The demerit points system involves the allocation of penalty points (demerits) for a range of driving offences. Introduced in NSW in 1969, the demerit points system is a national initiative that is currently in place in all States and the ACT.
The demerit points system is designed to encourage safe driving. Coupled with financial penalties, demerit points have proven to provide a strong incentive to drive within the law.
When a licence holder accumulates a certain number of demerit points, his or her licence will be suspended. The number of points varies for different licence types as follows:
- Full unrestricted licence holders (gold, silver or magenta) â€“ 12 demerit points in any three year period.
- Provisional P1 licence â€“ 4 points.
- Provisional P2 licence â€“ 7 points.
- Unrestricted licence with a good behaviour period â€“ 2 points during the good behaviour period (see details below).
Reaching or exceeding the demerit points limit results in licence suspension. The RTA will send a Notice of Suspension to licence holders who reach or accumulate more than the number of points detailed in the preceding section.
The period of suspension that applies depends on the number of points accumulated and/or the type of licence held.
For unrestricted gold, silver or magenta licence holders, the suspension periods are:
- 12 to 15 points: 3 months.
- 16 to 19 points: 4 months.
- 20 or more points: 5 months.
For Provisional licence holders, the automatic suspension period is three months.
Good behaviour period
Unrestricted licence holders who receive a Notice of Suspension due to the accumulation of demerit points can apply for a 12-month good behaviour period instead of serving the suspension. This option is not available to Provisional licence holders or those already serving a good behaviour period.
Drivers who accumulate two or more demerit points while serving a good behaviour period will be suspended for double the original suspension time.
Unrestricted licence holders can apply for a good behaviour period in person at a Motor Registry, but must do so before the date that the suspension is due to take effect.
Automatic licence suspensions for speeding
Automatic suspension or disqualification periods apply to drivers who commit a serious speeding offence:
- Driving more than 45km per hour above the speed limit â€“ suspension or disqualification for six months.
- Driving more than 30km per hour but not more than 45km per hour above the speed limit suspension or disqualification for three months.
- Driving more than 130km per hour but not more than 140km per hour in a 110km zone â€“ suspension or disqualification for one month (excludes drivers restricted to 100km/h or less).
These offences also carry demerit points which are added to the driver’s record. These points may contribute to another suspension period, either immediately following the speeding suspension or at another time, if drivers reach or exceed the demerit points limit.
Refusal of a licence
The RTA may refuse to renew the licence of drivers who have exceeded their demerit points limit or have committed a serious speeding offence. The periods that a licence may be refused for are the same as those that apply for suspensions.
Double demerit points
In NSW, double demerit points have been successfully introduced for speeding, seatbelt and motorcycle helmet offences during holiday periods such as long weekends, Christmas, New Year and Easter. This is due to the comparatively high number of serious accidents that occur during these times. Records show that when double demerit points are in force, road fatalities are reduced. Since double demerit points were introduced in 1997, there has been a 20% reduction in fatal crashes over the relevant holiday periods.
Other States and Territories have introduced or are considering double demerit points.