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New demerit system will 'milk motorists'

08 September 2017 - 05:58 By Jan Bornman
Image: Gallo Images

Justice Project SA chairman Howard Dembovsky has vowed to challenge the controversial Aarto Amendment Bill in court once it has been signed into law.

The bill introduces a demerit system for road traffic offenders.

"Something is terribly wrong here. This not only violates the constitution but the principles of the justice system," Dembovsky told The Times.

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Amendment Bill was passed in parliament this week, with only the endorsement of the National Council of Provinces and President Jacob Zuma's signature required for it to become law.

"The NCOP will open another consultative process for all stakeholders to [canvass] their opinions and make contributions to the Aarto Amendment Bill," said Road Traffic Infringement Agency spokesman Monde Mkalipi.

"The infringement agency encourages all stakeholders, including Justice Project SA, to make use of the consultative periods in the law-making process of parliament,'' he said.

Dembovsky said the demerit system introduced by the Aarto Act would leave motorists powerless to defend themselves.

He said the removal of the lower courts system from the Aarto process, and replacing it with a compulsion to make written submissions, and pay an application fee to a tribunal, is nothing more than a means to make money.

"They've turned traffic-law enforcement into one thing, and one thing only - and that's a revenue stream," he said.

How does the demerit system work?

The draft regulations for the Aarto Act say that all drivers and cars will start with zero points. Points are allocated to drivers and cars based on infringements, and demerit points will be deducted at a rate of one point every three months provided no points have been incurred over that period.

Driving without a seatbelt and driving 131km/h-135km/h in a 120km/h speed zone: a R250 fine and no demerit points.

Offences including driving an unregistered or unlicensed vehicle; driving with no licence plate visible; holding and using a cellphone; skipping a stop sign and skipping a red light: a R500 fine and one demerit point.

Six demerit points will be given to drivers under the influence of alcohol; exceeding 100km/h in a 60km/h zone, 140km/h in a 100km/h zone, and 160km/h in a 120km/h zone. In addition, a fine determined by a court will be imposed.