Those found guilty of breaking road rules by a court of law will have to complete a mandatory rehabilitation programme under the new proposed demerit system, Parliament has heard. The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill will establish rehabilitation centres around the country for such offenders, the portfolio committee on transport heard on Thursday. If a driver or taxi operator is arrested and found guilty of a road offence, they must attend a programme at a rehabilitation centre as part of their sentence, Peter Baloyi of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency said.
“Once they have completed the programme, we then reduce the demerit points by three,” Baloyi said. Court action is still reserved for serious road crimes under existing law. Under the new bill, for other or minor infringements, road users will have a 12-point demerit threshold before their licences are suspended.
Thereafter, every point gained above the threshold earns the road user a suspension. A licence will be suspended for three months at a time. Conversely, if a road user commits no offences in a three-month period, their demerits are reduced by one point.
Drivers who have breached the demerit threshold, but have not been found guilty of a road crime, may voluntarily attend an approved rehabilitation centre in order to reduce their demerit points by three.
Baloyi told reporters after the presentation that the bill was still being debated in Parliament, and therefore was not law yet. However, the idea of rehabilitation centres would be passed in some form once the bill was signed into law, and the finer details would then be approved. He said an example of how the demerit system would work could include a driver receiving two to three demerits for exceeding a given speed limit by between 10km/h – 20km/h.
They, therefore, realistically could commit four or five “minor” infringements before having their licence suspended. Learner drivers could also face rehabilitation for multiple infringements. A learner driver had a threshold of six demerit points before they would be referred to a rehabilitation centre.
They would still be able to take their driver’s tests, but would have to complete the rehabilitation programme before the licence was issued, Baloyi added.