De-Merit Disorder

A recent spate of spam mail has seen consumers reeling in fear at the thought of exorbitant fines or worse, losing their driving licenses. “The de-merit system has been successfully implemented in many countries across the world where it has been an excellent deterrent to errant motorist behaviour on the roads,” says the AA.

However, glitches are bound to happen! The government has announced that the demerit system is in place, but in actual fact this is not the case. The Administrative Adjudication Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) system, or de-merit system, is being piloted in Tshwane and Johannesburg at present. The system is up and running, but only in terms of the new fine schedule, with points not yet being allocated to motorists. It is expected that the new AARTO de-merit system will only be implemented nationwide in November 2010.

It has not yet been decided now many points you will initially start off with, but it is envisaged that each driver will start with 12 points on a three year cycle. Offenders will be able to earn back lost points with one point being gained for each three months that no offence is committed.

AARTO will be managed by the RTMC and the RTMC’s infringement agency will be dealing with all fines and demerit points. Motorists need to be keenly aware that there is a danger in not having an independent body dealing with infringements which may lend to a level of coercion urging offenders to pay fines on the spot rather than contest fines in court.

According to the recent spam mail sent out, there is no grace for speeding. However, in terms of the prosecuting guidelines there is still a technical requirement to give motorists a 10% grace as there needs to be a leeway for certain cars that may not have speedometers that are completely accurate.

Motorists need to be aware that the new fine structure is stringent, and fines are very high, especially for speeding. More serious offences such as drunk driving will see offenders being sent directly to jail and the process will then fall into judicial hands. There will be compulsory sentencing in terms of serious offences such as drunk driving which will result in suspension or loss of a driving license.

Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126

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