Information provided by Adv Mncedisi Bilikwana and Monde Mkalipi (RTIA)
Compiled by Kotie Geldenhuys
In South Africa, fatalities due to vehicle crashes are a major contributor to unnatural deaths impacting negatively on our economic development and growth. The government and other road safety role-players are of the opinion that the introduction of a demerit point system will have a positive impact on the carnage on our roads. During the launch of Transport Month in Gauteng in October 2019, Pres Cyril Ramaphosa said: “AARTO is one of the interventions to forge a more effective and efficient link between enforcement and a transparent and fair adjudication process. The Act promotes responsible behaviour on our roads through the creation of a demerit system, which introduces meaningful consequences for reckless, negligent and inconsiderate conduct” (Lindwa, 2019).
AARTO has been dragging on for more than 20 years, yet when Pres Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Bill into law in 2019, there were more questions than answers. Thus, when Adv Mncedisi Bilikwana from the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) spoke about AARTO during the Intelligence Transfer Centre’s (ITC) 11th Road Safety Summit at the end of 2019, Servamus asked him for his input on this widely discussed and much debated topic.
The CPA vs AARTO
The purpose of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) 51 of 1977 is to regulate procedures and related matters in criminal proceedings. In other words, it governs how criminal cases are handled in courts of law. Currently, all traffic contraventions in terms of the provisions of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 and its Regulations are administered in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, although Tshwane and Johannesburg have been proclaimed AARTO jurisdictions.
The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) is the custodian of AARTO. Through AARTO, the RTIA promotes road safety and quality driving by providing a scheme to discourage road traffic contraventions, facilitate adjudication of road traffic infringements and implement a points demerit system. Through AARTO, infringements will be resolved administratively rather than being taken through courts, except for the prosecution of road traffic offences in terms of national and provincial legislation. Section 23 of AARTO provides that if a person is alleged to have committed an offence and an infringement arising out of the same set of facts, such person must, despite the provisions of AARTO, be dealt with in terms of the CPA.
AARTO processes and elective options
The processes under the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offence (AARTO) Act 46 of 1998 dictate that a person or proxy of a company would receive an infringement notice (fine) and that such a person or proxy may exercise one of the five following elective options:
- Pay the discounted amount (50% within the stipulated 32 days). After 32 days, the total penalty amount for the main charges must be paid.
- Nominate a driver within 32 days after receiving an infringement notice. This can be the route to follow when a person or proxy receives a ticket, but was not the driver of the vehicle. The actual driver, who committed the infringement or the person who was in control of the vehicle, is then nominated.
- Make a representation in which the fine is disputed or state a valid reason why she or he must not be held liable for this fine.
- Arrange to pay in instalments.
- Elect to be tried in court. In terms of the newly promulgated AARTO Act, this option is not listed within the AARTO process. However, it remains within the constitutional right of the infringer to pursue once all the other AARTO options have been sufficiently exhausted.
Should a person fail to exercise any of the options for a period of 32 days after having received the penalty, a reminder, in the form of a courtesy letter will be sent and the person will then have to:
- Pay the full penalty amount;
- make a representation (dispute the fine or state a valid reason why she or he must not be held liable for this fine);
- arrange to pay the fine in instalments; or
- elect to be tried in court.
Failure to exercise one of these four options will result in an enforcement order which is an authorisation to block such a person from renewing his or her driving licence, Professional Driving Permit (PrDP) or vehicle licence. Motorists who receive notices like these should visit their nearest Driver Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) to verify their infringement status on the eNatis system or contact the RTIA Call Centre at tel: 086 122 7861 or submit queries via www.aarto.gov.za for all AARTO-related enquiries.