Double demerits in Australia: What you need to know – so you're not caught out

·Associate News Editor
·7-min read

The holiday periods often provide a time to wind down, relax and forget about the daily struggle.

But one thing millions of drivers across the country will want to remember is stricter laws that coincide with time off work.

Double demerits are in place in certain states and territories in a bid to encourage safer driving during holiday periods when traffic volume and risk of accidents is at its highest.

Below is an in-depth look at what double demerits means for drivers in all states and territories.

When double demerits start in NSW

NSW, the nation’s most populated state, has seven periods of double demerits across the year, which can vary depending on when public holidays fall within the week.

The first is for Australia Day, where a four-day period is in place for 2019. Easter holiday had a five day period, as did Anzac Day. The Queen’s Birthday in June had a four day period as did Labour Day in October.

The Christmas and New Year period is the largest, lasting 13 days. This year it will begin on Friday, December 20 and finish on Tuesday, January 1. Double demerit periods start at midnight on the first day until midnight of the final day.

Pictured is a NSW police officer giving directions to a driver of a silver car.
Drivers in NSW face double demerits during seven periods throughout the year. Source: Getty

“The demerit point system provides an incentive for drivers to improve their driving behaviour, obey road rules and comply with NSW traffic laws,” according to Transport for NSW.

In NSW, double demerits apply for four types of offences.

Anyone found guilty of committing speeding offences, mobile phone offences, seatbelt offences and helmet offences will receive double demerits.

For example, a driver caught not wearing a seatbelt will receive six demerit points during double demerits, twice the amount what an offender would normally receive (three).

Speeding 45km/h or more over the speed limit normally gets a driver six demerit points. During double demerits, it rises to an eye-watering 12.

While demerit points are doubled, the fine remains the same as normal. See the full list of double demerit offences, which were introduced in 1997.

The most demerit points a standard licence in NSW can incur within a three-year period before facing a suspension is 12.

Accumulating 13-15 points will incur a three month suspension, 16 to 19 a four month suspension and 20 or more a five month suspension.

Drivers on their red P-plates can incur three points before losing their licence for three months, and drivers on their green P-plates can incur six points before losing their licence for three months.

In NSW drivers given a notice of suspension can opt for a 12-month good behaviour period if their suspension hadn’t commenced.

However if a driver acquires two or more demerit points during that time, the length of disqualification on the original notice will be doubled.

A picture of a busy northern Sydney road with the CBD's skyline in the background.
Double demerits are implemented during times of busier road usage. Source: Getty

For example if a driver was initially disqualified for three months, they would then have to serve a six month suspension.

It was announced in May that low-range drink driving offences would be met with an automatic three month licence suspension, regardless of when the offence was committed.

ACT double demerits

In the ACT, the double demerit rules are largely the same as NSW.

However offences in the ACT that don’t warrant double demerit points during the holiday periods will still see drivers cop an additional demerit point.

Also the maximum amount of demerit points a driver can accumulate before receiving a suspension is 11.

Provisional drivers will lose their licence for three months if they acquire four or more demerit points.

Western Australia double demerits in force until January 5

A double demerit holiday system is also in place in Western Australia, with more offences than NSW that are eligible for double demerits.

Offences include drink or drug driving, failing to wear a seatbelt or child restraint, running a red light, the illegal use a mobile phone while driving, speeding, driving with a device designed to evade speed camera detection and driving in a manner to evade speed camera detection.

However speeding under 9km over the speed limit will not incur demerit points.

A full list of double demerit offences in WA can be found here.

There are seven holiday periods where double demerits are applied.

They are Australia Day, which in 2019 lasted four days, Labour Day, also four days, Easter, which was five days, Western Australia Day (celebrated on June 1) which was four days, the Queen’s Birthday (celebrated on either the last Monday of September or first Monday of October) which was four days.

There was no Anzac Day period this year as the public holiday fell on a Thursday.

This year’s Christmas and New Year double demerit period will last 17 days from December 20 to January 5.

In WA, drivers with a regular licence can incur 11 demerit points without facing a disqualification.

So if a driver with zero demerit points is found guilty of an evading a speed camera offence, which results in seven demerit points gained, they will lose their licence as they will have acquired 14 demerit points.

If a driver receives 12 to 15 points, they will be banned from driving for three months. If they accumulate 16 to 19 they will be banned from driving for four months and acquiring 20 or more will lead to a five month ban.

In WA drivers personally served with an Excessive Demerit Points Notice (EDPN) can opt for a 12-month good behaviour period within 21 days which would allow them to continue driving.

Again if a driver acquires two or more demerit points, the length of disqualification on the original notice will be doubled.

Queensland’s ‘all-year’ double demerits

Queensland doesn’t have a holiday double demerit system in place but has its own double demerit system for repeat offenders.

“Contrary to popular belief…Queensland does not enforce double demerit points during school holidays, in fact they are in affect all year round,” Senior Constable Aleda Day said.

Pictuted is a Queensland police officer operating a speed radar in Brisbane.
A Queensland police officer operating a speed radar in Brisbane. Source: AAP

If a driver in Queensland commits an offence from the same group of offences twice within a 12-month period, they will incur double demerits.

For example, if a person commits a speeding offence of driving at 21 km/h over the speed limit, they will be allocated four demerit points for that offence. If caught committing the same speeding offence within one year, they will then receive eight demerit points, double the amount of their first offence.

The four offence groups are seatbelt offences, mobile phone offences, helmet offences and speeding offences that breach the speed limit by 21km/h or more.

As an extra deterrent for Queensland drivers using their phones behind the wheel, motorists found guilty of the offence will face a fine of $1000 from February – more than double the previous $400.

The most demerit points Queensland drivers can accumulate on a normal licence before facing a suspension is 11 demerit points.

For provisional drivers the most is three.

Double demerits don’t apply for Victoria, Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australia

While Victoria does not have double demerit points, the demerit point limit is one point lower than NSW, with drivers allowed to accumulate 11 points before receiving a suspension.

The same limit applies for South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

A list of Victoria demerit offences, Northern Territory demerit point offences, South Australia demerit point offences and Tasmania offences can be found on their websites.

Drivers from these states and territories are warned to be wary of other state’s double demerit laws while driving interstate.

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