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Disputing a traffic fine

By Danielle van Wyk

The notorious flash of the speed camera or the notification of a traffic fine in the post is enough to spoil your day, but what if the fine was wrongfully issued? Danielle Van Wyk looks at the process of disputing a traffic fine and the possible costs.

According to mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services, Alderman JP Smith there are a few ways, listed below, in which a Capetonian motorist, for example, can contest a fine.

  • The first is to send a letter, stating the reasons, to the Gallows Hill Traffic Department. This letter must be accompanied by a copy of the fine.
  • The letter can also be faxed to 086 201 2154 / 086 293 8189 or emailed to traffic.services@capetown.gov.za. This letter must be accompanied by a copy of the fine.
  • Walk-in, i.e. by handing in your letter and copy of fine in at any traffic department.

Motorists in other cities and provinces are encouraged to contact their local traffic departments for the relevant information.

“The letter will then be sent by the Traffic Representation Section and will be placed on hold. The necessary documents will be attached and then be sent to the relevant court. The letter will be presented to the Public Prosecutor at the court, who will review the fine and indicate their relevant decision,” advised Smith.

The representation is then sent back to the Representation Section to capture the relevant decision and an automated letter/SMS/email will be sent to the motorist, informing them of the decision.

Smith says that the entire process takes up to eight to ten weeks to handle.

He further advises, “If a motorist has received a summons, they should present themselves to the Public Prosecutor before the court date, should they require a reduction or to state their circumstances. The other option is for a motorist to wait for the court date stipulated on the summons and appear at the relevant court.”

On what grounds can a motorist dispute a traffic fine?

There are a number of grounds, including:

  • The person being fined was not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the transgression. In such cases, the following details need to be supplied: full name and surname, street address and proof of residence, copy of identity document or traffic register and contact number
  • Erroneously issued fines
  • Request reduction for the fine
  • Duplicate number plate
  • Request for technical information
  • The motorist disagreeing with the transgression

What are the costs involved?

When asked what the typical costs associated with a traffic fine dispute are, Smith answers, “While there is no cost associated with disputing a fine, depending on the circumstance and the fine motorists may seek legal advice or assistance and this cost could see them forking out money.”

Is there a specific timeframe in which a motorist has to dispute?

Legally they have to make representation as soon as possible. Representation can be made prior to a summons being served and the allocation of a case number. Alternatively, they can approach the Public Prosecutor directly at the court once the summons has been served.

Smith details that the Traffic Department’s Representation Section receives between 10 000 and 14 000 representations weekly.

Another key thing to remember is that if you are summonsed to appear in court in terms of Section 54 or a written notice in terms of Section 56 of the Criminal Procedure Act and you fail to comply, a warrant for your arrest may be issued.

With the 2016/2017 holiday season approaching, the traffic authorities will in all likelihood become stricter on enforcing things like speed limits, as the volume of vehicles on the roads tend to increase. With this in mind, it is always advisable to make sure you are being both safe and responsible when driving.

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