AA Legal Eagle: Traffic Fines – What Are The Rules?
11 June 2013:
There has been considerable media interest recently in whether or not the fines from the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) have been legally issued, and therefore whether or not the driver is liable to pay the fine. The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) provides clarity on what your rights are as a motorist.
The article in The Star newspaper on 21 May mentions that “Joburg motorists won’t be prosecuted for any offence since 22 December, 2012, and every fine issued since then can be torn up and thrown into the waste-paper bin.” This is not strictly the case.
It is correct that if you have received a fine via ordinary mail it is not legal and then unenforceable, but it is important to note that you cannot simply tear it up and throw it away. Only traffic fines issued via registered mail are legal but even the illegal fines remain on the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) system.
The only way to remove these fines altogether is to fill in an AARTO 08 form. This form can be filled in on the AARTO website and submitted online in the event of a dispute over the legitimacy of the fine. The driver has sixty four (64) days from the date of offense to submit this form. In this case the cause for discrepancy is the illegal manner in which the fine was issued i.e. via ordinary mail.
Although you cannot legally be arrested for these fines because they are illegal, without submitting the AARTO 08 form and clearing the fine, it can still have a knock on effect when reapplying for your driver’s licence or renewing your car licence as these cannot be issued with outstanding fines against your name. It also means that if you are stopped at a road block the JMPD can still harass you into paying these fines.
It is important to note that the onus is on each motorist to establish whether or not they have outstanding fines. There are various websites that make this process simple and easy. These include Payfine.co.za
, to name a few. Unfortunately there are some limitations with this. Not all municipalities subscribe to these portals and not all motorists have access.
At this stage in terms of the Prescription Act, the Act does not place a prescription period on debts to government (national or local), meaning there is no expiry date for your traffic fines. It is best to take responsibility for your actions on the road and avoid this headache altogether by simply obeying the rules of the road.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1180