Demerit points are a system used across Australia with the general goal to discourage drivers and riders from breaking road rules. While all states use the demerit point system, NSW is one of the few that implements regular double demerit periods. Like many road laws, the number of demerit points for the same or similar offence can differ between states.
But did you know that if you commit an offence outside of NSW, the number of demerit points the offence attracts in NSW can still be applied to your licence? So, whether you reside in NSW or any other state, it’s important to know how demerit points work.
What are demerit points?
Put simply, demerit points are penalty points given to drivers who are caught doing the wrong thing on the road. It is the opposite of a ‘well done’ sticker given out in school that students collect in order to get a bigger achievement certificate.
Licence demerit points are penalty points that drivers or riders can receive if they break road rules, such as speeding or not wearing a seatbelt. All drivers start with zero demerit points, and with each offence, the demerit points accrue until the limit is reached. A licence suspension or licence refusal can be the penalty for going over your demerit point limit.
As the demerit point system is a national program that encourages safe and responsible driving, demerit points can be accrued across different states. This means that using a mobile phone while driving or speeding can attract the same number of demerit points even if you are driving outside of the state you reside in.
What are the demerit point limits for each licence type?
The demerit limit is the number of demerit points you can reach before your licence is suspended or your licence renewal is refused. The demerit limit is different for different licence types in NSW. Each are listed below:
- Unrestricted licence – 13 points
- Professional drivers* – 14 points
- Provisional P2 licence – 7 points
- Provisional P1 licence – 4 points
- Learner licence – 4 points
- Unrestricted licence during a good behaviour period – 2 points
It is important to note that offences can attract a penalty of several demerit points such that one offence does not equal to one demerit point.
Do demerit points go on a permanent record?
Yes. While demerit points stay active on your licence for a three-year period and become inactive after this period, some drivers may not know that there is actually a permanent record of your demerit points even if they are not active i.e. not within the past three years.
While demerit points older than three years are not active, a permanent driving record means that old or inactive demerit points that appear on your driving record can be taken into consideration by a court when deciding a penalty if you end up going to court for a driving offence.
How long do demerit points last in NSW?
As mentioned, demerit points stay active on your licence for a three-year period, starting from the date of the offence. After this period, demerit points ‘refresh’ and will not be counted as active on your licence. They will not accumulate with any new demerit points you get but will stay on your permanent driving record.
Transport for NSW (TfNSW) will not count demerit points that are more than 40 months (3 years and 4 months) towards a licence suspension.
Demerit points by traffic offence
Below are some of the penalties a driver can receive for various offences, including speeding offences, illegal mobile use offences and the like. In most cases, Learner and Provisional Licenced Drivers face higher demerit point penalties than Unrestricted Licence Drivers in NSW.
Unrestricted Class A Licence Offences
- Exceed speed 10 km/h and under; $128 fine; 1 demerit point
- Exceed speed 10 km/h and under in a school zone; $211 fine; 2 demerit points
- Exceed speed over 10 km/h; $295 fine; 3 demerit points
- Driving unrestrained or with passengers unrestrained; $362 fine; 3 demerit points
- Not giving particulars to; other driver, injured person, owner of damaged property or police in the event of a crash; $362 fine; 3 demerit points
- Drive using a mobile phone when not permitted; $362 fine; 5 demerit points
- Not giving way at lights to; pedestrians on road, other vehicles (left turn), other pedestrians (left turn), oncoming vehicles (right turn); $362 fine; 3 demerit points
- Ride a motorcycle with no helmet or with one unhelmeted passenger; $362 fine; 3 demerit points
Class B and Class C Vehicles Offences
- Long vehicle not keeping the required distance from other long vehicles; $1,393 fine; 4 demerit points
- Not keeping left of centre on a two-way road; $1393 fine; 4 demerit points
- Drive on/over continuous white edge line; $1393 fine; 4 demerit points
- Drive during a period of darkness without prescribed lights; $1393 fine; 4 demerit points
Provisional (P1 or P2) & Learner Licence Offences
- Exceed speed 10 km/h and under; $128 fine; 4 demerit points
- Exceed speed 10 km/h and under in a school zone; $211 fine; 5 demerit points
- Exceed speed over 10 km/h; $295 fine; 4 demerit points
- Learner or Provisional driver uses mobile phone while driving; $362 fine, 5 demerit points
Double Demerit Periods
Double demerit road safety campaigns encourage safe behaviour on the roads, by doubling the consequences for breaking road rules during public holidays or high-risk periods that see an increased number of people take to the roads.
When do double demerit point schemes apply?
Double demerit periods are enforced during NSW public holiday periods, along with increased police enforcement on roads.
What offences do double demerits apply to?
Double demerits can apply to offences that involve:
- Using a mobile phone illegally
- Driving or riding without a seatbelt or helmet, respectively
Do double demerits apply in school zones?
Penalties for exceeding the demerit limit in NSW
As mentioned, the penalties for exceeding your demerit limit can be licence suspension or licence refusal.
If you reach or exceed your demerit point limit within a three-year period, your licence can be suspended. TfNSW will send you a Notice of Suspension, which will specify the date the suspension begins.
For most licence holders, the period of suspension can be three to six months.
- If you have a provisional P2 licence and you receive a suspension or refusal notice, you must stay on your P2 licence for an extra 6 months.5
TfNSW may refuse to renew your licence if you exceed your demerit point limit. You will only receive a formal refusal notice when you attend a service centre and apply for a licence or try to renew your licence. The period a licence may be refused is the same as for a licence suspension.
What can I do if my licence has been suspended or my licence renewal is refused?
Depending on the conditions surrounding your suspension or licence renewal refusal, you may be eligible to lodge an appeal or apply for a good behaviour period.
Whether you receive a letter of suspension from Transport for NSW or from the police, the notice will inform you of the suspension start date and the day you can begin driving again.
Appealing a notice of suspension from TfNSW
Those who have received a letter from TfNSW about a driver licence or vehicle registration decision, will usually be informed of whether they have the right to appeal. If the letter states that an appeal is possible, you can make an appeal by visiting any local court registry and lodging your application notice or by submitting your appeal online. 6, 7
In both cases, your suspension will be paused, and you will be allowed to continue driving until your appeal court date.
All appeals must be filed within 28 days of receiving your letter of suspension notice. You can appeal the suspension up until one day before the day your licence will be suspended.
Applying for a Good Behaviour Period
Drivers who hold an unrestricted NSW Driver’s Licence and who have received a letter from TfNSW regarding a suspension due to excessive demerit points may be eligible to apply for a good behaviour period. 8
Applications for a good behaviour period can be made at a Service Centre or Motor Registry, or, if your notice states you are eligible, online, given that there are a minimum of two business days left before the suspension start date.
If you are visiting a centre in person, you will be required to bring your NSW Driver’s Licence and details, as well as your notice of suspension.
The good behaviour bond period lasts for a duration of 12 months, and, once applied for, cannot be withdrawn. Once a suspension period has begun, you will no longer be able to apply for a good behaviour period.
Applicants may also be required to pass a Driver Knowledge Test prior to the bond’s approval. If the former is a requirement, your licence will be suspended until the test is passed.
Note that accumulating two or more demerit points while serving a good behaviour period will result in a secondary and final suspension lasting double the length of the original suspension period.
How to check demerit points in NSW
You can check your demerit point balance by visiting a Service NSW Centre or by logging in to your MyServiceNSW Account online. See below for detailed steps on how to check your demerit points in NSW.
Checking your demerit points online
Visit https://driving-record.service.nsw.gov.au/ and log in to your MyServiceNSW Account.
If you do not have an account or you have not previously linked your Driver’s Licence, you will need to have your NSW Driver’s Licence details or your registered vehicle’s plate number.
Read and accept the Terms and Conditions stated on the website.
Review your demerit point balance.
Here you will find a record of all offences with active demerit points recorded in the last 3 years and 4 months.
Do you need to use this information in a legal proceeding?
If you require a driving record that includes information about your driving history and demerit points, you will need to purchase an uncertified or certified record. Each can be used for different cases, with only the certified record being accepted for use in legal proceedings. You can purchase these by clicking the ‘View your driving record’ button when logging in to check your demerit point balance.
Checking your demerit points in person
Alternatively, if you need assistance or do not have a MyServiceNSW account, you can attend your local Service NSW Centre with your licence and identification details and proceed from there. 9
Book a driver education course with Road Sense Australia
Whether you just got booked for a speeding offence or are on the verge of a licence suspension, booking our Traffic Offender Intervention Program (TOIP) could help you. Our program consists of ten modules that you can complete Face-to-Face, over Zoom in a Virtual Classroom or Self-Paced Online. TOIP is an accredited community-based program designed to help participants understand road safety and ultimately become safer drivers. Our TOIP delivers the skills and necessary information to help shape positive perspectives, helping our participants develop into more responsible, and safer road users.
Read more about how our TOIP can help you drive safely again or check out some reviews of the program HERE.
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*A professional driver is someone who is paid to drive for over 20 hours a week such as a motor vehicle driver who transports goods, or a bus, taxi or hire car driver who is authorised to drive under the Passenger Transport Act 1990.