This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Demerit Point Suspensions


The demerit point system is designed to encourage you to obey the road rules. If you get too many demerit points, your licence may 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 section will outline what you need to know about demerit point licence suspensions and the limited ways in which they can be appealed.

How Does The Demerit Point System Work?

Contrary to popular belief, all drivers start with zero demerit points. If you commit a particular driving offence, a certain number of demerit points will be attributed to your licence. The number of points you get will depend on the offence.

The Demerit Point Scheme means that you can get demerit points for driving offences committed anywhere in Australia. Each road authority in each state should notify one another of any offences committed outside of the state of the originating licence. For example, if you commit a speeding offence in New South Wales, VicRoads will receive a notification from the Roads and Maritime Services in New South Wales about the offence. VicRoads will then attribute the points to your licence as though the offence had been committed in Victoria.

The number of demerit points you are allowed to accumulate before you get a licence suspension depends on what type of licence you have:

Type of licence Details of demerit point limits
Full licence
  • 12 points in any 3-year period
Learner permit only
  • 5 points in any 12-month period; or
  • 12 points in any 3-year period
Probationary P1 or P2 licence
  • 5 points in any 12-month period; or
  • 12 points in any 3-year period
Overseas licence holder where the driver is less than 22 years of age
  • 5 points in any 12-month period; or
  • 12 points in any 3-year period
Overseas licence holder where the driver is 22 years of age or older
  • 12 points in any 3-year period

It is important to note that the time period for the accrual of demerit points (12 months or 3 years) is based on when the traffic offences were committed as opposed to, for example, when a traffic offence was heard in court.

If you accrue too many demerit points, the consequences depend on whether you have a Victorian licence or an International licence.

Full Licence suspensions

If you have a Victorian full driver’s licence, probationary licence or learner permit, you will be sent a letter giving you the option to either have your licence/permit suspended 28 days after receipt of the letter, or allowing you 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 you decide to have your licence suspended, you do not need to do anything. Your licence will automatically become suspended within 28 days. The length of the suspension is 3 months, plus an extra month for each 4 additional demerit points on your licence in excess of the 12 points that you are allowed. For example, if you have accrued 16 demerit points, your licence will be suspended for a total of 4 months.

If you decide to extend your demerit point period and go onto a “good behaviour licence”, you 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 your demerit point period and your licence will be automatically suspended. This decision cannot be appealed.

If you incur any additional demerit points when you are on the “good behaviour licence”, your licence will be suspended for twice as long as the original suspension. This means that if your licence was going to be suspended for 4 months before you chose to extend the demerit point period and go onto the “good behaviour licence”, it will be now be suspended for 8 months.

International Licence Suspensions

If you incur too many demerit points on an international licence, you will receive a licence suspension notice from VicRoads. You will not have the option of electing to extend the demerit point period and going onto a “good behaviour licence”.

While you are disqualified, you 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?

Unfortunately, there is no way to reduce or cancel a demerit point licence suspension while accepting guilt for committing the 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:

  1. VicRoads has recorded certain demerit points other than as required by law; or
  2. 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 your licence being suspended.

At the appeal, VicRoads and the magistrate cannot consider anything except whether your demerit points have been appointed and recorded against your licence correctly. They cannot consider any submissions made about why you need your licence, the hardship it will cause you or the reason you accrued the points in the first place.

If you want to challenge your liability for an infringement that led to you incurring the demerit points, it is important that you do so at the time you receive that specific infringement. Once the points have already been recorded against you, it is very difficult to challenge them.

Automatic Licence Suspensions

Some driving offences, such as excessive speed and drink driving, carry an automatic licence suspension of at least one month. This automatic suspension cannot be appealed. Such offences will also add demerit points to your record. 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.

WHERE TO NEXT?

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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