Concourt rules Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act is valid

When the Aarto Amendment Act, passed last year, but not yet signed by the president comes into force, the system will be rolled out nationwide with a driver demerits points system. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

When the Aarto Amendment Act, passed last year, but not yet signed by the president comes into force, the system will be rolled out nationwide with a driver demerits points system. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 13, 2023

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Pretoria - The Constitutional Court yesterday ruled the system that governs the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act is valid and not unconstitutional.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) earlier managed to obtain an order in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, which declared the act invalid and unconstitutional.

The matter, however, turned to the Concourt to deliver the last word.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, in a unanimous finding, found Parliament had the competence to pass the act.

The Concourt disagreed with Outa’s position 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.

Outa had been vocal for many years about Aarto, which they believed would not effectively address the epidemic of road traffic fatalities and injuries.

Advocate Stefanie Fick, Outa executive director, said: “We are disappointed with the Concourt’s decision but abide by the apex court’s ruling. Outa believes that measures to improve road safety and reduce fatalities are urgently needed. However, we don’t believe that the Aarto Act will achieve this. It is just not practically possible. South Africa needs effective processes enabled by fair adjudication that comply with the Constitution.”

Outa is of the opinion the Aarto legislation results in troublesome and complex issues for most motorists and motor vehicle owners, and is concerned this legislation will not achieve the principal purpose of enhancing road safety.

“Outa believes that improving road safety is crucial and that any legislation or initiatives enhancing safety must be supported. Outa, however, does not believe that Aarto will be the silver bullet guaranteeing the implementation of the National Road Safety Strategy and the achievement of the targets of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety,” Fick said.

She added the Aarto Amendment Act with higher penalties, tedious and expensive procedures to be followed by the public and the total lack of prescription on visible policing would have little or no effect on improving road safety in South Africa.

Outa is of the opinion that the Aarto practical challenges are largely due to poor enforcement, a lack of administrative discipline when it comes to traffic infringement management and a variety of problems in the management of vehicle and driver licensing.

The Aarto Act was passed in 1998 and creates a single national system of road traffic regulation and enforcement through the judiciary.

The Aarto Amendment Act, passed last year, but not yet signed by the president, and not yet in operation, moves the enforcement of traffic laws to an administrative system.

When the amendment comes into force, the Aarto system will be rolled out nationwide, and the driver demerits points system will commence.

Pretoria News

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