Johannesburg - The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Bill has moved a step closer to implementation in South Africa.
The bill was passed at the National Assembly in September 2017 and since the start of 2018, many provinces have held public hearings.
Justice Project South Africa said that the AARTO Act, and its associated AARTO Amendment Bill represents the "biggest change in the manner in which road traffic offences are prosecuted". We've included an infographic regarding the bill at the end of this article.
The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) has addressed concerns regarding e-tolls and the proposed demerit system.
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RTIA said: "The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) has noted with concern the media reports that are linking the proposed amendments to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act with e-tolls fees collection and the Points Demerit allocation under the AARTO Act.
"The AARTO process is designed to discourage contravention of traffic laws by levying penalties as well as point demerits on those who transgress the law. If infringers continue to transgress road traffic laws, they face the risk of their driving licenses being suspended. The demerit points system within the AARTO Act is the key to discourage drivers to transgress."
AARTO Act consequences for transgressions are:
Blocking of the renewal of a driving license
Blocking of the renewal or application for a PrDP or renewal or a motor vehicle licence as well as demerit points.
What about the demerit system?
RTIA: "It should be noted that it was never the intention of the government to assign any demerit points to an infringement arising from non-compliance with the sign that directs that toll fees must be paid.
"The draft AARTO Regulations published in the Government Gazette (page 8) No. 39482 of 07 December 2015, clearly states that failure to comply with the said sign does not carry any demerit points."
How will motorists contest fines and/or penalties?
RTIA said: "When the AARTO Act is fully functional, motorists will have a right to dispute penalties through submissions to the Tribunal, which is an independent body proposed in the amendment Bill. The Tribunal will not charge any fees for motorists who refer disputed outcomes of representations.
"As it is the practice with many other appeal tribunals of this nature, the members of the Tribunal will not necessarily summon motorists to appear before it. Their decisions will be based on the documentary evidence of the disputed infringement, the reasons for unsuccessful representation by the Representations Officer and the reasons provided by the motorist when a representation was submitted. All these documents would be submitted to this body to be reviewed."
JPSA said: "It is little more than a play on words to say that “not paying your e-tolls is not a traffic infringement” and “instead counts as disobeying a road sign".
"The descriptive wording of charge codes 3820 and 3821 is 'Failed to comply with the directions conveyed by a road traffic sign by using a toll road without paying the toll charge'. Therefore the underlying infringement is driving on a toll road without paying the toll charge.
"Whether that toll charge is payable at an ordinary toll plaza or arises from passing under an e-toll gantry is irrelevant since the SANRAL Act, which is road traffic legislation, contemplates both means of toll collection and creates a road traffic offence for not complying."
Infographic by: Law for All