The double demerit point penalty system is an extension of the demerit point system in New South Wales. The double demerit system is only applicable during long weekends or holiday periods. Drivers have to familiarise themselves with the demerit and double demerit points system and the specific traffic offences that trigger these penalties.
If you have received a double demerit points fine, you should speak to a traffic lawyer in Sydney.
The Demerit points system is a penalty point system to promote safe and responsible driving. A driver will receive demerit points if they commit certain offences. A driver can have zero demerit points if they drive safely and do not break any of the road rules.
Demerit points will be added to a driver’s record when the driver commits an offence while driving or riding. A person’s licence can be suspended if they reach the demerit point limit. Demerit points can accumulate while driving anywhere in Australia. Demerit points can still be added to a person’s licence if the person commits an offence outside of NSW.
The demerit limit is the number of demerit points a person can accumulate before their licence is suspended or renewal refused. The driver will receive a Notice of Suspension or Refusal. This notice informs the driver of the suspension of the licence or the refusal to renew the licence and includes the date when the suspension or refusal period commences.
The demerit point limit depends on the type of licence a driver has:
· Unrestricted licence – 13 points
· Professional drivers – 14 points
· Provisional P2 licence – 7 points
· Provisional P1 licence – 4 points
· Learner licence – 4 points
· Unrestricted licence during a good behaviour period – 2 points
A person cannot drive with a suspended licence. It is a criminal offence to drive with a suspended licence. The penalties are severe and can even include a prison sentence. A person with a suspended provisional P2 licence or a provisional P2 licence that has been refused will have to stay on a P2 licence for an extra six months.
Transport NSW may refuse to renew the licence of a person if they have exceeded their demerit point limit, or if they have committed a serious speeding offence. The period for a licence suspension and refusal is the same. A driver will only receive a formal refusal notice when they visit a service centre to apply for a licence or to renew a licence.
Demerit points remain active on a person’s driver’s licence for three years, starting from the date of the offence. The demerit points will not be counted as active after three years and they will not accumulate with any new demerit points earned. However, demerit points will stay on a person’s record even after the three years. If a person is a repeat offender, old demerit points may be considered by a Court to decide the severity of the penalty.
The 40-Month Rule
Offences and demerit points are recorded within four months of the date of offence. Occasionally, an offence and the demerit points may not be recorded in that period. These delays might be due to appeals or other delays. Transport NSW will not count demerit points that are more than 40 months old towards a suspension.
A person who repeatedly exceeds the demerit point limit will be penalised with increased penalties.
Unrestricted licence holders will not be able to drive again if they exceed their demerit point limit twice in five years. The driver will have to pass the Driver Knowledge Test and complete a driver education course at their own cost. The program will have to be from a Transport-approved training provider.
The double demerit penalty system was introduced by the NSW Centre for Road Safety in 1997. The double demerit periods are advertised to ensure the community is aware of the long weekend and holiday periods during which the double demerit penalties apply. The Awareness campaigns are executed in conjunction with traditional enforcement and with an increase in police presence.
The NSW Centre for Road Safety develops road safety campaigns to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads. The Road Safety Plan 2021 outlines safety priorities and supports the Road Safety Strategy 2012-2021 to reduce deaths and serious injuries on NSW roads.
The goal of the NSW Centre for Road Safety and the Safety Plan is to achieve a zero road death toll and to support the vision for a safer transport environment in NSW. The Centre, in partnership with the police, launched projects to reduce speeding and drink driving. The Local Government Road Safety Program in conjunction with the Roads and Maritime Services and local councils aims to increase the profile of road safety in NSW.
The NSW Centre for Road Safety has developed a Double Demerits Enforcement road safety campaign to encourage and enforce safer driving behaviour on the road. This campaign reminds road users about the severe consequences of breaking the road rules during the double demerit periods. The double demerit point system is also a motivation for drivers to obey the road rules, improve driving behaviour and comply with NSW traffic laws.
Traffic Offences Subject to the Double Demerit Point System
The double demerit penalty point system applies to the following road offences:
· Illegal use of a mobile phone in a vehicle
· Driver and passengers not wearing a seatbelt
· Riding a motorcycle without a helmet
Speeding contributes significantly to road fatalities in NSW. A driver will be issued with a penalty notice if their vehicle is caught by a fixed speed camera, mobile speed camera, or a Police officer. The driver will then receive a fine and a deduction of demerit points. There are different penalties for various speeding offences. A driver has to drive with caution and remain inside the approved speed limits because there are no more warning signs for Mobile Speed Cameras in NSW.
Mobile Phone Detection Cameras are active in NSW. These cameras catch drivers using their phones during a double demerit period. If a driver is caught on one of these cameras a $352 fine or $469 in a school zone and 10 double demerit points will apply for the offence.
Section 300 of the Road Rules 2014 (NSW) stipulates that a driver cannot use their mobile phone while the vehicle is moving or it the vehicle is stationary but not parked. This also includes holding a mobile phone in your hand even if it is locked and not operating.
Transport for NSW specifies that:
· A driver can only use a mobile phone to make or receive an audio call or to perform an audio-playing function if the phone is in a secure mounting in the vehicle and the driver does not physically touch the camera to operate these functions
· A phone can be used for navigation if the phone is inside a secure mounting
· A driver can only use the phone to access their digital driver’s licence if instructed to do so by a Police Officer
· A driver can only use their digital wallet function if the vehicle is parked off the road
However, these provisions are different for learners, P1 and P2 licence holders. A learner, P1, and P2 licence holder are not allowed to use a phone for audio phone calls or audio playing functions. These drivers can access their digital licence when requested or use the wallet function when necessary and the vehicle is parked off the road.
Driver and Passengers Are Not Wearing a Seatbelt
It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all the passengers in the vehicle are wearing a seatbelt. Passengers older than 16 years can also be fined if they are not wearing a seatbelt. The fine for driving and not wearing a seatbelt is $349 and 6 demerit points under the double demerit penalty system.
The speeding fine amount for traffic offences subject to double demerit points will stay the same. These fines are severe and drivers need to adhere to the road rules.
Certain driving and parking offences will also attract additional demerit points and heavy penalties if committed in an operating school zone. School speed zones operate on all school days, including school development days.
The double demerits point system can also be enforced in school zones during holiday periods. It is important to remind drivers that double demerit penalties can apply for certain offences committed in school zones, even if it is a public holiday. If the school remains operational on any of the public holidays double demerit points will apply.
A driver can lose their licence if they commit an offence in an operating school zone during a holiday period. The larger number of demerit points that would normally apply in a school zone will be doubled.
The double demerit period typically falls over busy long weekends and holiday periods. Section 4 of the Act stipulates the standard public holidays in NSW and the provisions when these holidays fall on a weekend. Double demerit points are not only limited to public holidays, but also days before and after them.
According to the Law, double demerits points automatically apply on a long weekend when a public holiday falls on a Thursday, Friday, Monday, or Tuesday. The system is applicable from midnight on the start date to midnight on the finish date. Drivers need to be aware they can receive double demerit points on days that fall after public holiday dates.
The double demerit point system will be in effect on the following public holidays:
Public holiday periods
Double demerit periods
New Year’s Day
If on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday will occur on the specified day but an additional holiday will occur on the Monday
If on a Saturday or Sunday, no public holiday will occur on that day but will occur on the Monday
On the Friday observed as Good Friday
On the day after Good Friday
On the Monday after Good Friday
The Queen’s Birthday
The public holiday will usually be on the first Monday in June
The public holiday will usually be on the first Monday in October
If on a Saturday the holiday will occur on the specified day with an additional holiday on the Monday
If on a Sunday the holiday will occur on the specific day and an additional holiday on the Tuesday
If on a Saturday the holiday will occur on the specified day with an additional holiday on the Monday
If on a Sunday the holiday will occur on the specified day and an additional holiday on the Tuesday
Additional Public Holidays
Additional public holidays might be ordered by the state government
A driver can quickly accrue several demerit points that will lead to a suspension of their licence or worse. It is important to note the difference a single demerit point can make to the total number of demerits accumulated.
Exceeding the speed limit by 10km/h or less (full licence)
Exceeding the speed limit by more than 10km/h but not more than 20km/h (full licence)
Riding a motorcycle without a helmet (rider alone)
Driver or passenger not wearing a seatbelt
Exceeding the speed limit by 10km/h or less (learner or provisional licence)
Driving using a mobile phone when not permitted (full licence)
Learner or provisional driver using a mobile phone while driving
Two or more passengers are not wearing a seatbelt
Need help challenging a traffic offence or are at risk of losing your licence? Contact us at Lyons Law Group for expert advice and assistance.