Traffic violations that can get you arrested in South Africa

There are several serious traffic violations for which South African motorists can be arrested immediately.

MyBroadband recently spoke to Law for All legal expert Nolwazi Nqobile Mngadi and Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) spokesperson Layton Beard to learn more about these violations.

The Justice Project South Africa was also previously provided comment on the violations which empower law enforcement officials to arrest motorists “on the spot”.

Based on feedback from these experts, the current offences which could justify an arrest include:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h on a public road within an urban area.
  • Exceeding the speed limit by more than 40km/h outside an urban area or on a freeway.
  • Leaving the scene of a crash in which you are involved without first stopping to check if injuries or damages to property or vehicles have occurred.
  • Reckless, negligent, or inconsiderate driving.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug having a narcotic effect.
  • Excessive overloading.
  • Failing to licence a vehicle — Includes fraudulent licence/licence disc, or any other document or number plates — as well as number plates which are completely absent.
  • Refusing or failing to comply with a lawful order given by an authorised officer.
  • Driving a class of vehicle that the driver is not licensed for.

While most of these violations seem fairly clear-cut, the reckless, negligent or inconsiderate driving violation might be considered a bit vague.

Mngadi explained that any conduct on South African roads that puts other people’s property or lives at risk is considered to be reckless and negligent driving.

These can include some of the other violations listed above, in addition to acts like failing to obey traffic signs.

Beard and Mngadi told MyBroadband that any traffic officer may enforce an arrest, including metropolitan police members, national or provincial traffic officers, or members of the SAPS.

“One should only be arrested where there is a warrant; if there is reasonable suspicion an offence was created; or if caught in the act of committing a crime,” Mngadi said.

SA Traffic Police N2 Fine Road Block

It should be emphasised that you cannot be arrested for not paying an outstanding fine unless a warrant has been issued for your arrest due to your failure to obey a court summons for a fine.

“You can be arrested because there is a summons out for your arrest. But you are not being arrested because you have an outstanding fine,” Beard said.

In the metros of Tshwane and Johannesburg, warrants are no longer issued for failing to pay a fine, because here the parts relating to the classification of infringements and offences as contained in the amended Aarto Act has already come into effect.

In these jurisdictions, an infringement notice is issued or sent to the alleged infringer, with a 50% discount on the fine if paid within 32 days.

After this time, a courtesy letter is sent to the alleged infringer to pay the full fine and an admin penalty of R60 within the next 32 days.

If the alleged infringer fails to act on a courtesy letter within 32 days of the issuing of the courtesy letter, an enforcement order is issued, which means that the driver may not:

  • Be issued with a new drivers’ licence.
  • Be issued with a new professional drivers’ permit.
  • Be issued with a new licence disk.

Once the demerit system comes into effect, the enforcement order will also mean the driver will get demerit points on their licence.

If a driver accumulates 15 points on their licence it is suspended.

Pretoria High Court

The experts also provided advice on your best course of action during an arrest.

Beard emphasised that people should never resist arrest because that may create further problems down the line.

“If you are in that situation, you may be creating new offences, just by resisting, but that is something for a court to decide on,” Beard stated.

He said motorists should attempt to gather as much information about the incident on the spot, including the officers’ names and force numbers.

“Remember as much as you can, make as many notes as you can, and the most important piece of advice we can give people — insist on your right to make a phone call.”

Mngadi concurred with this and advised people not to panic. “Contact a friend, family member, or attorney who can discuss bail with the police officials or apply for bail in court,” Mngadi advised.

Beard also recommended that motorists obtain a dash camera that can record events as they are driving to best document the incident.

With more traffic officials now required to wear body cameras and have dashcams in their vehicles themselves, motorists can also ask officers whether their recording equipment is turned on.

Now read: Huge petrol price increase expected in South Africa

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Traffic violations that can get you arrested in South Africa