How Do Demerit Points Affect Your Driving License in Australia?

How Do Demerit Points Affect Your Driving License in Australia?

Demerit points are a significant component of road safety management in Australia. They serve as a deterrent system designed to encourage safe and responsible driving among licence holders. Understanding how demerit points affect your driving license is crucial for all drivers, from those freshly graduated from their learner licence to those with a full licence. In this first part of our blog post, we will delve into the basics of the demerit points system, exploring how demerit points work, the demerit penalty point limits, and the consequences of accumulating too many demerit points.

Understanding the Demerit Points System

In Australia, the demerit points system is a critical tool used by state and territory road authorities to promote safe driving behaviors. If you commit a driving offence, such as speeding, running a red light, or using a mobile phone while driving, you will incur demerit points. The number of demerit points accrued depends on the severity of the traffic offence. This system ensures that the punishment for traffic offences is not just a fine but also impacts the offender’s driving record, which can lead to more severe penalties, including the suspension of the driver’s licence.

How Demerit Points Work

When you commit an offence that attracts demerit points, these points are added to your driving record. In Australia, how many demerit points you can accumulate before your licence is suspended depends on the type of licence you hold. For instance, unrestricted licence holders typically have a higher demerit point limit compared to those on a provisional licence or a learner licence. Generally, full licence holders can accumulate up to 12 demerit points within a three-year period before facing a suspension of driver licence, while learner and provisional licence holders face stricter limits.

The demerit point balance is crucial for drivers to monitor. Each point has a “lifespan” of three years from the offence date, after which the demerit points expire and are removed from your record. However, as a open licecne holder, if you accumulate 12 or more demerit points within a three-year period, you will receive  a choice to enter into a good driving behaviour period or take a demerit point suspension period.

Demerit Point Limits and Licence Suspension

The demerit point limit is an essential aspect of the demerit points system. Exceeding the demerit point limit can lead to a demerit point suspension. The suspension period varies depending on how many demerit points apply or are accumulated and the licence type. For example, in Queensland accumulating more demerit points than allowed within the specified period usually results in a licence suspension ranging from three to five months , depending on the excess points.

Learner and novice drivers need to be particularly cautious, as they start with zero demerit points and are allowed fewer demerit points added on than those with a full licence. For these drivers, even one serious traffic infringement notice could result in significant penalties, including the suspension of their licence.

A person in a yellow vest and hat holding a speed meter checker

Demerit Points and Driver Education

Drivers who have incurred demerit points may also have the option to attend a driver education course or a traffic offender intervention program. These programs are designed to educate drivers about safe and responsible driving practices.. These don’t reduce the demerit points but will assist in obtaining a Special Hardship Order which e will discuss below.

Managing Demerit Points

Effectively managing your demerit points is crucial to maintaining your driving privileges. One of the key strategies is staying informed about your current demerit point balance. Many states in Australia provide online services where drivers can check their demerit point status. This transparency helps drivers adjust their driving habits before reaching a demerit point hotline or critical threshold.

For those nearing their demerit point limit, participating in a driver education course or engaging in a traffic offender intervention program can sometimes offer benefits such as providing education to avoid future breaches. Moreover, if you receive a demerit point notice, opting for a good behaviour period instead of serving a suspension can be a viable alternative. However, during this period, usually lasting 12 months, the licence will be suspended for double the period iftwo or more demerit points are accumulated.

Special Considerations for Different Licence Types

The impact of demerit points can vary significantly between different types of licence holders. For instance, provisional licence and learner licence holders are subject to more stringent demerit point limits. In some cases, accumulating as few as four demerit points for speeding offences within a year can lead to licence suspension. Full licence holders, while having a higher threshold, are not immune to the risks associated with accruing demerit points.

driver showing a police officer a driver a pass

Interstate and Overseas Licence Considerations

Drivers with an interstate licence driving in a different Australian state are still subject to the demerit points system of the state where the offence occurs. These points can then be transferred to the driver’s licence in their home state and counted against their licence. Similarly, overseas licence holders driving in Australia are not exempt from the demerit points system. They, too, must adhere to local traffic laws, and any demerit points accrued can have implications on their ability to drive within Australia.

Appealing Demerit Point Decisions

If you believe that demerit points have been wrongly added to your licence or there has been an error, you have the option to appeal. This process typically involves submitting a formal dispute through the relevant state’s road authority or contesting the decision in court. Accurate record-keeping and having all relevant documentation can aid significantly in such situations.


Navigating the demerit points system in Australia requires a proactive approach to safe and responsible driving. By understanding how demerit points are accumulated, taking advantage of educational opportunities, and staying vigilant drivers can maintain their licences and avoid suspensions. For interstate and overseas drivers, understanding the local rules is crucial to ensure that their driving privileges are preserved while driving in Australia. In all cases, the demerit points system aims to foster a culture of safety on the roads, making it essential for every driver to respect and adhere to the traffic laws.

Special Harship Orders

In most cases, where a demerit point suspension is imposed, a driver has the ability to apply to the Magistrates Court for what’s called a Special Harship Order. This is a permit that allows them to continue to drive for specific purposes, such as for work purposes. There are strict eligibility criteria for a Special Hardship Order and so it is important if you are facing a demerit point suspension to obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

This article is of a general nature and is intended for information only. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstance, please contact us at Bouchier Khan Lawyers.