Legal fight to stop driver’s licence points demerit system in South Africa

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) announced that its court battle against the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act and the Aarto Amendment Act would begin on Monday, 18 October.

Among the provisions set out in Aarto is a points demerit system for traffic offences.

If you accumulate 15 points on your driving licence, it is suspended. Your licence may be suspended twice before it is cancelled.

Outa says it is challenging the constitutional validity of the two Aarto laws and will call on the court to declare both the main act and the amendment act unconstitutional.

The case will be heard by Judge Basson and is set down for two days.

Outa’s case is against:

  • Minister of Transport — currently Fikile Mbalula
  • Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) — currently Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
  • Road Traffic Infringement Authority (RTIA)
  • RTIA Appeals Tribunal

The Minister of Transport and the RTIA are opposing the application. The Cogta minister did not oppose it and will abide by the court’s decision.

The case was filed in July 2020 and has taken more than a year to get to the hearing.

Outa is being represented by Advocate Matthew Chaskalson, SC, and Advocate Emma Webber, instructed by Jennings Incorporated.

Minister Fikile Mbalula Minister of Transport
Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Transport

“While we believe that measures to improve road safety and reduce fatalities are urgently needed, we don’t believe that the Aarto Amendment Act will achieve this,” says Advocate Stefanie Fick, executive director of the accountability and governance divisions at Outa.

“Aarto was rolled out in Gauteng 10 years ago and failed spectacularly. Statistics do not support the claim that it will lead to a reduction in fatalities on our roads,” Fick said.

Outa believes the Aarto legislation unlawfully intrudes upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments envisaged in the Constitution.

If the court finds that the law is not inconsistent with the Constitution, then Outa said it further opposes Section 17 of the Amendment Act.

This section removes the requirement that notices and related documents be served personally or by registered mail — allowing e-mail, SMS or voice message.

Outa also believes that South Africa must have strict and unchallengeable traffic legislation to ensure behavioural changes in road users, which will lead to safer driving and fewer fatalities on our roads.

It said the true test of legislation is whether it will withstand constitutional scrutiny as legislation is only effective if government can enforce it.

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

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Legal fight to stop driver’s licence points demerit system in South Africa