What are demerit points for?
The idea of demerit points is to encourage safe and responsible driving within the law. You need to know about demerit points to help keep your green slip price low.
The Australian demerit points scheme was introduced as early as 1969, ahead of Europe and the US.
The scheme allocates penalty points or demerits for offences in five categories. These categories are parking, speeding, heavy vehicles, school zones and general offences. Penalties are higher in school zones and during holiday periods. Double demerits apply for seatbelt, speeding, mobile phone and motorcycle helmet offences during public holiday times.
Here are some common traffic offences that incur demerits, from low range to very severe:
|Drive in bus or tram lane||1|
|Park in disabled space||1|
|Make illegal left or right hand turn at intersection||2|
|Overtake when unsafe||2|
|Not stopping at traffic lights||3|
|Not giving way when required||3|
|Use mobile phone when not permitted||5|
|Drive with two or more unrestrained passengers||6|
|Travel at excess speed over 45kmh||6|
|P1 or P2 holder drives restricted vehicle||7|
|Discard fire-risky object from vehicle during fire ban||10|
TfNSW provides a full list of all offences that incur demerit points.
Some people refer to “losing points” on their licence. This is not strictly true, as everybody starts off with zero points on their licence. You then accumulate demerit points with each offence.
Drivers accumulate demerit points on their licence until they reach a limit within a 3-year period. This period is measured from the first to the latest offence. The points limit for refusal or suspension of licence within that period is usually 13 points. It depends on driver status or licence type:
- Unrestricted licence – 13 points
- Professional driver – 14 points
- P2 licence – 7 points
- P1 licence – 4 points
- L licence – 4 points.
Most drivers are suspended if they incur 13 or more demerit points in a 3-year period.
During double demerit periods, you get twice the usual number of demerits for speeding, seatbelt, motorcycle helmet and mobile phone offences. Double demerits apply from midnight of the start date to midnight on the finish date. Typically, a public holiday weekend includes Friday and Monday.
Double demerit periods for NSW each year are:
- Australia Day
- Anzac Day
- Queens Birthday
- Labour Day
- Christmas and Boxing Days
- New Years Eve.
During double demerit periods, you can very quickly lose your licence if caught committing an offence.
Transport for NSW (TfNSW) sends a Notice of Suspension or Refusal once you reach or exceed your demerit threshold. TforNSW also sends a warning letter if too many demerit points are starting to accumulate.
For unrestricted licences, the period of suspension depends on the number of demerit points:
- 13 to 15 points – 3 months suspension
- 16 to 19 points – 4 months suspension
- 20 or more points – 5 months suspension.
For P and L licences, the suspension period is 3 months no matter how many demerit points accumulate.
When faced with a Notice of Suspension or Refusal, some drivers choose the option of a 12-month good behaviour period (this is not possible for P or L drivers), rather than lose their licence. If they get 2 or more demerit points during this period however, they lose their licence for twice the original suspension time.
You have to apply online for a good behaviour period at least 2 business days before suspension begins. If later, you must visit Service NSW or motor registry with driver licence and suspension letter.
Drivers who exceed the demerit limit twice within 5 years, have to resit the Driver Knowledge Test as well.
Demerit points are part of your driving history. While demerits do age, they still remain on your driving record with the offences that incurred them.
After 3 years, the offence stays on your driving record, but the demerit points come off your cumulative total.
When you get a greenslips.com.au calculator quote, insurers ask for the number of demerit points currently on your NSW licence. This shows them your willingness to drive safely and within the rules and, to some extent, your risk of having an accident.
There can be a big difference in price for a driver with demerits compared to a driver without demerits. Some vehicle owners can save a full $300 on their greenslip or CTP premiums if they do not have any demerit points on their licence.