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Stricter Driving Rules Introduced with Demerit System in South Africa



Demerit System in South Africa

South African motorists should prepare for more stringent driving rules as the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act implements a demerit system.

The demerit point system aims to discourage drivers from disregarding traffic regulations by jeopardising their driving privileges when they violate the law.

Already in effect in Johannesburg and Tshwane, the Aarto Act is set to be rolled out nationwide. Under this system, drivers will face penalties and accumulate points for traffic violations.

Initially, drivers will begin with a clean slate, having zero points, but they will start accruing demerit points through the Aarto process.

The current maximum threshold is set at 12 points. Surpassing this limit will lead to various consequences, including license suspension or cancellation.


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Notably, the new legislation also penalises drivers and assigns demerits for administrative offences, such as failing to update their addresses.

If the accumulated demerit points exceed the threshold, a driving license will be suspended for three months per demerit point over the limit. Importantly, the suspension period is not limited to three months only.

For example, suppose the threshold is set at 12 points, and the accumulated points reach 15 before suspension. In that case, the resulting suspension period will be nine months. Similarly, if the threshold is 15 points, and 17 points are accumulated before suspension, the suspension period will be six months.

A driving license or operator card can only be suspended twice. During a license suspension, the license holder is prohibited from driving. Likewise, the associated vehicle cannot be operated while an operator card is suspended.


Driving with a suspended license is considered a criminal offence, as is operating a vehicle with a suspended operator card.

If a driving license or operator card has already been cancelled twice, and additional demerit points exceeding the threshold are accumulated, the license or card will be cancelled. The driver will then have to start afresh with an earner’s license once the ban period has expired.

Source: Stricter driving rules and new demerit system for SA motorists

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Photo: Supplied by Cape Town ETC

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