Big change coming for drivers using 'loophole' on Aussie roads

Thousands of foreign drivers will soon face tougher regulations.

International drivers caught flouting NSW road rules will be subjected to tougher regulations in a crackdown by the state government which will see foreigners from some countries forced to sit NSW driver’s licence tests.

Until now, a loophole enabled some drivers to retain their overseas licences after receiving 13 demerit points or being convicted of a severe road offence, but from July 1 that will change under the new state government.

The issue was first identified by the previous government which was forced to hold off due to Covid-related delays in administering driver‘s licence tests. The current government has decided to proceed with the new policy.

cars in traffic
The new change will affect thousands of drivers on NSW roads. Source: Getty

Temporary visa holders — who have lived in Australia for six months — from some countries, including India, China, Pakistan and Nepal will now sit the same knowledge and practical test as required by locals, but will not be required to log hours like the rest of us, the Daily Telegraph reported.

'Positive' change addresses previous 'loophole'

The National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) has praised the move with spokesperson Peter Khoury agreeing the change is "a positive thing". "We don't want loopholes in our demerit point system because it's about road safety," he told Yahoo News Australia.

"One of the challenges initially to changing the rules was the backlog of people wanting to do driving tests after Covid, and so they didn't want to put too much strain on the system, which made sense," he explained.

"But this government obviously has now just continued with the policy of closing that loophole and adding further safeguards to the demerit point and the licensing system in New South Wales, and that's a good thing because you can't have a situation where people are taking some and in some cases really serious risks and getting away with it."

Highway patrol police car
Overseas licence holders will face tougher regulations. Source: Getty

What does the new overseas driver policy mean?

The new policy means overseas drivers will lose their visiting driver privileges if they receive 13 demerit points, are convicted of a severe driving offence, are disqualified from driving by a court, or commit specific speeding or drug and alcohol-related driving offences, a Transport for NSW spokeswoman told

"Under the change, these licence holders will have their visiting driving privileges permanently withdrawn. If they wish to drive again in NSW, they will be required to apply for a NSW driver‘s licence," they said.

Currently, the policy will only apply in NSW as each state has its own licensing regime and demerit point system, but if the same loophole exists across other jurisdictions, "there's a possibility they will observe and if relevant, apply the same approach" Mr Khoury said.

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