The Implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) and the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill
21 Sep 2020
AARTO was made an Act of Parliament in 1998 (the “Act”) and further amendments were promulgated in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2019. The Act has only been implemented in Tshwane (on 1 July 2008) and in Johannesburg (on 1 November 2008) on a pilot basis. The AARTO Amendment Act of 2019 was signed by President Ramaphosa on 13 August 2019 with no commencement date stipulated (i.e. the date of commencement is still to be proclaimed). Whereas the Department of Transport had intended to effect a national roll-out in June 2020 this was not achieved due to the impact that the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (“RTIA”), which has been established to administer the system, sustained as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An overview of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act NO.46 of 1998 (“AARTO”) as amended
1. The Administrative System
The AARTO system will be used for traffic offences where an alleged offender has the option of paying a fine. The RTIA has been established to administer the system. Public prosecutors will no longer be able to reduce penalties in the AARTO system. Prosecutors will only deal with road traffic offences that are classified as such in Schedule 3 of the Act’s Regulations.
2. Significant changes from the criminal procedure system
2.1. Section 17(5) of the Act makes it an infringement if the owner of a motor vehicle does not have the required particulars of any person who drives or is in charge of his/her vehicle. He/she is compelled to keep the following information on persons driving his/her vehicle:
- Full names
- Residential address
- Postal address
- A copy or extract of the person’s acceptable identification (ID or driving licence card).
2.2. Section 73 of the National Road Traffic Act No. 93 of 1996 (“NRTA”) applies where the owner does not have the details of the driver of his/her vehicle. This therefore means that the owner will be presumed to have driven the vehicle if the driver is unknown to the Authorities.
2.3. Section 32 of the Act provides that after 10 days of posting a notice by registered mail it is presumed a person has received it. This means that a person has to prove that he/she has not received a notice by way of an affidavit, and it is not the duty of the Authority who posted the notice to show that he/she was served with a notice.
2.4. Drivers have to complete an AARTO 27 form to allow their employers access to their demerit points. The form is only valid for a 12-month period.
2.5. Companies must nominate the drivers who are responsible for infringements on an AARTO 07 form. The issuing authority must then withdraw the notice against the company and charge the driver for the infringement. If the nomination is not correct, the notice will be re-issued to the company. A driver who is nominated may not re-nominate and the initial nomination must contain the correct driver information.
3. The demerit point system
3.1. The Act provides for a system whereby a person, operator or juristic person who is not an operator, pays the penalty and incurs points when a traffic infringement is committed. Provisions for a juristic person who is not an operator was included in the 2019 Amendment Act. The term refers to companies, close corporations, trusts, and the like that have motor vehicles that are licensed in the juristic person’s name but do not require operator cards. A motor vehicle licence disc will be suspended if the vehicle accrues more than 15 demerit points.
3.2. The offender/infringer receives a penalty, and in addition to the penalty, he/she also receives the demerit points allocated in Schedule 3 to the specific infringement or offence. If the demerit points exceed the maximum points (15 points), a person, operator or juristic person who is not an operator will be disqualified from driving or using the vehicle for a certain period of time (3 months for every point exceeding 15 points).
3.3. A person’s driving licence card and the operator card of a motor vehicle must be handed in for the duration of the disqualification period. Upon a third disqualification, the licences will be cancelled, and such person must apply for a new learner licence and driving licence once the disqualification period is over.
The National Road Traffic Amendment Bill (the “Bill”)
The Bill was introduced in parliament by the Minister of Transport in June 2020 with the intention of amending and introducing new changes to the National Road Traffic Act No. 93 of 1996 (the “Principal Act”). The Bill introduces several amendments, arguably the amendment to section 65 of the Principal Act is of significance to many road users as it imposes a zero-tolerance policy on driving while under the influence of alcohol. The zero-tolerance policy has been proposed as a result of the research findings conducted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation in collaboration of the South African Medical Research Council and the University of South Africa which indicated that driver alcohol intoxication accounts for 27.1% of fatal crashes in the country.
It is currently legal for drivers to drive whilst under the influence of alcohol provided that their blood-alcohol concentration level is under 0.05g per 100ml and 0,24mg breath alcohol content per 1000ml. The Bill is currently tabled before parliament and will only become law once it has been approved by both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces and signed into law by the President.
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- Drunk driving and the law