Heels & Horsepower Magazine

AARTO: We Answer Your Questions About The Basics

What is AARTO? 

It is a law which creates an administrative process for handling less serious traffic violations which were previously handled by the criminal justice system.   It also introduces the concept of demerit points to deter habitual infringers. 

How are traffic violations treated by AARTO? 

AARTO divides traffic violations into two categories: infringements, which are less serious violations, and offences, which are more serious (such as reckless driving and drunken driving). The majority of traffic violations will be regarded as infringements. 

Schedule 3 to the AARTO Act shows which violations are regarded as infringements or offences. Offences are not handled administratively and require an appearance in court. 

Who administers AARTO? 

The AARTO Act creates the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA – soon to become the Road Traffic Infringement Authority) which will administer the Act. 

Who falls under AARTO? 

All road users, meaning private individuals, companies which own vehicles which don’t require an operator card (juristic persons), and companies which own vehicles which do require an operator card (operators). 

How does AARTO handle infringements? 

Infringements require the payment of a fine, which may initially be paid at a discount of 50%. If the fine remains unpaid after 32 days, the full fine is payable, and the motorist will be liable for the additional cost of a courtesy letter reminding them of the infringement notice.

What if I completely ignore a fine? 

If a fine remains unpaid for a further 32 days after a courtesy letter was issued, an enforcement order is issued. Under AARTO, unpaid fines do not proceed to summons and a court appearance. 

What happens if I have an enforcement order issued against me? 

An enforcement order comes with extra costs, and numerous licensing transactions will be blocked. For instance, you will be able to pay and renew your vehicle licence, but the authorities will not issue a licence disc. 

How are the fine values determined? 

Schedule 3 to the AARTO Act lists the relevant sections of the National Road Traffic Act, the charge code, demerit points and penalty units applicable to each traffic violation. 

A penalty unit is R100, so a charge with five penalty units would carry a fine of R500. 

The AA has requested the Department of Transport to review Schedule 3 in its entirety, since some trivial infringements unrelated to road safety (like not notifying the authorities of change of residential address within 14 days) carry a massive fine of R3000, while a serious violation like blinding oncoming traffic with one’s bright headlights has a fine of just R1500, despite the safety risk. 

I can’t afford the fine. What should I do? 

If you have exhausted the processes for contesting the fine, you can request to pay it in instalments over six months, in which case you will forfeit the discount. 

What else will I have to pay? 

A new fee of R100, the Infringement Penalty Levy (IPL), has been introduced, per infringement notice, although this amount may be increased by Ministerial regulation at any time. 

What if I wasn’t driving my car at the time? 

You can notify the authorities to redirect the infringement notice to the correct person. This is known as nomination. If you don’t know who was driving the car, you will be liable as the owner. 

What if I dispute the infringement notice? 

You can make a representation listing your objections, and the infringement notice will be reviewed for correctness and legality. 

Can an enforcement order only be issued against an individual? 

No. Enforcement orders can be issued against operators and juristic persons too. 

What if I’m not satisfied with the outcome of the representation process? 

You can approach the Appeals Tribunal to review your case. 

What if I dispute the Appeals Tribunal funding?

You can approach a Magistrate’s Court to have it reviewed, but be aware: the new amendments to the AARTO Act do not adequately outline the process for taking an infringement notice into the criminal justice system. 

As things currently stand, an enforcement order is not suspended while legal processes take place, meaning that a motorist who chooses to appeal their case to the Constitutional Court (the highest court in South Africa) would be blocked from many e-Natis transactions for as long as the case takes to conclude. 

This is at odds with the general rule that an appeal to a higher court automatically suspends an order or sentence after judgment until the appeals process is exhausted or the order or sentence is overturned. 

What are demerit points? 

Demerit points are an additional penalty to deter motorists from habitually committing traffic violations. Not all infringements attract demerit points. 

How many points can I incur, and what happens if I go over the limit? 

Your driving licence is suspended for three months for each point in excess of 15 (6 for a learner driver). 

Do demerit points fall away? 

Yes. For each three months in which you do not commit an infringement, one demerit point is removed. A driver with 15 demerit points against their licence will take almost four years to return to a clean licence if they do not commit any more infringements. 

A driver who attends a rehabilitation programme (yet to be defined by the RTIA) may have their points reduced by four upon successful completion. 

Do demerit points only apply to private individuals? 

No. They also apply to fleets of vehicles which are required to have operator cards, and to juristic persons, meaning an entity like a company or trust which owns a vehicle. In such cases, the demerit points are incurred against the vehicle’s operator card or licence disc, as may be the case. 

If a vehicle’s operator card or licence disc passes the 15-point maximum, it may no longer be driven on public roads. The sale or scrapping of a vehicle does not remove demerit points – they are automatically allocated to the next vehicle the operator or juristic person acquires, potentially leaving companies in a position where they have purchased a brand-new vehicle but cannot legally use it. 

Demerit points are removed at the rate of one every three months from operator cards and licence discs of vehicles owned by juristic persons, presuming no further infringements are committed. 

Small businesses and Corporate South Africa alike should take careful note of the above – poor driving standards by staff will lead to serious fleet management impacts. 

Will AARTO be a problem for companies which don’t own any vehicles? 

On the face of it, no. But if anyone incurs too many demerit points, they will be barred from driving until enough points fall away.

This will affect the ability of staff who are required to drive their private cars on business to do their jobs. AARTO does not distinguish between demerit points incurred in private time and those incurred while driving on company business, so companies whose staff drive on business are exposed to risk from poor driving standards, even if infringements occur in a staffer’s private time. 

Any company which has staff who drive on company business should have a plan to manage AARTO, including monitoring and reporting of staff demerit points, and implementing driving standards improvement programmes. 

How will AARTO impact on e-tolls in Gauteng? 

The Minister of Transport has indicated that, in light of serious concerns raised about e-tolls in the province, Cabinet will announce a decision on the future of the system going forward. It’s unclear when that announcement will be made. Until then, it’s not certain how AARTO will impact on the non-payment of e-tolls in Gauteng. 

Source: AASA

New Alcohol Laws Might Not Reduce Road Carnage in South Africa

Drinking and driving is a serious offense but the proposed laws changes to the law regarding drunk driving might cause more chaos than clarity for innocent motorists.

Proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Act to reduce the legal blood alcohol limits for drivers to zero will criminalise innocent motorists, and is unlikely to have the results authorities think it will. This is the view of the Automobile Association (AA) in response to the National Road Traffic Amendments Bill, published at the end of October.

Included in the Bill is an amendment of Section 65 which effectively changes the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers from 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres to 0.00g/100ml, and the breath alcohol concentration from 0.24g/1000ml also to zero. 

Someone who is using medication which contains alcohol will now be arrested, charged and possibly prosecuted for having a small dose of alcohol in their blood while their driving ability has not been impaired

“These proposed changes are concerning on a number of levels and although the stated reason for the change is the promotion of road safety, within the current framework of traffic law enforcement, nothing will change, except that innocent drivers are likely to be criminalised. For instance, someone who is using medication which contains alcohol will now be arrested, charged and possibly prosecuted for having a small dose of alcohol in their blood while their driving ability has not been impaired,” notes the AA.

The Association says the proposed amendment is again making motorists soft targets for traffic law enforcers, and that the desired outcomes of improved road safety will not be met. 

“How will traffic law enforcement change to accommodate this proposed amendment? And, perhaps more importantly, how will a single piece of legislation change driver’s attitudes when nothing else around traffic law enforcement changes at the same time?

“Without proper and implementable actions, we don’t believe the amendments relating to the alcohol levels will have a material impact on our abysmal road fatality statistics,” said the AA

The Association says simply drafting legislation does not equate to meaningful road safety intervention and that other more important steps must be taken. These include a more intense, widespread and constant focus on national road safety education, an increase in the number of traffic law enforcement officers, and improved prosecution of current drunk driver cases.

Another important aspect of effective traffic policing is to ensure law enforcement is visible and active around known areas of drinking and driving, and that proper action is taken against offenders.

The Association notes, “We need to be in a situation where people are afraid to drive if they have been drinking, and we stand by our messaging of drink or drive. However, within this framework – and the interventions we have outlined – we believe a reduction of the BAC limit to 0.02g/100ml would be a more effective, just, and appropriate approach to drunk driving in the country”.

The AA says motorists who drink and drive must assume they will be arrested because there are many alternatives available to those who want to drink and still be mobile. But, it says, legally reducing the BAC to zero is not the answer.

“We cannot have a situation where authorities are amending legislation in the hope that this will change our shocking crash statistics. The average of 13000 deaths on our roads annually is a national crisis and amending this one piece of legislation is not going to make a difference unless those interventions we mention all the time are also implemented,” says the AA.

If You Booze, You’ll Lose

Did you know that the smallest amount of alcohol can affect your driving ability?

In spite of all the safety campaigns and warnings about driving under the influence, South Africans continue to practise the dangerous habit of drinking, then driving.  For some odd reason, the messaging doesn’t seem to have the desired effect, and the general attitude appears to be “It won’t happen to me”.  

The truth however is that even the smallest amount of alcohol affects the neurological system in pretty much the same way.  Here are 6-simple ways in which the consumption of alcohols affects one’s ability to drive. 


Alcohol affects your ability to assess your position on the road, (e.g., where the centre line is), as well as the position of other elements such other road users, trees, road signs etc. Good judgement is also required for assessing your travelling speed and that of other vehicles.


The slightest delay in reacting to the fast changing road conditions can result in accidents, injuries or fatalities and because alcohol is a depressant, it slows down your reflexes considerably.  Some researchers report that the average person’s reaction time can be reduced as much as 15 – 25% which is a considerably long time should you need to stop or avoid an obstacle.  

The general attitude appears to be ‘It won’t happen to me’.


Small amounts of alcohol, as little as a BAC of 0.02%, can impair your ability to focus on the many tasks required to drive.  Once you lose concentration, you are at risk of causing or being unable to avoid an accident.  Alcohol diminishes your attention span, making it difficult to focus on everything necessary for safe driving.  It also makes you less likely to make rational decisions and you may be more inclined to drive in a manner that you wouldn’t normally drive when sober.  


Eye, hand and foot coordination are essential for safe driving but become severely impaired under the influence of alcohol, making it difficult to turn the steering wheel or apply brakes timeously.  This obviously makes a driver who has consumed alcohol a hazard to themselves and other road users

One Drink is One too Many


Alcohol is a depressant which means it triggers fatigue and drowsiness, making it difficult to pay attention on the road, or even remember that you are driving in the first place which is a frightening thought!  Many motorists fall asleep whilst driving resulting in complete loss of vehicular control, serious injury or even death.

If you are a motorist who has gotten away with driving drunk in the past heed our warning because it is only a matter of time before you become just another drunk driving statistic.  Not only could you serious injure yourself and others, you could be responsible for the death of your own family members too.  Our approach as responsible citizens towards driving under the influence should be “One Drink Is One Too Many” and we should all strive not to drink and drive.

3 Ways Parents subconsciously put their toddlers in danger: Part 1

As parents, keeping our kids safe from external factors is the norm, but what if we the parents, are the ones our kids need to be kept safe from! 

As parents, we know the importance of driving safely but not many of us consider that our own habits and practises could be more detrimental to our little occupants than the actions of other drivers around us. Here are a few behavioural traits that are harmful to the psyche of our loved ones which many of us are guilty of but can modify.


  1. Arguing while driving


It doesn’t happen very often but parents have been witnessed fighting, yelling and even getting physical in the car. Not only does this type of irrational behaviour distract (and amuse) other motorists, it also puts everyone in the car in grave danger and has long term negative effects on the minor passengers. 


Keep the heated discussions for the privacy of your bedroom.  Not only is it emotionally unhealthy for the little ones to be exposed to the effects of the family’s dwindling finances or suspected extra marital affair, but verbal altercations can lead to reduced concentration resulting in near misses, fender bumpers or full on crashes.


2. Speeding


Being a working wife and mother, who also triples as a gym bunny, Michelin-star chef and support to her husband is a lot for any human being to manage on a daily basis. Hence it is understandable that a woman may find herself running late from time to time. As logical as speeding may seem it is highly imprudent and could result in death or serious injury to other motorists, yourself or your toddlers. 


Time management is one of the arduous aspects of adulating, but one which could save your life and the lives of those in and around your vehicle.  Applying your make-up can wait until you get to the office parking lot or restrooms even if it does mean you may have to hold your ID picture up to your face and sign in at the main gate.


3. Not having car insurance


More than 80% of the cars on our roads are uninsured which means at any given time you could be driving within the proximity of 2 – 3 uninsured vehicles; which sounds scary unless yours is also uninsured in which case you would be in the company of a minimum of 4 uninsured cars. The thing about being uninsured, even at a basic level is that you run the risk of being liable for the costs of repairs of your car and that of the other vehicle(s) you may have run into.


Most would agree that the responsible thing to do would be to investigate the various types of insurance policies you can sign up for which cover you for taking care of the other parties vehicle. We, however would advise that you get cover for your vehicle and occupants too so that you and your kids can receive the necessary medical attention in the event of an accident.



In some countries, driving distracted is ranked more dangerous than driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In our view however, regardless of the kids being in the car or not, driving without having your hands at the wheel or with your eyes fixed on the road ahead and around you is a recipe for a life threatening disaster. 


For the record, distracted driving includes fiddling with the radio controls, eating and drinking, applying make-up, grooming and trying to appease the little ones among other things.


The ABC’s of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Levels

Of course I can drive. I’m not that drunk.

We all know that drinking and driving is a lethal combination which could lead to embarrassing legal implications, serious injury or death; yet every evening, thousands of intoxicated motorists across the country make declarations of a similar nature, confident in the false knowledge that they are safe simply because they have in the past, gotten home alive. 

  1. Reaction Time: The more alcohol you consume, the longer it takes for your brain to process vital information. For instance, a movement such as lifting your foot off the accelerator might ordinarily take you 1 second, but under the effects of alcohol your reaction time could increase to 2 seconds or longer. 
  2. Impaired Vision: It is not unusual to experience blurred or double vision after a few drinks. Alcohol impairs your peripheral vision, meaning motorists become less aware of what is going on either to their left or right. Further, resulting in an inability to accurately identify pedestrians, trees, road signs and other vehicles. 
  3. Reduced Concentration: Driving requires your undivided attention for relatively minor tasks such as staying within one lane, monitoring vehicular, identifying obstacles etc., all of which diminish significantly when alcohol is introduced to the brain. 
  4. Lack of Coordination: Eye, hand and foot coordination are essential for driving but after a couple of drinks some motorists struggle with tasks as simple as inserting the key into the ignition.
  5. Poor Judgment: Your ability to plan, react, think, make sound decisions and process information become affected even with the smallest amount of alcohol in one’s system, all of which affect your ability to adopt to rapidly changing events on the road.

There is absolutely no justification for driving after drinking, particularly with the availability of apps such as Uber, Bolt not to mention the value of pre planning like arranging a designated driver or calling a friend. 

The decision not to drive after drinking is one which each and every one of us can and should make, and in order to keep the roads safe for all the right decision would be not to drink at all if you will need to drive afterwards. 

Remember, law enforcement agents do not prevent people from driving drunk, all they can do is punish those caught in the act. 

Strict Motoring Rules For 2020

Motorists will soon have to adjust their driving style in order to keep our of trouble with the law!  

Two major traffic laws come into effect in June 2020, according to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.  These are the new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act as well as a new zero-tolerance approach to drinking and driving.


Initially discussed in November 2019, Minister Mbalula has confirmed that motorists will no longer be permitted to mix alcohol and driving whatsoever.  Simply put, a 0% legal blood-alcohol limit will be effected meaning that the presence of even the smallest trace of alcohol detected in anyone operating a motor vehicle will be illegal. 

At present, South African legal limit is 0.05% and drivers who adhere to the stipulated alcohol unit permissible have been considered a within the legal alcohol limits.  The new law however does away with this completely from June 2020. 

According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, over 24, 000 people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol over the 2019/2020 festive season, a figure which translated to clost to one-third of all road related arrests made over the holiday period. This clearly shows just how dire the problem of drunk driving in our country is. 


In addition to the zero tolerance for alcohol law, Minister Mbalula also confirmed that June 2020 will see the introduction of the AARTO system, in which all traffic fines dispensed throughout the country will carry the same penal value.

That said, not all infringements will result in demerit points as roughly half of the violations laid out in Schedule 3 of the AARTO regulations do not bear any demerit points at all. 

The AARTO system stipulates that a drier may incur no more than 12-demerit points on their license.  Should a driver incur a 13thpoint however, their license, would be suspended for a period of 3-months per every point over the 12 points ‘allowed’. 

In spite of the criticism from organizations such as the AA and OUTA, Minister Mbalula remains undeterred and strongly warns motorists to prepare themselves for the introduction of the demerit system. 

“We are going live. We take points. We take away your driver’s license.  The President has signed this into law and now we are implementing it,” he said.