The Automobile Association of South Africa still supports a driver’s licence points-demerit system for South Africa, despite the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) and its amendments being declared unconstitutional and unlawful.
The Pretoria High Court ruled this week that the original Act and amendment unlawfully intruded upon local and provincial governments’ exclusive executive and legislative competence.
It declared the laws unconstitutional, effectively bringing an end to the legitimacy of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) and any authority it had in terms of the administration of traffic fines.
The AA welcomed the decision, reiterating its position over many years that the Aarto Act was drafted without sufficient care.
“As early as a few months after the 2008 launch of the Aarto pilot project in the Johannesburg and Tshwane Metros, the shortcomings of the Act became clear in practice,” the AA said.
The Association described Aarto as “unworkable” and geared towards revenue collection instead of promoting road safety.
The AA stood by its previous stance that traffic fines must be dealt with in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, as is currently the case in most of the country.
However, it believes Parliament can make some legislative amendments to protect motorists in cases where delivery of fines and service of summons were not conducted according to the law.
One of the aspects of Aarto, which the AA is still in full support of, is the points-demerit system.
Under this system, driver’s found guilty of specific offences would be handed a certain amount of penalty points on their licence, in addition to a fine.
If the driver exceeded 15 points, their licence would be suspended.
Licences suspended three times could be cancelled, and motorists would have to reapply and retest to get a new one.
Therefore, the purpose of the points-demerit system is to encourage responsible driving behaviour and punish those who repeatedly commit offences and endanger other motorists by keeping them off the country’s roads.
The AA said the points-demerit system could still be implemented as part of a judicial process.
That means the courts could rule on offences and penalise a motorist with points instead of the RTIA.
“This is how points-demerit has been implemented in other parts of the world for half a century or longer,” the Association explained.
“The AA itself called for such a system as long ago as 1963, and we would be willing to work with the government to help create it, just as we have assisted in developing many other aspects of traffic law,” notes the Association.
It also labelled the acts as a vast waste of taxpayers’ money which did nothing to remedy South Africa’s shocking road death rate.
“There is no evidence that the Aarto pilot project has saved a single life,” said the AA.
The AA said there was no point attempting to rectify the issues in Aarto, as the court found the deficiencies were not curable.
“After almost a quarter of a century of failure, the government would be wise to concede defeat,” the Association said.