What Happens if I Do Not Pay my Speed Camera Ticket/Fine?
Speeding fines are a fairly normal, albeit somewhat annoying part of life. Most drivers have been in a rush to get somewhere only to see the telltale flash of a camera and realised that a fine is on its way. Sometimes, however, a motorist might believe that they have been unfairly fined, they may believe that they’re innocent or that the fine incurred is too steep for the infringement committed. Some people may even refuse to pay the fine at all. What Happens if I Do Not Pay my Speed Camera Ticket/Fine?
Nobody should be arrested for outstanding fines alone. (I say ‘should’ because sometimes the authorities figures aren’t 100% sure about the rules themselves).
However, you may have heard stories of motorists being flagged at roadblocks before being carted off to jail. Can this actually happen? Well, technically yes, but it’s not just because they haven’t paid their speeding fines.
These kinds of arrest warrants are only issued when the individual in question has been summoned to court but has not shown up at the allocated time. This is an important distinction because the person is not being arrested for not paying a fine but is actually being arrested because they did not show up to court when told to.
When will you be Summoned to Court for Speeding Fines?
The process whereby speeding tickets evolve into court summons goes like this –
Infringement Notice – This is the letter most motorists are aware of, it details the infringement that you have been accused of and has an attached fine. If you’re caught by a traffic officer you will receive it immediately, if however, you are flashed by an automatic camera, this notice will usually arrive in the mail. If you choose to pay the fine during this period you will usually be given a 50% discount.
Courtesy Letter – If you have not paid the fine within 32 days you will be sent a courtesy letter reminding you that you must either pay the fine or show up in court to plead your case.
Enforcement Letter – After another 32 days have passed, you will receive an enforcement letter again requesting that you pay the fine. At this point the individual will have certain traffic-related activities, such as the ability to renew licenses, suspended. Additionally, citizens living within areas that practice the new demerit system will, at this point in the process, have their points demerited.
Warrant of Execution – If the fine is still not paid after yet another 32 days, the relevant traffic authorities will be giving permission to tow your vehicle and deface your license. It is normally at around this point that the court will issue a warrant for your arrest, although once again, this arrest is not due to a failure to pay a fine but rather due to the fact that you did not show up to court. These arrests are not carried out by officers barging in through your front door but are instead, normally carried out when you are identified at road blocks.
What’s the Difference? – What Happens if I Do Not Pay my Speed Camera Ticket/Fine?
So that’s basically the same thing as being arrested for outstanding speeding tickets, right? If you don’t pay your speeding fines, you’ll receive a summons and if you don’t go to court, you get arrested.
Well, not really, you see, not all courts follow up on tickets and summons. This is NOT to say that you won’t be caught and you should NEVER act under the assumption that you’ll get away scot-free, if you ignore the problem, however, the National Prosecuting Agency (NPA) has stated that traffic fines that have not been followed up by court summons will be cancelled after 18 months.
Additionally, if a court summons has been issued but no arrest has been made after 2 years, it will also be cancelled.
Obviously, if all infringements were followed up and prosecuted, the NPA would not be concerned with backlog issues. You can start to see why some people just try to avoid the repercussions for as long as possible and hope that they are forgotten.
It is important to note though, that different systems are in place for those living within AARTO Act zones.
What is AARTO? – What Happens if I Do Not Pay my Speed Camera Ticket/Fine?
AARTO is the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences. Only certain parts of the country are under AARTO jurisdiction and as such only these areas need to adhere to those specific rules. For example, AARTO areas have not said that their fines will expire after a certain time period.
Additionally, these areas are also subjected to the aforementioned demerit system when individuals are found guilty of traffic infringements.
On the other hand, there is no provision for a warrant of arrest within the AARTO system in this regard, as such, these citizens shouldn’t have to worry about being arrested even when they don’t pay their speeding fines.
Can you be Arrested for Speeding?
Yes, speeding only results in fines when the speed limit is exceeded by a reasonable amount. If however, you are caught travelling at excessive speeds, you may be arrested and charged with a criminal offence.
Arrests for speeding occur when –
- You are caught traveling at 30kms or more on a public road in an urban area
- You are caught traveling at 40kms or more on a public road outside an urban area or on a freeway
Do Warning Signs have to be Put Up before Speeding Cameras?
There is a widespread belief that citizens can only be fined for speeding if warning signs have been placed alongside the road to notify them that they are being monitored, however, this is not always the case.
Some cameras do require warning signs to be erected near their location, while others do not. Most commonly, handheld cameras can be used without any forewarning being given to motorists.
Can you Speed during an Emergency? – What Happens if I Do Not Pay my Speed Camera Ticket/Fine?
What happens if grandma is having a heart attack and you need to get her to the hospital as quickly as possible? Will you still be charged for speeding?
In most cases, traffic officers will take into consideration any relevant information when a speeding fine is contested. So long as you provide adequate proof, you should be able to get a ticket waived if your speeding was due to an emergency.
What Happens if Someone was Borrowing your Car?
When issuing speeding fines digitally or by mail, the relevant traffic authorities will usually send the fine to the owner of the car rather than trying to find out who exactly was driving.
This can be challenged though, and by contacting the authority that sent your fine you can have it redirected to the driver who committed the violation if you have proof that they were driving at the time.
How Far Apart must Speed Cameras be?
Another assumption about speed cameras is that they cannot be placed one after another or that there is a minimum distance that they must be placed from each other. Obviously this gives some motorists the idea that once they crawl past one camera they’re essentially home free and can speed up once again.
This is false, speed cameras can be set at any distance from each other so just because you made it past one without getting flashed it does not mean that you’re in the clear.
In Conclusion – What happens if I Don’t Pay my Speeding Fine and When can Fines be Disputed?
If you receive a speeding fine and choose not to pay it or contest it within 32 days, you will usually receive a courtesy letter reminding you to either pay up or appear in court to challenge the ticket.
If you still haven’t paid in 32 days you will receive an enforcement letter again informing you to pay the fine, at this stage you will not be able to renew your license and demerit points will take effect if you live in an AARTO area.
Once again you’ll have 32 days to pay the fine or show up to court, if you do not take either action, a warrant of execution will be issued which gives the relevant authorities the ability to tow your vehicle and deface your license.
At this point an arrest warrant may be issued for you, though it’s important to remember that this warrant is issued due to the fact that you did not show up to court when summoned and not because you did not pay a fine.
Many people still avoid paying their fines as this process is not also followed up on. For example, if a fine is issued and no court summons is forthcoming, the fine is cancelled 18 months after it was issued. Additionally, if a court summons is sent but no arrest is made after 2 years, the arrest warrant is also cancelled.
Fines can be disputed in certain scenarios, for example, if you were in an emergency situation or if you were not driving the car when the fine was issued you can contact the relevant authorities to have the fine waived or redirected.
Disclaimer LAW101: All of our posts are for research purposes only. Law 101 aims to assist its readers with useful information on the laws of our country that can guide you to make decisions in line with the South African Governmental Laws currently in place. Although in many instances, our posts cite the constitution, they are intended to assist readers who are looking to expand their knowledge of the law. Should you require specific legal advice we advise you to get in touch with a qualified legal expert.
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