06 Sep

How Does The Point Demerit System Really Work Under SA’s New Road Laws?



Back in February 2019, the South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport accepted the final changes to the controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) bill, which President Cyril Rhamaposa has finally signed into law earlier in August however an implementation date has yet to be announced.

The proposed points system is very similar to what is already used in several European countries. Fundamentally, points are added onto motorists’ licences if they commit a road offence. Once the motorist has reached a certain number of points, the licence can be suspended and if the motorist continues to commit offences, the licence can be taken away or effectively cancelled.

Here’s what you need to know about the demerit system:

What is the objective of AARTO?

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill (AARTO) seeks to amend the provisions of the 1998 version of the “principal Act” to improve the efficiency and financial sustainability of issuing authorities as a well as the much-feared demerit system.

Understanding the infringer, infringement notice and infringement

Section 18 of the principal Act is to be amended as follows:

“(1)(a) An infringer who has been served with an infringement notice alleging that he or she has committed an infringement, may make a representation in the prescribed manner, with respect to that notice and infringement to the Authority.

‘‘(7) If the representations are rejected, the representations officer may advise the infringer of his or her right of review or appeal to the Tribunal and must serve or cause to be served on the infringer a prescribed written notification.”

Section 20 of the principal Act is be amended as follows:

(1)    If an infringer fails to comply with the requirements of a notification contemplated in section 18(7) or a courtesy letter contemplated in section 19(2)(b) or has failed to apply for review or appeal to the Tribunal, as the case may be, the registrar must–

  1. a)   issue an enforcement order;
  2. b)   record the demerit points incurred by the infringer in the national contraventions register;
  3. c)   notify the infringer that the demerit points have been recorded;
  4. d)   provide the infringer with a print-out of the demerit points incurred by him or her to date, together with an indication of the number of points left before his or her driving licence, professional driving permit, any permit or licence issued in terms of any road traffic legislation or transport legislation or operator card is suspended in terms of section 25 or cancelled in terms of section 27 of the principal Act.

(3)(b) An enforcement order must state that failure to comply with the requirements of the   enforcement order within 32 days after the service of the order, will result in a warrant being issued to recover the applicable penalty and fees.

  • In terms of section 24 of the principal Act–

(1) any person who has committed an offence or an infringement, incurs the number of demerit points prescribed under section 29(c) in accordance with subsections (2) and (3).

(2) demerit points are incurred on the date on which the penalty and fee, if any, imposed for the infringement are paid, an enforcement order is issued or the infringer is convicted of the offence, as the case may be.

(3)(a) if a person has committed two or more infringements or is convicted by a court of two or more   offences arising out of the same circumstances, demerit points are recorded, subject to paragraph (b), only in relation to one such infringement or offence, being, in any case where the same number of demerit points does not apply to all those infringements or offences, the infringement or offence to which the greatest number of demerit points applies.

  (b) the demerit points in respect of offences or infringements by operators and drivers   are recorded separately even if they arise out of the same circumstances.

What is the impact of AARTO on a person, operator or a juristic person who is not an operator?

Section 25 of the principal Act is hereby amended as follows:

(1) If a person, operator or a juristic person who is not an operator, incurs demerit points which, when added to the points previously recorded against that person, operator or a juristic person who is not an operator in the National Road Traffic Offences Register and reduced as contemplated in section 28, exceed the total contemplated in section 29(d), that person, operator or a juristic person who is not an operator is disqualified within 32 days, after such excess points have been incurred, from driving or operating a motor vehicle on a public road.

(3) A person, who is disqualified–

(a) must, within a period of 32 days, hand in any driving licence card, professional driving permit, motor vehicle licence disc, operator card or any other permit, card or licence issued in terms of road traffic legislation or transport legislation, where applicable, in the prescribed manner to the relevant issuing authority contemplated in section 26(2) for retention by such issuing authority during the disqualification period; and

(b) may not apply for a driving licence, professional driving permit or operator card, motor vehicle licence disc, operator card or any other permit, card or licence disc issued in terms of road traffic legislation or transport legislation during the disqualification period.

‘‘(4) In the event that a person, operator or a juristic person who is not an operator, fails to comply with the provisions of subsection (3)(a) and drives or operates a motor vehicle during his or her disqualification period, his or her licence permit, card or licence issued in terms of any road traffic legislation or transport legislation is suspended for a further period of one year for every subsequent driving or operation and such person is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both a fine and such imprisonment.”

In conclusion

The new Bill will potentially affect all employers who fall within this category due to its potential to impair and/or restrict an employee’s ability to operate a vehicle for business purposes. SERR Synergy assist employers who rely on road transportation as a core business or employees who make frequent use of road transportation from client to client. We will also assist employers to update their policies in line with the Bill once passed in its final form. We further conduct incapacity inquiries should an employee no longer have the ability to operate a motor vehicle for business purposes.


About the author: Jared Francis joined SERR Synergy in October 2016, and currently holds the title of KZN Labour Manager. He is an admitted attorney who has practised in KZN and Gauteng. He holds an LLB degree, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Relations and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Forensic Investigation from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He also holds Post-Graduate Certificates in Advanced Labour Law, Corporate Law, Advanced Human Resource Management and Health and Safety from UNISA and has more than 10 years’ experience in the legal and industrial relations fields respectively.


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