What Are the New Driving Laws?
The new laws that were scheduled to come into effect in 2022 are in the new AARTO act (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences). The system was designed to penalise drivers who are found guilty of infringements and traffic offenses through a demerit points system. Drivers can lose their licenses and professional driving permits with repeat infringements.
When Was Aarto Act Supposed to Come into Effect?
A phased approach started as the Road Traffic Infringement Agency ran a pilot exercise for three months in 2021. This first phase helped increase their national footprint with a number of new outlets and the addition of online services and mobile apps.
The agency then aimed to take phase two live in the last three months of 2021 by taking Aarto live in 67 metropolitan municipality areas. The final phase was supposed to come into effect in January 2022 and was supposed to last six months until the system had been rolled out to all municipalities in South Africa.
How Will the Demerits System Work?
Final penalty amounts and demerits for bad driving behaviour and contravention of traffic laws have not been gazetted yet. Even so, the RTIA offered examples of how the fine system would work and what kind of penalties fellow drivers could receive.
Drivers using a mobile phone while driving could, for example, be charged a R500 fine and receive one demerit point. Potential fines for speeding could be R750 along with two demerits. The fines will be payable at outlets such as Checkers, Shoprite, and Spar, as well as at driver license testing centres.
Learn more about driving tips for parents in South Africa.
Why Has the Aarto Act Not Come into Effect Yet?
The Aarto Amendment Act is being brought to the Constitutional Court on 15 November 2022, because some sections are being deemed unconstitutional. The grounds for this case are that this amendment unlawfully intrudes upon the jurisdiction of the local and provincial government and their exclusive executive and legislative competence.
In other words, Aarto could hamper provincial governments in the governing of their own affairs. The Aarto amendment would move road traffic infringements into an administrative process instead of the Criminal Procedures Act. There is also a lot of controversy around the demerit system and its implementation throughout South Africa.
A court ruling in January of this year parts of Aarto unconstitutional, but the ruling is pending confirmation from the Constitutional Court. The Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) originally brought this legal action, but further actions have emerged in the matter.
What Do Relevant Parties Want Out of This Case?
The City of Cape town and Outa both agree that the amendment is unconstitutional and should be declared invalid, since it would usurp the local government’s authority when it comes to traffic issues on their roads. The City of Cape Town also argues that it would negatively affect the local government’s finances and fiscal powers – an argument that was not aired in court.
The RTIA, RTMC, and minister of transport all want to overturn the High Court order so that the Aarto laws remain applicable, and the phased launch can continue.
Do You Need to Worry About the New Driving Laws?
If you habitually drive within the speed limit and keep road safety laws like not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will most likely meet legal requirements and not suffer any consequences because of Aarto. Owners of heavy goods vehicles may end up paying fines for the bad driving behaviours of their employees, however, and drivers on the road with expired driving licenses could face more severe penalties.
Aarto leaves less wiggle room, with the potential loss of driving privileges if you reach a certain number. The impact could be greater on the commercial driver and fleet owner, since these drivers spend a lot more time on the road. You may need to worry about the possibility of heavy penalties and consequences for road traffic infringements, but you don’t need to worry about insuring your car.
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