Not many drivers are likely to know exactly how many demerit points apply for driving offences in NSW. But since 1997, double demerits apply during busy holiday times. You can very quickly reach the limit and have your driving licence suspended or renewal refused.
The points scheme
The demerit points scheme applies all over Australia and was introduced in 1969. It allocates penalty points or demerits for each category of driving. For example, parking, speeding, school zones, heavy vehicles and other general offences. Meanwhile, double demerit points apply during holidays for seatbelt, speeding, mobile phone and motorcycle helmet offences.
The idea of demerit points is to encourage safe and responsible driving within the law.
Each driver starts off their driving record with zero points. With each offence, the driver accumulates demerit points on their licence until a threshold within a defined 3-year period.
Some people like to call this process “losing points”. While this is not strictly true (nobody starts off with points) the final result is the same. This is refusal to renew or suspension of driving licence.
The threshold for refusal or suspension of licence within a 3-year period (measured from the first to latest offence) varies for each status of driver:
- Unrestricted licence – 13 points
- P2 licence – 7 points
- P1 licence – 4 points
- L licence – 4 points
- Professional driver – 14 points.
Drivers will be suspended if they incur 13 or more demerit points in a 3-year period.
Roads and Maritime Services will send out a Notice of Suspension or Refusal once you reach or exceed the number of points or you are caught for excessive speeding. RMS also sends a warning if too many demerits are starting to accumulate.
For unrestricted licences, the period of suspension depends on the number of demerit points:
- 13 to 15 points – 3 months
- 16 to 19 points – 4 months
- 20 or more points – 5 months.
For P and L licences, the suspension period is 3 months.
Some drivers choose a 12-month good behaviour period (not possible for P or L drivers), rather than have their licence suspended. During this period, if they accumulate 2 or more demerit points, they lose their licence for twice the original suspension time.
While demerit points do age, they emain on your driving record with the offences , as part of your driving history.
Insurers quoting for a greenslip sometimes ask for the number of demerit points on your NSW licence. This indicates your willingness to drive safely and within the rules and, to some extent, your risk of having an accident.