How South Africa's looming motorist demerit system will work


As a result of much confusion among South Africans, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency has launched an educational awareness programme to prepare for the national implementation of the AARTO Act and the point demerit system.

According to, an AARTO infringement notice is a traffic fine which says that it is an AARTO infringement notice across the top of the notice.

“We are seeking to address the pervasive amount of road crashes and the amount of people who die on our roads because of road crashes and simply because the poor behaviour that we exhibit as road users,” said Zukisa Nduneni, Spokesperson for the RTIA.


She adds: “What it simply says is that, if you have contravened the rules of the road, you have committed an infringement, you therefore have to be exposed to more than what we have been accustomed to which is to pay a penalty.”

The infringements and demerit system of licencing cards aims to inform motorists that their behaviour is unacceptable and will be changed as well as for one to understand the rules, rights and obligations as a motorist, she explains.

“One of the key things that we have to explain about AARTO is that it is meant to provide for us an administrative platform to adjudicate over road traffic offences as opposed to having us going to court and clogging the court processes with non-criminal issues,” Nduneni said.

The misconception right now Nduneni says is that people need to understand that e-tolls and AARTO are two different things.

“They are not aligned – however as the platform (AARTO) is for road infringements, if you do not pay for your toll, whether it’s a physical toll through a gantry or a boom-gate, you have committed an offence that is the only time that the road traffic agency comes in – and we do not come in to collect fines contrary to what has been made popular.”

To not pay is the same process, “having an infringement notice issued to you and a courtesy letter to remind you that you have not heeded the call and an enforcement letter will be issued to you.”

As a motorist who has been found not to have paid any form of a toll, you can either pay that fine on the spot which will get you a 50 per cent reward because you are paying within the first 32 days of notification.

As far as driver’s licences go, they will be held back if you exceed 12 demerit points, so whenever you commit an infringement or offence, demerits will be allocated to you according to the severity of the offence, for example, driving an unlicensed vehicle allocates the driver with one point. 

See some examples of the infringements in the tables below.

Demerit System

“When you are abiding by the rules of the road, you should not be afraid of anything – however if you do happen to be on this side of the road where you tend not to obey the rules of the road, you should be a bit worried about that.”

Demerit System 2

When you reach the 13th point, and if it is for the first time, your licence will get held back and if it is more than once, it will be cancelled.

If that happens then you have to submit yourself to a driver rehabilitation programme, where you cannot commit any offence for three months or more.

“For each three month period you get merited back with one point for not committing further offences, however if you perpetually commit these offences your driver’s licence can be suspended or can be cancelled.”