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Part 7: Demerit points and your driver licence

7.1 Overview

If you get a fine for a traffic offence, you can also get demerit points. If you exceed the threshold number of demerit points allowed within a three year period, your licence will be suspended.

The number of demerit points you are allowed to get before your licence is suspended varies for different types of licence:

  • Full unrestricted licence – 13 demerit points or professional drivers – 14 demerit points
  • Provisional P2 licence – 7 demerit points
  • Provisional P1 licence and Learner’s Permit holders – 4 demerit points. P1 licence holders will have their licence suspended for at least three months for ANY speeding offence. An additional suspension or refusal period will apply for any serious speed offence.

Once you have reached (or gone over) the number of demerit points allowed for your licence, it will be suspended by Transport for NSW. [* see Part 7.4]

You can look at and download the complete list of offences, and their demerit points and fines, on the Transport for NSW website and click on the heading ‘Search all demerit point offences’.

Double demerit points apply for speeding, seatbelt, motorcycle helmet and mobile phone offences during all holiday periods such as long weekends, Christmas, New Year and Easter. Certain driving and parking offences will also attract an additional demerit point if committed in an operating school zone. Double demerits can also apply when school zones are operational during holiday periods. If you commit a speeding, seatbelt, motorcycle helmet or mobile phone offence during this combined period, it can easily lead to licence suspension.

7.2 Licence suspension

If you exceed your demerit point limit your licence will be suspended and you will get a notice of suspension from Transport for NSW. The length of the suspension depends on the number of demerit points you have, the type of licence you have and the offence committed. If you receive a suspension for a serious speeding offence which also results in a loss of demerit points, you may serve two consecutive suspensions. If you have a full unrestricted licence, the demerit point suspension period will be three, four or five months. If you have a provisional licence, the suspension period is automatically three months.

Once a suspension period is finished your demerits points are cleared, and you start again. If you receive demerit points on a provisional licence, but do not exceed the allowable limit, these points can carry over to your unrestricted licence when you get one.

If your licence expires or runs out during the suspension period, you must renew it before you can drive again. This is important, because Transport for NSW will not send you a renewal notice while your licence is suspended. You need to know when your licence is due for renewal and get it renewed.

Offences and demerit points stay on your driving record no matter how long ago they happened. It is only the demerit points from offences in the last three years that are taken into account to determine whether you have exceeded your demerit point threshold. You can check your offences and points in the last 40 months on the Service NSW website.

Note

Demerit point licence suspensions are different from Transport for NSW restrictions applied by Revenue NSW for not paying a fine – they are two separate things. So paying your fines may not lift your licence suspension.

For more information about driving while your licence has been suspended because of unpaid fines [* see Part 4.2].

7.3 Good behaviour period

If you have an unrestricted licence and you get a Notice of Suspension because of demerit points, you can apply to have a 12-month good behaviour period instead of the suspension. You can’t do this if you have a provisional licence.

Once you have received a Notice of Suspension letter, you can apply for a good behaviour period in person at Service NSW or online. You must do this before the date that the suspension is due to start. This date is written on the Notice of Suspension. If you get two or more demerit points while you are serving a good behaviour period, your licence will be suspended for double the original suspension time.

7.4 Appealing a licence suspension due to demerit points

If you hold a Learner or Provisional licence you may appeal to the Local Court against a decision to suspend your licence because of demerit points. You cannot appeal if you are a full unrestricted licence holder [* see Part 7.3 good behaviour period].

7.5 Police infringement notices and suspension of licence

NSW Police can issue an infringement notice and an immediate suspension of your driver licence for these ‘lower range’ Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) offences and drug driving offences:

  • Low Range PCA (first offence)
  • Novice Range PCA (first offence)
  • Special Range PCA (first offence)
  • Driving with the presence of an Illicit (first offence)

In each of these PCA offences, police can issue an immediate three-month suspension of your driver licence.

For Drive with Illicit Drug Present offences, police will issue a 24-hour licence suspension upon a positive first test. Once the second sample is analysed, if the analysis indicates that Drive with Illicit Drug Present is the appropriate offence, provided it is a first offence, police can issue you with an infringement notice. Police will notbe able to issue an immediate suspension for this offence. If there is no court election, once the fine is paid, or the time to court elect has passed, Transport for NSW will suspend your licence for three months.

Once the suspension period is over you can drive as long as your licence has not expired or is suspended for another reason. Contact Service NSW to check before you start driving again.

Dealing with the fine

Revenue NSW cannot review Police Infringement Notice fines except in exceptional circumstances such as human error. For example, NSW Police wrongly listed the passenger instead of the driver on the offence.

If you need help to pay the fine, you can set up a payment plan or work and development order if you are eligible [* see Part 5.3 and 5.4].

Appealing the suspension

If you have received an immediate police suspension, or suspension by Transport for NSW, you can appeal to the Local Court. The appeal must be lodged within 28 days of receiving a notice of the suspension.

Lodging an appeal against an immediate police suspension does notautomatically stay the suspension. You can apply for a stay, a stay will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

The Local Court can only vary or lift the suspension if satisfied there are exceptional circumstances. Get legal advice before lodging an appeal. [* see Part 9]

7.6 Licence disqualification

A court can disqualify you from driving. This is different to Transport for NSW who suspend your licence. The important difference is that if a court disqualifies you from driving, your demerit points are not cleared from your record at the end of the disqualification period.

If you are convicted in court for a traffic offence you will usually get demerit points. The court can also find you guilty but dismiss the matter. If you get disqualified and get demerit points that exceed your demerit point limit, your licence will be suspended by Transport for NSW at the end of the disqualification period. So you will lose your licence twice, firstly from the disqualification, then from the demerit points.

Note

Driving while you are suspended or disqualified has severe penalties.

7.7 Suspension of visitor driver privileges

Visiting driver privileges permit people visiting NSW from another state or overseas to drive in NSW, provided they meet certain requirements. More information about visitor driver licence requirements can be found on the Transport for NSW website.

Interstate and international drivers who default on fines may have their visitor driver privileges withdrawn. This may occur where they have two or more unpaid fines related to traffic offences.