The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill and its stinging demerit system – was recently signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The Bill will come into effect when it appears in the Government Gazette, with the commencement date for its implementation not yet announced.
Instead of challenging a traffic infringement in a trial before a court, as is done now, the new system will see fined drivers undergoing an extrajudicial process to prove their innocence, all run and managed by the RTIA. Justice Project SA’s Howard Dembovsky said the bill rides roughshod over the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. “Your right to a trial has now been taken away. If a traffic officer issues a fine to you, that’s the end of it. They never have to prove your guilt,” he said.
Three strikes and you’re out
Motorists will lose a certain amount of points for every road infringement committed. This will differ depending on the offence in question. Most speeding fines should cost you between two and four points but exceeding the limit by 40km/h or driving intoxicated will see six points deducted. The points will accumulate over time and for every point exceeding 12 points, drivers will have their licence suspended for three months, only to be gained back at a rate of one point every three months, if no further contraventions occur. On the third suspension the licence will be revoked, with the driver required to retake learners and driver’s tests after the suspension lapses. Paying a fine will not offer any reprieve from the demerit system.
Will this new bill affect my insurance premiums?
The demerit system could potentially be linked to an underwriting criterion as it does reflect driving behaviour. Drivers with poor record on this system could face higher premiums or excess but that would be at the discretion of each insurer.
However this could be a good thing for most motorists who are generally law abiding as good drivers will ultimately pay less.
Will the repossession of licenses cause drivers’ claims/cover to be forfeited?
Based on current policy wording, cover will not exist if a driver does not have a valid license.
What should an insured car owner do when their license gets suspended?
They should notify their insurance company immediately
How could this new Bill affect the insurance industry as a whole?
The highest risk is that drivers could lose their licenses due to speeding fines (even minor ones) which could potentially mean that the existing motor policies will not respond or that they will not be able to get motor insurance.
We already have a very high percentage of uninsured vehicles on the road. This will increase uninsured vehicles on the road and will also have a severe impact on the recovery process after an accident.