AARTO has been declared lawful. Image: RTMC.

AARTO declared lawful: What this means for motorists

Constitutional Court ruling paves the way for countrywide driver demerit system.


AARTO has been declared lawful. Image: RTMC.

In a ruling in the Constitutional Court on Wednesday 12 July 2023, chief justice Raymond Zondo ruled AARTO is indeed lawful. This is after the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act, to use its full name, was deemed invalid and unconstitutional in a Pretoria High Court judgement back in January 2022.

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The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) was behind the case against AARTO in the Pretoria High Court. This action saw its implementation pushed back from a proposed start date of 1 July 2022. OUTA argued it was impractical and about making money for government rather than improving road safety in South Africa.


AARTO lawful
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: File.

This latest ruling paves the wave for, amongst other things, the long-talked-about introduction of a driver demerit system that will strip repeat offenders of their licenses, as well as the legal serving of fines via email.

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“In a unanimous judgment written by me, the Constitutional Court has upheld the contentions advanced by the minister of transport, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency [RTIA] and the Road Traffic Management Corporation. This court has concluded in this judgment that Parliament had the competence that AARTO is lawful.” said Zondo.


AARTO is lawful
Picture: RTMC/Facebook.

In reaction to the ruling that AARTO is lawful, OUTA said, “Just because the ConCourt has declared it constitutional doesn’t make it practical. Remember, e-Tolls were legal, yet failed spectacularly.”

The Automobile Association also weighed in. “While we naturally respect the Constitutional Court’s decision, we remain concerned that AARTO will not deliver on its intended outcomes of improving road safety and reducing road carnage on our roads. We stand by our previous views that the AARTO legislation is geared towards revenue collection and not on promoting safer roads,” said the AA.

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Nevertheless, this does have ramifications for South African motorists. Confusion has reigned for months with the understanding that AARTO has in fact been in operation in Johannesburg and Tshwane metros. Yes or no, Zondo’s unanimous ruling in the Constitutional Court does finally pave the way for the implementation of the driver demerit system countrywide.


We’ve collated several handy lists of AARTO violations, and the demerit points associated with them. Click on the links below to be in the know: