Traffic Offences in SA – a brief summary
A Brief summary with regards to Traffic Offences in South – Africa.
Traffic Offences are often confused/defined as small and meaningless offences by most road users, and therefore not much attention is paid to it. The unfortunate reality is that traffic offences constitutes a crime which is punishable by law to the extent of a payable fine, suspension of drivers’ license, and in some instances jail time (depending on the severity of the offence).
The Road Traffic Act 1996 serve as guideline by regulating public safety on our roads. As we may know, South–Africa have high numbers of road accidents and road fatalities. It is thus in our best interest and that of other road users to be clued up on the ever-burning issue of road safety and traffic offences.
What happens when you are arrested for committing a traffic offence?
Most of the regulated traffic offences result only in the payment of a fine which is payable by the offender at a local traffic department, court, bank etc. These offences do not require you to appear in court after committing them.
But if you are arrested on the scene, what does this mean for you as a road user? The answer is quite simple; it means you must appear in court before a magistrate officer. Unfortunately, the outcome of such a case can never be predicted by anyone other than the magistrate officer. This is quite serious as the chances of you having a criminal record against your name have increased rapidly due to this offence.
Remember, when you are arrested on the scene, your rights as determined by section 35 of The Constitution must be adhered to and you must be made aware of such rights. This of course includes the rights to remain silent and to have a legal representative of your choice present during the matter. Take advantage of those rights as they are critical at that stage of your life.
One can often be overwhelmed by the situation at hand, which is understandable in this case, as this is the first time you ever committed an offence which led to your immediate arrest.
The worst decision in this case would be to plead guilty to the offence and by paying it immediately as an attempt to get it off your back. Do not trust your instinct in this case; it will not reduce your chances of having a criminal record listed against your name. 5 years down the line after pleading guilty and paying off the fine, rushing out of court with the perception that the offence will disappear, you realize it was a huge mistake as you now have a criminal record against your name.
Did not think that traffic offences can constitute a crime, did you? Yes, it can and the worst part of it all is that you can only apply for the expungement/removal of the crime from your name after a period of ten years has passed. The magistrate officer is the only person that has the discretion not to have you prosecuted for the offence and to not have it put up against your name as a crime.
We can all testify of someone we know that has a criminal record against their name. The result is that your life will be impacted negatively in every way possible. It can also reduce your livelihood; and your prospects of finding a job will also be down the drain as most companies require a candidate to have a record free of any crime. If you are employed during this stage of your life, chances are you stand a chance of losing that too due to your non-compliance to road safety rules.
So, to prevent the above from occurring, what would your best choice then be?
Always obey the rules of the road and respect the safety of other road users. The reality is, we do not always obey rules and we act impulsively at times which unfortunately lands us on the wrong side of the law.
If such event ever occurs in your life, call an attorney immediately! Attorneys are your best chance at getting practical and adequate advice in relation to such a case. They will inform you if pleading guilty/or not guilty to the offence will be in your best interest, and what the consequences of such a plea entail.
Call DTL Law – We are your best chance at restoring your life, dignity, and pride.
DTL LAW – BLOEMFONTEIN
T: 051 433 1415 / 083 875 9080
Written by Gerhardt Smith – candidate legal practitioner at DTL Law