How the Australian Demerit Point System Works

by The FindLaw Team

The Easter/Anzac Day long weekend will understandably see many drivers take to the roads for a holiday. However, drivers in New South Wales should be aware that this long weekend, double demerit points will be in force for anyone who violates any of the Road Rules.

What is a demerit point system?

The demerit point system is a national scheme where drivers who commit traffic offences will be given ‘demerit points’ and upon reaching a certain amount, will have penalties imposed, which may include the suspension of a licence.

Keep in mind that demerit points accumulated interstate will still be recorded against a driver’s record. So don’t think that just because you’re driving interstate this long weekend, that you’re able to break all the rules without penalty.

What are the offences that can lead to a demerit point?

Some of the offences that can lead to demerit points are:

• drink driving
• speeding
• not wearing a seatbelt
• not wearing a helmet for bike riders
• talking on a mobile phone while driving
• violating any traffic, road or safe driving rules.

Demerit points are based on a range of factors with the greater the offence, the more demerit points a person gains. For example, in Victoria if a driver exceeds the speed limit by 45km/h, may result in an 8 demerit points added to their record. For any driver in Victoria who exceeds the speed limit by 25km/h but less than 35hm/h will receive 4 demerit points. For Queenslanders, any driver caught driving 40km/h or above the speed limit will receive 8 demerit points.

In New South Wales, if a person is driving in a speed that exceeds 45km/h in a school zone, that will result in 7 demerit points added to their record. Interestingly, driving at the same excessive speed outside of a school zone will result in 6 demerit points, yet, both penalties are less than the Victorian and Queensland for committing the same offence.

How many demerit points for a penalty?

In Queensland and Victoria, a driver who receives 12 demerit points during a three year period will incur penalties, while in New South Wales it’s 13 points. Professional drivers such as those who operate taxis have 14 demerit points before sanctions are imposed in New South Wales. This is in recognition to the amount of time a professional driver spends on the road.

Anyone who accumulates enough demerit points to warrant a penalty usually has the choice to have their licence immediately suspended, or they can nominate to embark on a 12 month good behaviour period. Any demerit points accumulated during the good behaviour period will attract double the penalties imposed.

Can a conviction be recorded for a demerit point violation?

Depending on the seriousness of the violation, a criminal conviction can be recorded under the various State criminal laws. Excessive speeding and drink driving offences can attract convictions, as well as driving dangerously.

For any readers who are on the roads this Easter, drive safely. And if anyone does find themselves in trouble for a driving offence, seek legal help.


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