Cape Town - The controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill moved a step closer to implementation in South Africa since it was passed at the National Assembly in September 2017.
One of the biggest amendments is the proposed driver demerit system. Justice Project South Africa gives us an update on what has happened since.
JPSA national chairman Howard Dembovsky says: "The AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015 has received quite a bit of attention from Parliament and was passed in the National Assembly on September 5 2017. That Bill is currently with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and it has become apparent that it is now receiving attention from the various provincial legislatures."
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Big change for SA traffic law
JPSA says the AARTO Act, and its associated AARTO Amendment Bill represents the "biggest change in the manner in which road traffic offences are prosecuted".
Dembovsky said: "Because it doesn’t interest itself with whether an accused person is innocent or guilty of an infringement with which they are charged, the AARTO Act serves to act as a sophisticated and unforgiving administrative mechanism to ensure that fines are paid, failing which motorists will not be able to renew their vehicle and driving licences, as well as professional driving permits.
"The imposition of demerit points on driving licences is not dependent on the accused person being found guilty of the infringement with which they are charged, but arises from paying the fine (admitting guilt) or the issuing of an enforcement order (conviction in absentia)."
Driver demerit system
Each motorist will start with zero points to their name and will face a three-month licence suspension if they exceed 12 points.
Check out the infographic below: Info by Law For All
Dembovsky: "The Western Cape Provincial Parliament is currently holding public hearings on the Bill. These kicked off last Thursday and have another hearing scheduled for 5pm on Monday (Feb 19) , in Khayelitsha and a further three in Mossel Bay, Hermanus and Clanwilliam during the course of next week. The Western Cape Provincial Parliament is also accepting written submissions on the Bill, up to 30 March 2018.
"I believe that Mpumalanga has already held a single public hearing at Kanyamazane Community Hall in Nelspruit on February 9. I am not aware of any further public hearings to be held in this province, nor am I aware of any calls for written submissions having been made. We (JPSA) were certainly not aware of the planned holding of this public hearing prior to the time it was held."
What about other provinces?
"As far as the other seven provinces go, we have not heard of any planned or already completed public hearings, but are doing our best to keep an eye on things and assist the public in making their democratic voices heard if and when the opportunity arises."
More on AARTO
Dembovsky adds that "anyone who holds a driving licence or is the registered owner of a motor vehicle seriously owes it to themselves to make themselves familiar with the current and proposed amended provisions of the AARTO Act, and to participate in the public hearings which surround it.
"This is the very last chance for motorists to do so and if they don’t their silence will be taken as tacit agreement to the AARTO Amendment Bill. Once it is signed into law, if a motorist incurs a traffic fine, they will have little other choice than to pay it. This will affect 'law-abiding citizens' and delinquent motorists alike, since all that needs happen is for a traffic fine to be issued against your, or your vehicle’s particulars."