The Demerit Points Scheme allocates penalty points or demerits for a range of driving offences. The Scheme promotes safe and responsible driving. Along with financial penalties, demerit points also provide a strong incentive to drive within the law.
The Demerit Points Scheme (the Scheme) is a national program involving the allocation of penalty points or demerit points for a range of driving offences. The New South Wales (NSW) Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Act 1998 (NSW Consolidated Act) (the Act) contains the demerit point system.
A driver who has not committed any driving offence gathers zero points under the Scheme. When an offence carrying demerit points is committed by the driver, the points are added to the licence holder’s driving record and if the number surpasses the threshold number of demerit points within a three-year period, the licence of the driver gets suspended. The threshold numbers prescribed under the Scheme are as follows:
- 13 points for unrestricted licence;
- 14 points for unrestricted licence of a professional driver;
- 7 points for provisional P2 licence;
- 4 points for provisional P1 licence;
- 4 points for learner licence; and
- 2 points for good behavior licence.
If the driver reaches or exceeds the demerit points limit, his/her licence gets suspended. When the unrestricted licence holders reach the limit, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) sends a Notice of Suspension to them. The period of suspension depends on the number of points accumulated under the Scheme. They are as follows:
- 13 to 15 points – 3 months;
- 16 to 19 points – 4 months; and
- 20 or more points – 5 months.
Under the Scheme, provisional and learner licence holders have a suspension period of 3 months.
Offences under the Scheme
Demerit points are introduced to maintain safety and security of the commuters on road. The driving offences that fall under the Demerit Points Scheme can be broadly categorised into general driving offences, speeding, seatbelt and helmet offences and general parking offences.
During long weekends and holiday periods such as Christmas or Easter, demerit points are doubled for speeding, seatbelt and motorcycle helmet offences. Moreover, double demerit points are also given for these offences when committed in a school zone.
Good Behaviour Period
If a driver has an unrestricted licence and has received a Notice of Suspension for surpassing the threshold of the demerit points, he/she can apply for a 12 month good behaviour period instead of the suspension. However, it is not possible if the driver is already serving a good behaviour period or holds a provisional licence. The driver needs to apply for a good behaviour period in person at a Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) motor registry, before the date of suspension is due to start. However, if the driver receives 2 or more demerit points, while serving a good behaviour period, the licence will be suspended for double the original suspension time.
There is no right of appeal against the suspension or refusal of an unrestricted licence on the grounds of demerit points.
How to Check Demerit Points Balance
You can check your demerit points accumulated by visiting the website of RTA. You need to create an online account to access these transactions and the offences shown are the ones which would be counted towards suspension. A copy of the driving record can also be requested for by proving your identity. However you cannot obtain details of the demerit points accumulated by other drivers.
How to Avoid Demerit Points
The best and simplest way to avoid demerit points is to drive safely and sensibly following the traffic rules. Some of the basic rules one should keep in mind while driving include:
- Won’t speed;
- Won’t drink and drive;
- Won’t use your mobile phone while driving; and
- Wear your Learner’s or Provisional’s sign with pride.
To know more about the Demerit Points Scheme, feel free to contact our team of experts at Owen Hodge Lawyers.