On 13 January 2022, The High Court declared the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Amendment Act, on which the planned demerit system for traffic offences is based, unconstitutional and invalid.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) challenged the constitutional validity of Aarto and the Aarto Amendment Act and asked the court in October 2021 to declare both the main Act and the amendment Act unconstitutional.
The court held that the legislation unlawfully intruded upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments envisaged in the Constitution, preventing local and provincial governments from regulating their own affairs.
However, on 12 July 2023, the Constitutional Court found that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) is constitutional.
On Wednesday, the apex court overturned an order of the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, which had found Aarto to be unconstitutional and invalid and that it should be scrapped in its entirety.
In a unanimous decision delivered by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the justices agreed that Aarto and the way notices would be served to alleged offenders were not inconsistent with the Constitution. The court also concluded that Parliament had the competence to pass the Act.
What Aarto means for drivers
The key change to South Africa’s Road laws through the Aarto would be the introduction of a demerit system whereby a person, operator, or company (juristic person) pays the penalty and incur points when a traffic infringement is committed.
Drivers will start with zero points and will “earn” demerit points as and when applicable through the Aarto process, where demerit points are allocated.
Currently, the threshold is a maximum of 12 points, with the proposed amendments recommending 15 points. From point 13, the various sanctions of suspension or cancellation of a driving licence will occur, as defined in the Aarto legislation.
The laws also make provision for new offences to be added, even those relating to admin, such as failing to update addresses.
The RMI will continue to keep its valued members updated on developments in this regard.