The much-dreaded Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Bill has officially been signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The legislation is most infamously known for its demerit system, which will have a profound change to driving in South Africa.
This controversial proposed traffic law seeks to impose a demerit points system for various traffic violations. If a driver has accumulated 12 demerit points three times in a row, their driver’s license could be confiscated and destroyed.
It is proposed, however, that the driver would lose one point if no further traffic offenses occur after one month.
A disqualified motorist is required to hand in their drivers license or professional driving permit to the nearest municipality, and will be banned from applying for another driver’s license or permit during the three-month disqualification period.
Some of the biggest changes include:
– Failure to settle one’s traffic fines will lead to a block in obtaining driving and vehicle licences, as well as a penalty in the form of an administrative fee
– Authorities will now be able to serve documents electronically, instead of through the traditional channel of delivering documents by hand
– Reminders can now be sent via SMS or WhatsApp
– The new demerit system will mean that one to six points will be allocated per offence. If a motorist accrues more than 12 points, their licence will be disqualified. After three suspensions, their licence will be revoked completely.
Although the AARTO bill has existed for more than four years, it has always been met with furor from motorists.
“As a country, we are experiencing an average of just under 14,000 [road] deaths per annum, which equates to about 38 people every single day, who lose their lives on our roads,” Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande said in February. “It will be for the first time that government brings certainty and effective mechanism to ensure that persistent offenders are taken off the road through licence suspension/removal or loss of the operators’ licences.”