Keeping track of AARTO developments, updates and delays can quickly become a fleet management nightmare. To lend a hand we will be keeping track of all relevant changes and how these can be easily managed.
The Administrative and Adjudication of Roadside Offences (AARTO) can become an admin headache if you are running any kind of company fleet.
The aim behind AARTO is to make the law enforcement and adjudication process more efficient and effective and make offenders more responsible for traffic infringements. The AARTO Act replaces the Criminal Procedure Act in prosecuting road traffic offences which are categorised as infringements (misdemeanours). It is administered by the “Road Traffic Infringement Authority” (RTIA), which is a State-Owned Entity funded almost solely by traffic fines.
The latest updates on AARTO
Source: AARTO Explained (Note: the official aarto.gov.za website is currently not working)
The amended AARTO Process
The amended AARTO process comprises three steps, which in turn involve several sub-processes, depending on how you, as a motorist react. Throughout its processes, the duty is on the motorist to act and failure to do so will result in consequences of varying severity.
- An infringement notice;
- A courtesy letter; and
- An enforcement order.
It should be noted that an “infringement penalty levy” (“IPL”) of R100 is payable on every infringement notice the RTIA “follows up by proper administrative processes”. The IPL must be paid in full and is not subject to any discount.
The AARTO Amendment Act provides for service of documents in person, electronically, or by post. It disposes of the need for so-called “registered mail” to be used to post infringement notices and other documents.
The AARTO Amendment Act also bars an alleged infringer from succeeding in making representation that one or more AARTO documents were not served on him or her.
An infringement notice is either issued and served on the driver at the roadside, at the time of the alleged violation or on the registered owner of a vehicle, after the fact. It constitutes the commencement of legal proceedings against the person cited in it.
- Infringement notices are issued by “issuing authorities” like SANRAL, SAPS, Metro Police, and local and provincial traffic departments, to mention but a few. It is not their function to collect the monies associated with infringement notices and they have no mandate to force anyone to pay fines at a roadblock.
- If an infringement notice is issued and served at the time of the alleged violation, the person cited in it will obviously be aware of it because it will be handed to him or her by a traffic officer. The countdown to other processes starts immediately.
- If an infringement notice is issued after the fact, it must be delivered to the registered owner by post or electronically.
- If it is served by post, it must be addressed to the address nominated on eNaTIS by the registered owner and delivered by the SA Post Office.
- As previously mentioned, if it is served electronically, any electronic means may be used. This is because the definition of “electronic service” is extremely broad. It does not only include email.
- In both cases (electronic or postal), the infringement notice must be issued and served within 60 days of the alleged infringement. If it is not delivered before that time, the countdown to other processes automatically starts after 60 days from the alleged infringement.
- Also, in both cases, the infringement notice is deemed to have been served (received by its addressee) on the tenth day of position unless the contrary is proven.
An infringement notice sets out the details of the alleged infringement and provides the alleged infringer with various options which may be exercised within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of the infringement notice:
- Pay the penalty (fine) at the 50% discounted rate;
- Apply to pay in instalments, over a maximum term of six months and in so doing, to forfeit the discount;
- Make a written representation to the RTIA setting out why one should not be held liable for the alleged infringement; or
- In the case of infringement notices issued to registered owners of vehicles, to nominate the driver if he or she was not the driver. Doing this should see the infringement notice being cancelled and a new infringement notice being issued to the actual driver.
The function of the RTIA is to act as a debt collector for traffic fines and the fees it raises, together with considering things like written representations from motorists and administering the points demerit system.
A vehicle owner may nominate the driver within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of an infringement notice. He or she may not do so after that time.
- A form AARTO 07 must be used to nominate the driver.
- A clear copy of the said driver’s driving licence card must be submitted together with the nomination form.
NOTE: Once a courtesy letter has been issued, the actual driver of a vehicle may not be identified and nominated. The requisite demerit points will be applied against the registered owner’s driving licence (natural persons) or licence disc (juristic entities).
- If an alleged infringer fails to act within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of the courtesy letter, the RTIA must issue an “enforcement order”.
Points demerit system
Part of the AARTO Act is the introduction of a points demerit system. All points demerit systems in the world have similar features, although the South African version differs in as much as it is subjected to administrative processes which do not involve the courts.
- Every driver, operator or juristic entity starts with zero points;
- Differing demerit points for each violation are prescribed in Schedule 3 to the AARTO regulations;
- As infringements are incurred by drivers or vehicles, the demerit points are associated with that violation. They are applied when:
- The penalty (fine) is paid, whether at the discounted stage or not;
- When an enforcement order is issued; or
- A person who is charged with a crime (“offence”) is convicted in court.
- The threshold of demerit points which may be incurred without consequence is 15 points.
If the threshold is exceeded, the relevant driving licence card, operator card, vehicle licence disc or operating permit is suspended for three months for each demerit point by which the threshold is exceeded. e.g. If 19 demerit points are incurred, the said document will be suspended for a year.
Driving or operating a vehicle during the prohibition period is a criminal offence, subject to a fine or imprisonment and a further six demerit points on conviction.
No person, operator, or juristic person may apply for a driving licence, professional driving permit, motor vehicle licence disc, operator card or any other permit, card or licence disc issued in terms of road traffic legislation or transport legislation during the suspension period.
Once a driving licence card, operator card or vehicle licence disc has been suspended twice, again exceeding the threshold will result in it being cancelled.
This means that, in the case of driving licenses, the person will have to start from scratch, with a learner’s licence if he or she wishes to drive again after the lapse of the prohibition period.
In the case of operator cards and vehicle licence discs, the draft regulations do not make it clear how or if the relevant document can be reinstated.
Demerit points are applied differently, depending on whether the person is a natural person or a juristic entity, or is an operator:
- Demerit points are applied to the driving licenses of natural persons.
- Demerit points are applied to the operator cards of vehicles which are classified as operator class vehicles. In many instances, demerit points are incurred by both the driver and the operator. In others, they are incurred on the operator cards of juristic entities who fail to nominate the driver.
- Demerit points are applied to the licence discs of vehicles owned by juristic entities which are not operators if the proxy for the juristic entity fails to nominate the driver within 32 days of the actual or presumed service of an infringement notice.
- Demerit points are forgiven and diminished by one point every three months. This is regardless of whether the alleged infringer does or does not incur further infringements. No one can accumulate a negative number of demerit points. Being a “good driver” is not rewarded. A law-abiding motorists’ “reward” is not to incur demerit points.
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