It can be frustrating to receive a speeding fine on South African roads, especially if you were not exceeding the speed limit. There have been reported cases of drivers being issued with incorrect speeding fines, which can be difficult to combat.
It is relatively difficult to incur a speeding fine in South Africa if you stay below or at the speed limit at all times when driving, as there is a rule stating that no drivers may be prosecuted for travelling up to 10km/h over the limit.
Justice Project South Africa chairperson Howard Dembovsky told MyBroadband that many drivers try to abuse this margin and subsequently get caught for speeding. The other thing that needs to be borne in mind is that South Africa has general speed limits, where no speed limit sign prescribing the limit need be displayed,” Dembovsky said. People forget this and fail to abide by the general speed limit, choosing instead to presume that the speed limit is more akin to the physical features of a road.”
The general speed limit is as follows:
60km/h on a road in an urban area
100km/h on a road outside of an urban area
120km/h on a freeway
These rules apply unless there is a road traffic sign which indicates that a different speed limit applies.
Contesting a fine
Dembovsky told MyBroadband that if you receive a speeding fine which you believe to be incorrect, the first thing you should realise is that a traffic fine is an allegation of wrongdoing.
“If a motorist feels that he or she has been falsely accused, then he or she can make a written representation to that effect,” he said.
“Alternatively, in the case of the Criminal Procedure Act, he or she may await the summons and then defend the matter in Court.”
In the case of infringements in terms of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act, no-one is automatically entitled to their constitutional right to a trial, but must instead elect to be tried in Court.
Dembovsky noted that this elective option is soon to be abolished by the AARTO Amendment Act, leaving the accused with no option but to make written representation.
Drivers should always check the traffic fines they receive to determine whether the licence plate and vehicle is correct, as well as the listed speed limit and the real speed limit for the road.
“However, do not simply assume that the notice is incorrect. Check your facts thoroughly,” Dembovsky said.
“Often, people discover that what they thought to be the speed limit and what the speed limit really is, are two different things.”
Better off abiding by the rules
Dembovsky said that there was no downside to contesting a speeding fine, as long as you rely on the actual traffic law to do so.
“Not really, unless of course one relies on the garbage that appears on the internet, like ‘no speed trapping may take place within 300m of a speed limit sign’ or ‘no other vehicle may be in the photograph’ or a plethora of other garbage that’s out there and readily blurted out by people who think they know ‘what the law says’,” he said.
“Relying on such garbage can land one in hot water, if it is relied on in Court and annoys the Magistrate, who subsequently slaps him or her with a bigger fine, to express the Court’s dissatisfaction with having its time wasted.”
He added that if everyone obeyed the rules of the road and speed limits, this would greatly limit the ability for authorities to rely on the income generated by speeding fines.
“If every motorist simply stuck to the speed limit, almost every traffic department and many municipalities in South Africa would go bankrupt. That is not to say that anyone is doing their civic duty by feeding these greedy entities,” he said. If motorists stopped feeding them, it may just happen that the ‘authorities’ would start doing their jobs by enforcing road traffic laws with road safety, not money, in mind.
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