Traffic fines issued in Johannesburg and Tshwane still remain valid despite the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act being declared unlawful and unconstitutional by the Pretoria High Court last week.
That is according to a statement from the transport department’s Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), which said that the Aarto Act remained in force until the ruling was confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
The High Court last week declared that Aarto and the Aarto Amendment Act of 2019 “unlawfully intruded upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments”.
While the acts were only set to come into effect nationally from 1 July 2022, parts of Aarto were already in force in the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros when the ruling was made.
This left some motorists questioning whether their existing fines issued in these jurisdictions had become null and void, while the metros also wanted to know whether they were now entitled to the funds collected by RTIA through these fines.
But the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is yet to bring a confirmation application to the Constitutional Court.
It has been given until 3 February 2021 to lodge this application.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula, however, has stated that his department intends to appeal the High Court judgment.
The RTIA has said its board has also taken a resolution for the agency to join the minister’s appeal.
“Therefore, Aarto implementation continues until the judgment on the constitutionality of the Aarto Act has been subjected to all due legal review processes,” the RTIA said.
The Automobile Association previously said that it could not confirm whether fines that were given under the Aarto Act and its Amendment would be scrapped.
According to its interpretation of the ruling, the Criminal Procedure Act would take precedence once the ruling was confirmed.
That means the relevant authorities in areas where traffic police issued Aarto fines could still prosecute motorists for unpaid fines.
It has advised motorists with outstanding fines to first seek legal advice to contest their validity.
The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act will be implemented in five phases, each lasting around three months, starting on 1 July 2021. This is of huge concern for South African motorists and businesses that rely on road transport.
- From next month the agency will begin laying the groundwork for the national rollout of Aarto
- The AA says there are still too many unanswered questions surrounding the implementation of South Africa’s new driving infringement system
- The last official information the public received about Aarto was on 19 May 2021
- Phase 1 will also be where the RTIA ensures that the IT infrastructure is sufficient. This is so the National Traffic Information System (Natis) will be responsive to the Aarto system
- Each phase to take roughly three months to implement and that it is currently not decided how the demerit points system will be phased in
How the demerit points system works
Under the new demerit system, motorists will be allowed to accumulate 15 demerit points on their licence before it is suspended. A licence may be suspended twice before it is cancelled.
There are currently 2 659 offences listed on the Aarto website.
When you receive a fine, you can choose to do one of five things:
- Pay the fine within 32 days of receipt of the notice and receive an automatic 50% discount on the fine amount.
- If the infringement notice issued is being disputed, the alleged infringer is allowed to make a representation. RTIA will adjudicate on the merits and if successful, the issued infringement notice will be cancelled.
- Upon receipt of an infringement notice via registered mail, the alleged infringer is also allowed to make an arrangement with RTIA for paying their fine in instalments for fines of R750 or more over a period of six months.
- Elect to be tried in court.
- If they were not the designated driver of the vehicle at the time the traffic violation was committed, nominate a driver.
If you elect to the pay the fine, or if you lose your case in court, 0–6 demerit points will be added to your licence depending on the offence committed.
Receiving a fine after the implementation of the upcoming Aarto demerit system won’t only mean losing points against your licence, but you might also find yourself liable for an additional R100 in taxes, according to the Automobile Association.
This is what the AA interprets after studying the recently published draft regulations for the Aarto Act, where mention is made of an ‘Infringement Penalty Levy’.
“With regards to the Infringement Penalty Levy, the regulations directly imply the imposition of a tax. In this case, it refers to a fee payable for every infringement notice issued to motorists,” the AA said.
“On our interpretation of the draft regulation, this means an additional R100 is added to each fine issued, regardless of the value of the fine or its associated demerit points. In other words, if a motorist receives a R200 or R2000 fine, an additional R100 must be added for the Infringement Penalty Levy, which amounts to a tax for actually receiving the fine,” the AA added.
This could add up to a lot of money.
The association also criticised the “complicated and cumbersome” systems in place for motorists to check the status of their demerit points, and the lack of an easy online system for making inquiries. Instead, motorists must pay up to R240 to enquire as to the status of their demerit points.
Earlier this month, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that Aarto was expected to be “in full effect” from June 2020.
As previously reported, motorists will lose a certain amount of points for every road infringement committed. This will differ depending on the offence in question. Most speeding fines will likely result in two to four points being deducted, while exceeding the limit by 40km/h or driving intoxicated will see six points deducted.
The points will accumulate over time and for every point exceeding 12 points, drivers will have their licence suspended for three months, only to be gained back at a rate of one point every three months, assuming that no further contraventions occur.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has previously expressed strong doubt that the government will be ready to implement Aarto by the middle of next year, and plans to challenge the constitutionality of the new law due to what it calls flawed administrative processes.
The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) is a piece of legislation that has been around for some time, but is yet to be fully implemented.