Learn how to manage the law around traffic fines, such as how to check if you have outstanding fines, avoiding illegal fines, appealing legal fines and reducing their amounts.
Written Fines by a Traffic Officer
You can use the following to help you avoid having to pay a fine you receive by a traffic officer:
- If a traffic officer stops you for violating the speed limit, then you have the right to view the Speed Measuring Equipment (SME) to check that you actually exceeded the speed limit.
- Note that unless otherwise stated the national speed limits are 60km/h on an urban road, 100km/h on a rural road and 120km/h on a freeway, however this can change if it is sign-posted.
When checking the Speed Measuring Equipment, ask to see:
- The appointment certificate
- A valid calibration certificate
- The operator's certificate
Check that these certificates are dated within 12 months of being issued your fine. If they are not, you do not have to pay your fine.
Fines Received in the Mail
You can use the following to help you avoid having to pay a fine you receive in the mail:
- Approach the relevant authorities to check that the camera site has the written approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
- Also ensure that the camera was checked within 7 days before the date of infraction.
- Always check that all the details on the speeding fine are correct, as incorrect details may get the fine automatically cancelled if contested.
- Speeding fines do not expire after 3 years, however you cannot be prosecuted for a traffic offence after 20 years.
Contesting Fines (JHB & Tshwane)
You can review all outstanding fines and their status on the AARTO website:
You must be served with an Infringement Notice either in person or via registered mail within 40 days of the alleged offence. If not, you can contest the fine on this basis.
If you wish to contest an AARTO notice you may do so by Law within 64 days from the date of service of the notice:
- You'll need an AARTO 08 representation form from AARTO.
- You'll need all the details required on that from, including the infringement notice number and issuing authority name.
- If you have any additional evidence, etc. you may attach it to your representation.
- All AARTO 08 representations must be signed in front of a commissioner of oaths.
- You submit this form by the methods stated on the form. You can upload it at the AARTO website. It is recommended that you use the facility on the AARTO website to submit it since this causes the status of the infringement notice to change to "representation" immediately on eNaTIS. You also get an AARTO 05c receipt to download immediately.
- By law, you must be notified of the outcome of your representation on an AARTO 09 result of representation.
- If your representation is successful, the infringement notice will be cancelled. If it is unsuccessful the RTIA may add a further R200 to the penalty if 64 days have passed since the time of infringement.
- If your representation is unsuccessful, you will be served a summons in terms of Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
- If you are found guilty in court, you must pay the fine but you will not incur a criminal record.
NOTE: When you are renewing your license disk or driver's license it is unlikely that they will block this process due to outstanding fines. However, there is a possibility that this process can be blocked if an enforcement order has been issued against you.
- You can use a service such as View Fines or Paycity to see if you have any fines.
- There is a possibility that Municipalities would not have provided this information as they are not required to do so.
- A notice of offence must be generated within 30 days; however, this does not mean that you will receive the fine in the mail within 30 days.
- If the notice is not generated within this time frame, then it is unlawful and must be withdrawn.
- You may request that the photographic proof of infringement be sent to you free of charge.
- If you do not pay your fine within the allocated timeframe, a summons may be issued.
- A summons must be served in person and not in the mail, otherwise it is not valid.
- Should you wish to contest the fine, you may do so either before or after the summons has been issued. However, if you ignore a summons a warrant of arrest will be issued against you.
- More serious offences may result in you being directly issued with a summons and not with an admission of guilt fine.
The steps to contest a fine in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act are as follows:
When you receive a traffic fine but not a court summons
- You may write to the traffic department.
- You'll need only the compounding notice number.
- If you have the compounding notice, attach a copy of it to your letter. Keep the original safe.
- You can post, fax or email your letter to the traffic department. You are not required to use registered mail if you post it, but it helps to establish a paper trail.
- The traffic department may respond to you in writing.
- If your representation is successful, the fine will either be cancelled or reduced.
- If your representation is unsuccessful, you will need to await the summons to be issued and served on you.
- By paying the admission of guilt fine on the compounding notice (prior to a summons) you will not incur a criminal record.
When you receive a summons to appear in court
- You may write to or approach the public prosecutor at the magistrate's court you are summoned to appear in.
- You'll need the original S54 summons or S56 written notice.
- If you write to him/her, attach a copy of the summons or written notice to your letter. Keep the original safe.
- You can post, fax or email your letter to the public prosecutor. You are not required to use registered mail if you post it, but it helps to establish a paper trail.
- If you write to the public prosecutor and do not deliver your letter in person, he/she may respond to you in writing.
- If your representation is successful, the summons will either be withdrawn or the fine reduced.
- If your representation is unsuccessful, you must appear in court if you do not pay the admission of guilt fine.
- If you appear in court, you are strongly advised to have an attorney represent you but be careful to obtain one who is familiar with traffic law.
NOTE: In your contesting letter or representation before the prosecutor, the things you can argue for to reduce your fine may be: Unemployment, lack of income to pay fine or if you had not been driving the car that is registered in your name.