Aarto bill a step closer to becoming law: What will this mean for SA motorists?


UPDATE: Thank you to all our readers for responding. We'll collate all responses and publish them in a future article.

Cape Town - The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) amendment bill has moved a step closer to being signed into law.

The bill passed in the National Assembly on Tuesday (September 5) by 225 votes to 88, with zero abstentions.

Some opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance, Congress of the People and Freedom Front Plus registered their dissatisfaction with the bill.

They argued, among other things, that the bill's good intentions had become a bureaucratic nightmare, and would become a box-ticking exercise that would be costly to run.

'Flimsy and stone-aged'

DA MP Manny de Freitas labelled the bill "flimsy and stone-aged".

Others though, including the African National Congress and Economic Freedom Fighters, supported the bill. The EFF said the bill would bring some good if only to clamp down on the high-mortality rate on South Africa's road.

The bill will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for adoption and then for President Jacob Zuma to be signed into law, provided his office has no objections to its contents.

Justice Project South Africa responds:

JPSA said "The passing of the Aarto bill (as amended by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Transport in August 2017) in the National Assembly this afternoon brings with it some pretty ominous provisions with serious implications for holders of driving licenses and/or owners of motor vehicles.

What is the next step in the legal process? 

"The Bill will now head to the National Council of Provinces for adoption, where it will be signed into law by the President, amending the Act to further weight it in favour of driving traffic fine revenues for authorities, whilst leaving motorists virtually powerless to defend themselves. The amendments also pave the way for the national rollout of the Aarto Act and the implementation of the points-demerit system.

What do you think of the AARTO Amendment Bill? Will the demerit system curb SA's horrendous road death toll? Email us

How will this affect motorists?

"Amongst the amendments are the complete removal of the courts from the Aarto process, replacing them with a compulsion to make written representations to the Road Traffic Infringement Authority (formerly Agency) which is a State Owned Enterprise, funded almost entirely by traffic fine revenues (95.47% of its 2015/16 annual revenue) and to appeal adverse decisions by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency representations officers to a newly created Tribunal.

"Applications for appeal/review made to that Tribunal must be made within 30 days of the adverse decision and must be accompanied by the payment of a fee yet to be prescribed by the Minister of Transport.

"Failure to exercise any of one’s so-called 'elective options' within the prescribed timeframe will speedily lead to the issue of an enforcement order which blocks the issuing of a driving licence [card], a professional driving permit, any permit or licence issued in terms of any road traffic legislation or transport legislation and/or the issue of a vehicle licence disc, along with the imposition of demerit-points on the alleged infringer’s driving licence or operator card.

"In addition, demerit-points will now be applied against the driving licenses of proxies for juristic entities (companies, etc.) which are registered owners of motor vehicles – in relation to infringements committed by other people who drive those vehicles. The actual drivers who commit such infringements will be able to evade the points-demerit system, by simply driving vehicles registered to juristic entities."

Click here to read JPSA's full response

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