Contesting traffic fines in SA: What are your rights?

2018-02-21 06:02

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A READER received a traffic fine more than five months after the alleged transgression took place, and a note stating the amount of the fine.

We asked legal experts LawForAll for advice. We’ve included types of traffic fines and how to contest them at the end of this article.

Reader Romersa: “I received a notice of an alleged offence more than five months after it happened. There was no admission of guilt fine on the notice but there was a note stating the amount would be determined by the prosecutor and a summons would follow. All this now five months after the date on the notice.

“What are my rights here and how do I contest this?”

LAWFORALL’S HEINRICH HORN ANSWERS:

Dear reader,

We’re sorry to hear about this frustrating situation you are in. It’s important to remember that it is within your legal rights to challenge a fine that you think is unfair. The law must be applied fairly and in line with the type of violation.

There are two types of fines that can be issued by the traffic department.

• A S56 notice, which is normally given to you in person by a traffic officer. This will contain details of the offence as well as a specific court date.

• A S341 notice, which is sent in the mail after the offence has been committed. These are normally fines for speeding from a fixed camera or for an expired license disk. These notices do not have a court date and are sort of a last warning before a summons is issued against you.

In both cases, you have 30 days to approach the traffic department where the fine was issued to pay the fine. After the 30 days, a summons could be issued, which means you will have to go to court to state your case. This, however, varies from municipality to municipality.

If you wish to challenge the fine before summons is issued, you need to send a letter or fax to the issuing traffic department that includes the fine and the reasons why you feel you shouldn’t pay the fine.

The prosecutor will then decide if he/she wants to prosecute the matter further. If the prosecutor still wants to prosecute, the matter will be set in front of a judge who will determine the amount that needs to be paid.

Please take note that if a S341 notice is not issued within 30 days of the date of the infringement, then the notice is deemed invalid and this could be argued in court.

If you live in Pretoria/Tshwane or Johannesburg, the procedure is slightly different as AARTO applies. The first step would be to download an AARTO 08 representation form and fill in all the necessary details (including the violation notice number and the issuing authority).

If you have gathered any additional evidence, you can send it as attachments. After it has been signed in front of a commissioner of oaths, you can upload and submit the completed form via the AARTO website.

Should you be successful, the fine will be cancelled or reduced. Unfortunately, if you are unsuccessful, a further R200 may be added to the fine if you made your representation more than 64 days after the traffic violation.

Below are steps to take for contesting traffic fines: Info by Justice Project South Africa

Criminal Procedure Act — S341 (when you receive a traffic fine but not a court summons)

• You may write to the traffic department.

• You’ll need only the compounding notice number.

• If you have the compounding notice, attach a copy of it to your letter. Keep the original safe.

• Letters need not be accompanied by an affidavit.

• You can post, fax or e-mail your letter to the traffic department. You are not required to use registered mail if you post it, but it helps to establish a paper trail.

• The traffic department may respond to you in writing. In reality this rarely happens.

• If your representation is successful, the fine will either be cancelled or reduced.

• The most common outcome is for the fine to be reduced because they want the money.

• If your representation is unsuccessful, you will need to await the summons to be issued and served on you.

• By paying the admission of guilt fine on the compounding notice (prior to a summons) you will not incur a criminal record.

Criminal Procedure Act – S54 or S56 (when you receive a summons to appear in court)

• You may write to or approach the public prosecutor at the Magistrate’s Court you are summoned to appear in.

• You’ll need the original S54 summons or S56 written notice.

• If you write to him/her, attach a copy of the summons or written notice to your letter. Keep the original safe.

• Letters need not be accompanied by an affidavit.

• You can post, fax or e-mail your letter to the public prosecutor. You are not required to use registered mail if you post it, but it helps to establish a paper trail.

• If you write to the public prosecutor and do not deliver your letter in person, he/she may respond to you in writing. In reality this rarely happens.

• If your representation is successful, the summons will either be withdrawn or the fine reduced. The most common outcome is for the fine to be reduced because they want the money.

• If your representation is unsuccessful, you will have to appear in court if you do not pay the admission of guilt fine.

• If you appear in court, you are strongly advised to have an attorney represent you but be careful to obtain one who is familiar with traffic law. There’s a lot of truth to the saying “a man who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer”, so be careful.

• If you pay the admission of guilt fine or are found guilty in court, the Criminal Procedure Act says you must be given a criminal record.

AARTO Act – AARTO 01 or AARTO 03 (applies to Tshwane and Johannesburg)

• You’ll need an AARTO 08 representation form from www.aarto.gov.za

• You’ll need all of the details required on that from, including the infringement notice number and issuing authority name

• If you have any additional evidence, etc. you may attach it to your representation.

• All AARTO 08 representations must be signed in front of a commissioner of oaths.

• You submit this form by the methods stated on the form. You can upload it at the www.aarto.
gov.za website. It is recommended that you use the facility on the AARTO website to submit it since this causes the status of the infringement notice to change to “representation” immediately on eNatis. You also get an AARTO 05c receipt to download immediately.

• By law, you must be notified of the outcome of your representation on an AARTO 09 result of representation. In reality this rarely happens.

• If your representation is successful, the infringement notice will be cancelled. If it is unsuccessful the RTIA may add a further R200 to the penalty if you made representation after 64 days had lapsed from the time of infringement.

• If your representation is unsuccessful, you may elect to be tried in court, in which case a summons in terms of Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Act must be served on you.

• If you are found guilty in court, you will have to pay the fine but you will not incur a criminal record. — Wheels24.

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