Win for driver’s licence and disc renewals being blocked over unpaid fines

The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) has, for the time being, lifted its enforcement order block on vehicle and driving licence renewals.

According to the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), the RTIA has blocked numerous motorists from renewing their driving licences due to enforcement orders that were assigned without following the correct procedures.

“OUTA discovered that the RTIA is converting infringement notices dating as far back as 2019 into enforcement order status, which in turn blocks the ability to renew vehicle and driver’s licences,” it said.

“In OUTA’s view, this is taking place well outside the prescribed time periods, as is stipulated in the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act.”

Once the enforcement orders are linked to the motorist’s details in the National Administration Traffic Information System (Natis), they must pay the outstanding fines before their documents can be issued.

Outa executive director Stefanie Fick speculated that the RTIA’s failure to comply with its processes could relate to capacity constraints or dubious collection practices.

“Nevertheless, this cannot continue at the expense of motorists, especially in light of the Concourt judgment giving government the green light to roll out AARTO nationwide,” added Fick.

She also explained the correct process that should be followed to issue enforcement orders against motorists and vehicle owners.

“Firstly, the infringer will be issued with an infringement notice to inform him or her of the offence,” said Fick.

“This infringement notice must contain all relevant information related to the infringement, including that the infringer must within 32 days of the notice act on it — either by paying or contesting the fine.”

Advocate Stefanie Fick, executive director at Outa.

Should the infringer fail to pay or contest the fine within 32 days, the RTIA must then issue and serve a courtesy letter to ensure that they are aware of the infringement and its consequences.

Only if there is no action from the infringer 32 days after serving them with the courtesy letter can the RTIA issue an enforcement order.

“Where the RTIA has failed to issue and serve the courtesy letter timeously, the RTIA has deprived an infringer of the opportunity to comply with an infringement notice, resulting in a more serious consequence,” said Fick.

“If this is the case, it means that the RTIA has failed to follow its own process and cannot merely convert the old infringement notice to an enforcement order.”

She added that this could result in the enforcement order being deemed unlawful and invalid.

Outa requested that the RTIA urgently intervene to resolve the issues.

The RTIA advised that it is investigating the allegations and will temporarily lift the block on enforcement orders until the investigation concludes.

“The RTIA has assured us that all ‘enforcement order’ blocks on their system will be lifted, until such time as they have completed their internal investigation into this matter,” said Outa.

Fick added that the failure of the RTIA to follow its own procedures is concerning, especially considering the enforcement of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act from mid-2024.

“How will they be able to cope with the Aarto Amendment Act that will roll the Aaarto system out nationwide and where a demerit system will add even more problems to the mix?” she said.

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Win for driver’s licence and disc renewals being blocked over unpaid fines