• Alyce Cooper

Think your demerit points expire after three years? Think again!

Alyce Cooper, our Hawkesbury-based legal expert, lays down the law…which is timely because demerit points for offences are doubled over this long weekend…

I often hear people say, “I lost my demerit points” when they have committed an offence. In fact, if you haven't committed any offences, you have zero demerit points.

If you commit an offence that carries demerit points, the points are added to your driving record.

The threshold you can reach depends on your licence type:

· Unrestricted licence: 13 points

· Provisional P1 licence: 4 points

· Provisional P2 licence: 7 points

· Unrestricted licence: 13 points

· Professional drivers: 14 points.

Once you receive a penalty notice for a driving offence that carries demerit points and pay it, the RMS is notified. The points are then added to your record. Importantly they are not added until the fine is paid or if you have missed the final payment date.

If a driving offence is heard by a Court and you are found guilty, after the Court date the RMS is notified and the points are then added to your record.

If you are found not guilty by the Court or the offence is dismissed under Section 10(1) of the Crimes Sentencing Procedure Act 1999 – in other words no conviction is recorded - no demerit points are recorded.

Most people are under the impression that demerit points stay on your record for three years to count towards a suspension – this is not correct.

Demerit points remain on your driving record irrespective of the age of the offence. But, to be calculated towards a licence suspension, the RMS includes offences up to 40 months old.

If you are charged with a driving offence that carries demerit points with it, it is critical to obtain legal advice and provide your lawyer with your current traffic record showing your demerit points, so advice can be given on the best way forward.

If you exceed your demerit points and you have an unrestricted driving licence, you can request through the RMS to serve a 12-month good behaviour period instead of the suspension. If approved, you can continue to drive but you will need to ensure you do not accumulate more than two demerit points during that the 12-month period. If you do, your licence will be suspended for double the original period!

If you accept the suspension, the good news is that your demerit points are cleared and go back to zero, once your suspension is over.

There is unfortunately no right of appeal to the Court against a licence suspension given on the grounds of demerit points. This is why legal advice for traffic offences can be worthwhile, as you may decide to go to Court for the traffic offence itself, before the points are incurred, or there may be a calculation process that can occur and be beneficial in relation to your demerit points.

You can check your demerit points balance online at Service NSW.

Alyce Cooper is the Principal Solicitor at AKC Legal. Ms Cooper specialises in traffic law, criminal law, civil law, family law, Estate Planning and Probate matters.

The contents of this article should not be construed as specific legal advice to any individual reader’s situation. If you would like legal advice tailored to your situation, please contact AKC Legal on 0401 451 322.

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