While Australians will see significant changes to how they celebrate Easter this year due to the coronavirus, double demerits still apply over the long weekend.
Across Australia millions of motorists have been urged not to breach several offences while on the road.
While some states do not implement double demerits over holiday periods, NSW, the ACT and Western Australia do in a bid to encourage safer driving habits.
Drivers are advised to commit to social-distancing measures put in place, even during the Easter long weekend, to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
When do double demerits start in NSW?
Double demerits apply across NSW from Thursday, April 9 to Monday, April 13 this Easter period.
“The demerit point system provides an incentive for drivers to improve their driving behaviour, obey road rules and comply with NSW traffic laws,” the Transport for NSW website reads.
Over the Easter weekend, motorist can cop extra demerit points for a number of offences, including:
Illegal use of mobile phones
Not wearing a seatbelt
Riding without a helmet
Double demerits have been the norm across NSW since 1997 and these periods are advertised to ensure community awareness during holiday periods.
Different license types have different limits on how many demerit points one can accumulate before your license is suspended.
The limits for license holders in NSW are:
Unrestricted licence: 13 points
Professional drivers: 14 points
Provisional P2 licence: 7 points
Provisional P1 licence: 4 points
Learner licence: 4 points
Unrestricted licence with a good behaviour period: 2 points within the term of the period
NSW Police are also cracking down on residents who break social distancing measures over the Easter long weekend.
“Those who are driving on the roads during this long weekend will need to have a good reason to do so, but like always they need to abide by the road rules,” Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott MP said in a statement.
“Double demerits will be in place and police will be on the roads making sure that the rules are being adhered to.”
The NSW Government has outlined 16 reasons a person is allowed to leave their home during the pandemic.
“Visiting family/friends over the Easter break to socialise is NOT a reasonable excuse,” NSW Police warned on Facebook.
“While we understand that Easter is traditionally a time spent with extended family and friends, these are unprecedented times.
“Unless you are providing care for a family member in another residence, stay at home. Try connecting with friends and family through other means such as over the phone or webcam.”
Police have the power to dish out fines of $1000 to individuals and fines of $5000 to businesses for breaching restrictions.
Speaking to reporters, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed officers would be combing through caravan parks and issuing warnings to people who think they might be able to “get around” the laws.
When do demerit points start in the ACT?
The Australian Capital Territory also enforces demerit points starting April 9 and finishing on April 13.
“If you commit speeding, seatbelt/helmet, mobile phone and certain other offences during the period Thursday, 9 April – Monday, 13 April, 2020 inclusive, Double Demerit Points will apply,” the ACT government warns.
“If you commit other traffic offences which have demerit points, one extra demerit point will be added.”
In addition to the double-demerit points, offenders can also be handed a fine.
“Just because there’s less traffic on the road, it’s no excuse to ignore the road rules. Speeding is still dangerous. Disobeying traffic lights is still dangerous. Pay attention and drive to the conditions,” ACT Policing, Detective Station Sergeant Marcus Boorman said on Wednesday.
The maximum amount of demerit points a driver can accumulate in the ACT before receiving a suspension is 11.
Provisional drivers will lose their licence for three months if they acquire four or more demerit points.
ACT Chief Police Officer Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson advised people to stay home this long weekend.
“I urge people to stay home! This Easter will be unlike any other. The coronavirus won’t be taking a long weekend, and neither will the virus containment strategies,” Chief Police Officer Johnson said.
“Resist the temptation to go away for your usual Easter break, or to a mate’s place for a barbecue. Don’t have the family around for Easter lunch.
“The message doesn’t change just because it’s a long weekend. Stay home. Unless you need to buy essential items from the shops, if you need medical care, if you’re working, or if you’re going outside to get some exercise."
When do double demerits start in Western Australia?
In Western Australia, double demerits will be handed out to offending motorists from the same period in NSW and the ACT – from April 9 to April 13 inclusive.
During double-demerit periods in Western Australia, a number of offences are subject to harsher penalties, to encourage safe driving during what is usually a busy period.
The offences you can cop double-demerit points for:
Drink or drug driving
Failing to wear a seatbelt and child restraint
Running a red light
Illegal use of a mobile phone while driving
Drive a motor vehicle fitted with a device designed to evade detection by a speed camera
Drive a motor vehicle in a manner to evade detection by a speed camera
On Wednesday, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced a $91 million package of measures to aid the state's emergency response to COVID-19.
This allowed police to immediately recruit an extra 150 police officers to strengthen the frontline, purchase 100 mobile intelligence cameras, and expand police tracking and tracing capabilities with the purchase of GPS tracking devices for electronic monitoring devices.
"Our WA Police have been doing an excellent job serving our state; these additional resources will ensure they can continue to meet operational demands created by the State of Emergency,” Mr McGowan said.
Western Australia has also implemented interstate-borders, which limit travel across the state.
Police along with the SES and army are patrolling the borders.
What you need to know about Queensland
Queensland is the only other state which issues double demerits, except that applies year-round for repeat offenders.
“People who repeatedly commit specific offences will receive double demerit points for the second or subsequent offence if the later offence was committed within 12 months of an earlier offence,” the Queensland government warns.
“This doesn’t just apply during holiday periods, but at any time of the year.”
No double demerits in Victoria, SA, Tasmania and NT
While Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory do not have double demerit points, the demerit-point limit is one point lower than in NSW, with drivers allowed to accumulate 11 points before receiving a suspension.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously issued a stark warning to Australians regarding the Easter long weekend, urging all Australians to stay at home.
“Failure to do so this weekend would completely undo everything we’ve achieved so far together, or potentially worse,” he said.
"We are on the right track, controlling the spread, building the capacity of our health system and buying time.”
All churches across Australia will be closed this Easter, but services may be live streamed.
Each state has the authority to enforce social distancing measures and the rules regarding if you can have people over or visit family differs from each jurisdiction.
Of course, interstate travel is not an option for the most part as some Australian states and territories have closed their borders.
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