Demerit points are penalty points applied against your licence for a range of driving offences. They are a punitive measure to encourage people to drive within the traffic laws. You can check your demerit points balance here.
Demerit points expire three years after they were acquired.
Clearing your demerit points
Demerit points are not deleted, but they do age. Any demerit points over 40 months old are not counted for demerit point suspensions. Therefore, as an unrestricted driver, if you accumulate 13 points within a 40-month period (or 14 points for a professional driver), you will receive a suspension. If you receive a suspension, the following options are available to you:
Good behaviour period
If you receive a notice of suspension due to accumulating too many points and you hold an unrestricted licence you can apply for a good behaviour period instead of serving the suspension. This isn’t available for provisional or learner drivers.
But if you accumulate 2 or more demerit points within the good behaviour period your licence will be suspended for double the original suspension time.
Learner drivers aren’t eligible for a good behaviour period.
Waiting it out
You can wait until the suspension lapses to get your licence back.
Appealing to the local court
If you are a learner licence holder you can appeal to a local court if you have had your licence suspended or refused under the demerit points or excessive speed schemes.
Note that if you drive while suspended there are some quite steep fines on offer, and also the possibility of a prison term if you commit a more serious crime or error of judgment.
How do you accumulate demerit points?
When you start driving you start with zero points. If you commit an offence that attracted demerit points you will receive some. The severity of the offence determines how many you will receive.
Demerit points leading to licence suspension
If you exceed the number of points allowed, then your driver licence will be suspended.
The thresholds are:
- Unrestricted licence – 13 points
- Professional drivers – 14 points
- Provisional P2 licence – 7 points
- Provisional P1 licence – 4 points
- Learner licence – 4 points
- Unrestricted licence with a good behaviour period – 2 points within the term of the good behaviour period.
Your licence could be immediately suspended for a number of more serious offences such as causing death or grievous bodily harm through negligent driving, speeding in excess of 45kph over the limit (or 30kph if you hold a learner or provisional licence), high blood alcohol content, street racing and burnouts, or driving without a supervising driver while you hold a learner licence.
For unrestricted licence holders, the period of suspension depends on the number of points accumulated:
- 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.
While many of us may have received some points for low-level speeding or other infractions, those who regularly exceed the maximum number of points are subject to bigger restrictions and penalties, including having to retake the Driver Knowledge Test before being able to drive again, and having to complete a driver education course such as a Traffic Offender Intervention Program.
Double demerit points
All holiday periods and long weekends attract double demerit points for speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, not wearing a motorbike helmet and illegal use of mobile phones. These include Easter, Christmas and Boxing Day including a period usually from around 23 December to 3 January), New Year’s Day, Anzac Day (or the gazetted public holiday if Anzac Day falls on a weekend, which means it is not defined as a long weekend), Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day.
Certain offences within school zones attract double points if the school zone is active at the time.