Every state and territory in Australia uses a system of demerit points to punish traffic violations. They are assessed in addition to fines and other penalties.
Demerit points are intended to discourage unsafe driving and to remove drivers from the road who repeatedly violate traffic safety laws.
Every driver in NSW starts with a clean slate. That is, drivers, begin with zero points. You will only have points assessed against your driving record if you are convicted of a traffic offence.
If you accumulate too many demerit points within any three year period, you face a suspension of your driving privileges. The three year period is measured from the date an offence was committed, not on the date you were convicted of the offence.
The points assessed for speeding depend upon the amount by which you exceeded the speed limit, whether the violation occurred in a school zone, and the kind of licence you have. The chart below applies to drivers of Class A vehicles (those weighing less than 4.5 tonnes):
Points for speeding offences double during most holiday periods, including long holiday weekends. The court may impose a licence suspension that is longer than a demerit point suspension if you exceed the limit by more than 30 km/h.
If a red light camera detects your failure to stop at a red light, or if an officer observes that offence, 3 points can be assessed. Most other violations involving traffic lights, including failing to stop behind the stop line and not giving way to oncoming traffic when making a right turn, also carry 3 points.
If you have an unrestricted licence that grants you full driving privileges, you will face a suspension when you accumulate 13 or more points in any three year period. The length of the suspension depends upon the number of demerit points you accumulated:
13 to 15 points 3-month suspension
16 to 19 points 4-month suspension
20 or more points 5-month suspension
Professional drivers can accumulate 14 points before facing a suspension. Professional drivers are generally those who make their living driving taxis, busses, or hired cars, as well as drivers who make their living driving vehicles that transport goods from one place to another.
If you have a P1 or a learner licence, you will face a suspension when you accumulate 4 points. Any speeding violation will, therefore, result in a demerit point suspension. If you have a P2 licence, you will face a suspension when you accumulate 7 points. All suspensions of provisional and learner licences are for three months.
If you accumulate points that trigger a suspension, Roads and Maritime Services will send you a suspension notice notifying you of the length of the suspension and the date on which it will begin. Unless your licence expired while you were suspended, you could begin to drive again on the day your suspension ends.
If you contest a traffic violation and win, you will not be assessed demerit points. If the court finds you guilty but dismisses the offence, no demerit points are recorded.
If you hold an unrestricted licence and a demerit point suspension is ordered, you can apply for a “good behaviour period.” You can only do this once, and you must apply before your suspension begins. If you make it through the 12 months good behaviour period without accumulating more demerit points, you will not be required to serve the suspension. If you receive more than one demerit point during the good behaviour period, your suspension will be doubled.