A driver who has not committed any offences has zero points. When an offence that carries demerit points is committed, the points are added to the licence holder’s driving record. If the licence holder incurs the threshold number of demerit points within a three-year period, a licence suspension or refusal is applied. The thresholds are as follows:
Unrestricted licence – 13 points.
Professional Drivers – 14 points.
Provisional P2 licence – 7 points.
Provisional P1 licence – 4 points.
Learner licence – 4 points (from 28 September 2009).
Unrestricted licence with a good behaviour period – 2 points within the term of the good behaviour period.
Suspension and refusal periods
Reaching or exceeding the demerit points limit results in licence suspension or refusal. The RTA will send a Notice of Suspension or Refusal to a licence holder who reaches or exceeds the number of points available for their type of licence, or who commits an excessive speed offence. A Notice of suspension or refusal will specify the date the licence suspension or refusal is to begin. The imposition of a licence suspension or refusal period relies on the RTA serving a Notice.
For unrestricted licence holders, the period of suspension depends on the number of points accumulated as follows:
13 to 15 points – three months.
16 to 19 points – four months.
20 or more points – five months.
For provisional and learner licence holders, the 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 or learner licence holders or those already serving a good behaviour period.
A good behaviour election must be made before the suspension begins. If the election is not made before the required date, then the suspension will be enforced. The relevant legislation does not give the RTA the discretion to reissue the suspension notice with a new date or to change a suspension to good behaviour after the suspension period has begun.
Licence holders who accumulate 2 or more demerit points while serving a good behaviour period 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.
P1 and p2 drivers do have a right to appeal. A holder of an unrestricted licence may chose not to pay the fine for the offence which would result in suspension and elect to take the matter to court. If the court dismissed the case either on the basis of a not guilty finding or under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act, no demerit points will accrue and therefore suspension will be avoided.
Licence suspension and disqualification periods for speeding
Licence holders may be disqualified or have their licence suspended for the following serious speeding offences:
Driving more than 45 km/h above the speed limit – six months.
Driving more than 30 km/h but not more than 45 km/h above the speed limit – three months.
In addition to the suspension and disqualification periods, these offences also carry demerit points which are added to the licence holder’s record. If these demerit points cause the licence holder to reach or exceed their demerit points limit, then an additional suspension or refusal period may apply under the Demerit Points Scheme.
Licence suspension for any speeding offence for a learner or a provisional P1 licence holder
Holders of a learner or a provisional licence will receive a minimum of 4 demerit points for any speeding offence. This means that both learners and provisional P1 licence holders will have their licence suspended or refused for at least three months for any speeding offence. A fine is also payable.
Demerit Point offences that are heard in court
If the court rules that a person is not guilty of a demerit point offence, it is the end of the matter. There are no fines to pay or demerit points to be recorded.
If a court finds a person guilty of the offence and convicts the person, the court usually orders a fine. In this case the offence will be recorded on the offender’s traffic record and the RMS must apply the relevant number of demerit points. If a court finds a person guilty of an offence but dismisses the offence under a section 10(1) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, the demerit points will not be recorded. This applies to court ruling made on and after 21 January 2011.