Demerit Points

A driver who has not committed any offences has zero demerit points. When a driver commits an offence that carries demerit points, the points are added to their driving record. If a person incurs the threshold number of demerit points within a three-year period, a licence suspension or refusal is applied.

While demerit points only count towards a suspension for a three year period, infringements are permanently recorded in a person’s driving history.

The demerit point thresholds are as follows:

  • Unrestricted licence (Class C): 12 points.
  • Heavy vehicle licence: 12 points (but the licence holder must have held a Class C licence for 12 or 24 months (depending on the type of vehicle to be driven) before being issued with the heavy vehicle licence.
  • Public vehicle licence: 12 points (but licence holders must hold other qualifications, including a Working With Vulnerable People card).
  • Learner licence: 12 points.
  • Provisional licence: 4 points.
  • Provisional licence with Road Ready “P off” course: 8 points.
  • Probationary licence: 2 points.

Demerit points reset to zero upon upgrading from a learner licence to a provisional licence. However, demerit points do not reset to zero upon upgrading from a provisional licence to a full licence, or from a full licence to a higher class of licence.

Suspension and refusal periods

Reaching or exceeding the demerit points limit results in licence suspension or refusal. The Road Transport Authority (RTA) will send you a Notice of Suspension or Refusal. The notice will specify the date the suspension or refusal is to begin. The imposition of the suspension or refusal period relies on the RTA serving a Notice.

For unrestricted licence holders, the period of suspension depends on the number of points accumulated as follows:

  • 13-15 points: 3 months.
  • 16-19 points: 4 months.
  • 20 or more points: 5 months.

For both provisional categories of licence and for learner drivers, the suspension period is 3 months.

Can I appeal against a suspension or refusal?

There are no licence appeals as such, but you can elect not to pay the ticket for the offence that would result in a suspension and rather take the matter to court. If the court dismisses the case because you are not guilty or if the court deals with you under Section 17 of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 (a non-conviction order), you will not lose any points and therefore avoid a suspension of your licence.

Will I get demerit points if I get a Section 17 for the offence?

If you elect to have a traffic offence that carries demerit points taken to court, you may be given a Section 17.

The term “Section 17” refers to Section 17 of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005. This provision enables a court that finds you guilty of a traffic offence to discharge you without recording a conviction. Because there is no conviction, there is no criminal record and no loss of licence. If you get a Section 17, you will not get any demerit points for the offence. For many people, this means they will not face a licence suspension.

If you require legal advice or representation in a driving matter of in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal. 


In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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