Demerit Point Suspensions
Victoria has a demerit point system that is designed to encourage drivers to obey the road rules. If a driver gets too many demerit points, their licence will be suspended. In Victoria, there are very limited ways that a demerit point licence suspension can be appealed. The court has no power to overturn a demerit point licence suspension due to hardship, loss of employment or family reliance. This page outlines demerit point licence suspensions and the limited ways in which they can be appealed in Victoria.
How Does The Demerit Point System Work?
All Victorian drivers start with zero demerit points. If a driver commits a driving offence, a certain number of demerit points will be attributed to their licence. The number of points depends on the offence.
The Demerit Point Scheme means that a driver can accrue demerit points for driving offences committed anywhere in Australia. The road authorities of each state notify one another of any offences committed outside of the state where the offender’s licence is held. For example, if a person commits a speeding offence in New South Wales, VicRoads will receive a notification from the Roads and Maritime Services in New South Wales. VicRoads will then attribute the points to the driver’s licence as though the offence had occurred in Victoria.
The number of demerit points that a person is allowed to accrue depends on the type of licence they have. This information is set out in the table below.
|Type of licence||Demerit point limit|
|Full licence||12 points in any 3-year period|
|Learner permit||5 points in a 12-month period or 12 points in a three-year period|
|Probationary P1 or P2 licence||5 points in a 12-month period or 12 points in a three-year period|
|Overseas licence holder where the driver is less than 22 years of age||5 points in a 12-month period or 12 points in a three-year period|
|Overseas licence holder where the driver is 22 years of age or older||12 points in a 3-year period|
It is important to note that the time period for the accrual of demerit points (12 months or three years) is based on when the traffic offences occurred and not when the matter was heard by a court.
If a person accrues more than the maximum number of demerit points, the consequences depend on whether they have an Australian licence or an international licence.
Australian Licence Suspensions
If a driver has an Australian full licence, probationary licence or learner permit and accrues the maximum number of demerit points they are allowed within a period, they will be sent a letter giving them the option to either have their licence/permit suspended (beginning 28 days after receipt of the letter), or to extend your demerit point period for 12 months. The extended demerit point period is colloquially referred to as a “good behaviour licence” or a “one point licence”.
If a driver decides to have their licence suspended, they do not need to do anything. The licence will automatically become suspended. The length of a suspension is three months, plus an extra month for each four additional demerit points that have accrued on the licence in excess of the 12 points that the driver is allowed. For example, if a driver has accrued 16 demerit points, their licence will be suspended for a total of four months.
If a driver decides to extend their demerit point period, they need to elect to do so within 28 days of receiving the letter from VicRoads. Once the 28 days elapses, there is no way of extending a demerit point period and the licence will be automatically suspended. This cannot be appealed.
When a person extends their demerit point period, they are allowed to continue driving. However, for the following 12-month period, if they have their licence suspended or commit an offence that carries demerit points, their licence will be suspended for twice as long as the original suspension period they were facing. For example, if a person’s licence was going to be suspended for four months before they chose to extend the demerit point period, committing another offence that carries demerit points will mean that it will be suspended for eight months.
International Licence Suspensions
If a person incurs too many demerit points on an international licence, they will receive a licence suspension notice from VicRoads. They will not have the option of electing to extend the demerit point period and going onto a “good behaviour licence”.
While a driver is disqualified, they are not allowed to drive on Victoria roads or get a Victorian driver licence or learner permit.
What Can I Do About A Licence Suspension?
There is no way to reduce or cancel a demerit point licence suspension while accepting guilt for a traffic offence. The court has no jurisdiction over demerit points or demerit point licence suspensions; these are solely managed by VicRoads.
Under section 46H of the Road Safety Act 1986, there are only two bases to appeal demerit points in court:
- VicRoads has recorded certain demerit points other than as required by law; or
- VicRoads has made an error in the addition of the number of demerit points incurred by you in a relevant period.
The appeal must be lodged within 28 days of a licence being suspended.
At the appeal, VicRoads and the magistrate cannot consider anything except whether the driver’s demerit points have been assigned and recorded correctly.
If a person wants to plead not guilty to an offence led to demerit points, it is important that they do so at the time they receive the infringement. Once the points have been recorded, it is very difficult to reverse this.
Automatic Licence Suspensions
Some driving offences, such as excessive speeding and drink driving, carry an automatic licence suspension. This automatic suspension cannot be appealed. These offences also add demerit points to a person’s licence. A demerit point suspension operates separately to an automatic licence suspension resulting from an individual infringement. If the demerit points added by such an infringement cause your licence to be suspended, the demerit suspension period can only be served after the automatic suspension period for the infringement.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.