space to set up these service outlets.

It is also going to hire staff to man these outlets during the first phase of the rollout.

Phase 1 will also be where the RTIA ensures that the IT infrastructure is sufficient. This is so the National Traffic Information System (Natis) will be responsive to the Aarto system, Mkalipi said.

During phase 1, RTIA will embark on a national training programme with vehicle and driving licence issuing authorities around South Africa.

This is to ensure that municipal staff know how to respond to Aarto queries, such as what to do when a motorist’s licence is blocked from being renewed.

“After that we can go to Phase 2,” said Mkalipi.

He said that they currently expect each phase to take roughly three months to implement and that it is currently not decided how the demerit points system will be phased in.

Mkalipi said that it will be up to the Minister to specify how the demerit point system is ultimately rolled out.

He explained that before the demerit point system can be implemented, all of the necessary legal requirements will need to be concluded.

“This is central — the regulations and proclamations,” Mkalipi said.

Once this is done the process of admitting guilt and adjudication over demerits can be finalised.

“Our role is to be an independent and neutral arbitrator in times of dispute. We are like the courts,” Mkalipi said.

“You get police who apprehend, and then the courts that adjudicate. RTIA adjudicates.”

Asked whether the RTIA anticipates having to handle more disputes due to drivers wanting to avoid demerits on their licence, Mkalipi said that they welcome it.

“Aarto is coming here to protect the infringer,” Mkalipi stated.

“Aarto is coming in to present your case if you have been unfairly treated.”

He said that there must be fairness, justice, and no assumption of guilt.

How the demerit points system works

Under the new demerit system, motorists will be allowed to accumulate 15 demerit points on their licence before it is suspended. A licence may be suspended twice before it is cancelled.

When you receive a fine, Mkalipi said that you can choose to do one of five things:

  1. Pay the fine within 32 days of receipt of the notice and receive an automatic 50% discount on the fine amount.
  2. If the infringement notice issued is being disputed, the alleged infringer is allowed to make a representation. RTIA will adjudicate on the merits and if successful, the issued infringement notice will be cancelled.
  3. Upon receipt of an infringement notice via registered mail, the alleged infringer is also allowed to make an arrangement with RTIA for paying their fine in instalments for fines of R750 or more over a period of six months.
  4. Elect to be tried in court.
  5. If they were not the designated driver of the vehicle at the time the traffic violation was committed, nominate a driver.

If you elect to the pay the fine, or if you lose your case in court, 0–6 demerit points will be added to your licence depending on the offence committed.

There are currently 2,659 offences listed on the Aarto website. The following table gives examples of various offences with differing amounts of demerit points attached.

Offence Undiscounted fine Discounted fine Demerit points
Driving 131-135km/h on a road with a 120km/h restriction R250 R125 0
Driving at 141-145km/h on road with 120km/h restriction R750 R375 2
Skipping a red traffic signal – buses, minibus taxis, and trucks R750 R375 2
Failing to yield to a pedestrian R500 R250 1
Driving without a licence R1,250 R625 4
Overloading a vehicle with a maximum of 56,000kg combination mass in excess of 12% – 13.99% R1,500 R750 5
Driving 40km/h+ over the speed limit on roads with a 60km/h, 80km/h, 100km/h, or 120km/h speed restrictions. Penalty determined by court 6 – if found guilty
Driving under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating substance Penalty determined by court 6 – if found guilty

Now read: Drop South Africa’s speed limit in cities to 30km/h — Urban expert

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New traffic fine rules kick in on 1 July — what you should know