CAN’T RENEW YOUR LICENCE? HERE’S WHY (BUT OUTA INTERVENED).
OUTA has received numerous complaints from motorists who couldn’t renew their vehicle and driver’s licences due to enforcement orders issued against them for old traffic fines. It appears many motorists were never made aware of their outstanding infringement notices, as required by law. We discovered that the RTIA is converting infringement notices dating as far back as 2019 into enforcement order status. OUTA intervened, and the RTIA will lift the block – for now. Here’s what you need to do to prevent this from affecting you.
It is OUTA’s view that the conversion of old infringements by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) is taking place well outside the prescribed time periods, as is stipulated in the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act.
The enforcement orders, which are then loaded against the vehicle owners’ details in the national vehicle registry system (NaTIS), force the motorist or vehicle owner to pay these outstanding fines before their licences can be issued.
“Whether the RTIA’s failure to comply with its process is attributed to capacity constraints or dubious collection practices is uncertain,” says Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA’s Executive Director for Accountability. “Nevertheless, this cannot continue at the expense of motorists, especially in light of the Concourt judgment giving government the green light to roll out AARTO nationwide.”
Fick explained the process to be followed once a motorist is issued with a fine for a traffic offence, and we urge you to take note:
1. The infringer will be issued with an infringement notice to inform him or her of the offence. This infringement notice must contain all relevant information related to the infringement, including that the infringer must within 32 days of the notice act on it – either by paying or contesting the fine.
2. Should an infringer fail to act within 32 days, the RTIA must issue and serve a courtesy letter on the infringer. The aim of a courtesy letter is to ensure that an infringer is informed of the infringement he or she has committed and the consequences thereof. Only once an infringer has failed to act within 32 days on a courtesy letter may the RTIA issue and serve an enforcement order.
Where the RTIA has failed to issue and serve the courtesy letter timeously, the RTIA has deprived an infringer of the opportunity to comply with an infringement notice, resulting in a more serious consequence. If this is the case, it means that the RTIA has failed to follow its own process and cannot merely convert the old infringement notice to an enforcement order. “In these circumstances the enforcement order might be considered to be unlawful and invalid,” says Fick.
However, setting aside a flawed enforcement order requires time, money and resources. OUTA says an infringer should not be burdened with this when the administrative flaw is a result of the RTIA’s own conduct.
We find it very concerning that the RTIA and the AARTO system apparently cannot cope with the administrative processes as it currently stands. “How will they be able to cope with the AARTO Amendment Act that will roll the AARTO system out nationwide and where a demerit system will add even more problems to the mix?”
OUTA wrote to the RTIA and requested their urgent intervention to resolve these questionable collection practices. The RTIA advised OUTA that it is investigating the allegations from motorists, and until the conclusion of the investigation, the block on all enforcement orders issued will be lifted. This means that motorists will be able to renew their licences – for now.
We urge you to check regularly whether you have enforcement orders against your name. Go to the AARTO website here and follow the steps, especially before going for the renewal of your licences (both motor vehicle licences and driving licence cards). If there is an enforcement order issued and you do not agree with it, OUTA suggests that an application for revocation be made to remedy the situation.
Motorist and vehicle owners should heed the following facts:
- Licence renewals cannot be blocked by outstanding AARTO infringement notices (i.e. a fine that has not been converted into an enforcement order). Withholding licence renewals for this reason is not permitted by law and, should this happen to you, report it to RTIA and/or OUTA. Stand your ground if a licencing authority insists that you pay outstanding traffic fines before issuing our licence.
- Motorists cannot be arrested for outstanding traffic infringements, unless there is a warrant of arrest which must be produced to you by the official claiming to be in possession thereof.
- If the issuing authority try to prevent you from renewing their licences, you should point out that OUTA met with the RTIA on Monday 21 August 2023. The RTIA has assured us that all “enforcement order” blocks on their system will be lifted, until such time as they have completed their internal investigation into this matter.