Johannesburg – Given that October is National Transport month, we’ve been focused even more than usual on responsible driving, following the rules of the road and being considerate of other road users – because that’s what road safety is all about.
But Rory Judd, head of online marketing for MiWay Insurance, has a slightly different take on Transport Month. Sooner or later, he says, we all get pulled over, whether for speeding or for some other offence, something you may not have even been conscious of doing.
Either way, getting busted nearly always comes as a nasty surprise, (if it doesn’t, you need to ask yourself why you get so many fines!) and it’s worth knowing the ground rules, so you can avoid getting yourself into any more trouble and/or unnecessary costs.
If you’re caught speeding in the Pretoria and Johannesburg metropolitan areas, you will be issued with an AARTO infringement notice. AARTO stands for Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences – it’s actually an attempt to de-criminalise the whole procedure and it provides for a number of options.
You can pay the fine within 32 days and get a 50 percent discount.
You can arrange to pay in monthly instalments (but then you won’t get any discount) by filling in a form AARTO 04 and the Road Traffic Infringement Agency will consider the application. If they agree, they’ll decide the amount and number of instalments, and you’ll have to make the first payment within 32 days of receiving the approval notice.
If you get a fine in the mail and you weren’t driving the vehicle when it got ‘flashed’ you can nominate the person who was – as long as you do it within 32 days of receiving the infringement notice.
You can choose to go to court; then, of course, the ‘administrative’ part of the deal falls away and a summons will be served.
YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT:
There are different types of AARTO notices, Judd says. If you get handed a Section 56 notice, you have 30 days to pay the fine. In the case of a Section 341 notice, however, you have about three months to pay the fine.
The traffic officer is supposed to point this out to you – but make sure you read the notice carefully anyway.
Warrants of arrest are never issued for outstanding fines – only for failing to appear in court after a summons has been served on you. In the same way, traffic officers are not allowed to force you to pay outstanding fines at road blocks.
Giving the traffic officer a hard time won’t do you any good; keep your cool, go away and pay the fine. If you think he’s in the wrong, accept the notice (it’s valuable evidence!) and write to the RTIA, explaining why you think the notice should be withdrawn. Never offer or agree to pay bribes.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
When you’re pulled over, you have the right to see the officer’s appointment certificate or identity card; if the officer refuses, he’s contravening the Criminal Procedure Act. You also have the right to be treated with respect and dignity – but that cuts both ways; that right only lasts as long as you treat the officer with the same respect and dignity.
A male traffic officer may not physically search a female and vice versa. If that happens, report it immediately at the nearest police station. The South African Constitution prohibits any search or seizure of your vehicle. Even if an officer believes you’re committing a crime, he still needs to present a search warrant before he can search your vehicle.
If you do get arrested, Judd says, your first call should be to a lawyer, then to a family member. Keep it cool – anything you say or do can be used against you in court.
TOO SCARED TO STOP?
This one’s delicate, Judd warns, but if you’re not comfortable about being pulled over, you are allowed to indicate that you want to go to a police station – but you have to follow this process to the letter:
Slow right down and turn on your hazard lights.
Extend your right arm out of the window, hand up and open, and wave it gently forwards and back to show the officers you want them to follow you to the nearest police station.
Drive at a steady 40km/h directly to the police station.
When you reach the police station, keep your engine running and your hazard lights on, and roll down your window so you can speak to the officer.
Article credit: http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/special-features/speeding-fines-know-your-rights-1.1936876#.VjB6e24XXSM