Understand Demerit Points and your Licence
Posted on June 16th, 2020
Most people believe that a Driver’s Licence has so many points and if we lose them by committing traffic offences our Licence is suspended. Most people also believe that there are specific periods when double Demerit Points are lost. Most people are wrong.
In Queensland, we don’t lose Demerit Points, we accrue them. We all start on zero points and the aim is to remain on zero.
If you accrue more than a certain number of Demerit Points, within a certain timeframe, then sanctions are imposed. If you are an Open Licence holder and accrue more than 12 Demerit Points in a three-year period, you face sanctions. If you hold a Provisional (P) or Learner (L) Licence you can only accrue four points in a 12-month period before facing sanctions.
Queensland Transport may send you a warning letter if you are approaching your limit, but don’t count on this. Depending on your driving behaviour, you could accrue your limit before a warning letter arrives.
Accruing too many points means you face Licence suspension. The length of the suspension depends on what type of Licence you hold, how many points you accrue and whether you elect to take a good behaviour driving period (GBL). For example, an Open Licence (O) will be suspended for between three and five months depending on how many points are accrued.
When you are facing suspension, you will usually receive a letter called a ‘Notice to Choose’. You can either take the suspension or agree to comply with a GBL for 12 months, where you will keep your Licence on condition you accrue no more than two Demerit Points in that time. If you fail to exercise the choice offered to you, your Licence will be suspended. It is therefore important that your address is always up to date with Queensland Transport. If you accrue points during the GBL, the original suspension is doubled. There may be one final opportunity to save your Licence, which we will discuss in a future Newsletter.
Queensland has year-round double Demerit Points for specific offences if repeated within a 12-month period. These include speeding more than 20km/h, mobile phone, seat belt and motorcycle helmet offences. If, in a 12-month period, you commit two offences within the same category, you will accrue Double Demerit points. You do not have to commit the same offence, just an offence in the same category. For example, you might commit two speeding offences a few weeks apart. The first accrues six and the second four demerit points. The second offence will accrue a further four points because it was a second speeding offence within 12-months. That means on the second occasion a total of eight Demerit Points accrues.
Some offences attract Licence suspension either as a discretionary or mandatory part of the penalty in addition to accruing Demerit Points. Driving without due care and attention may require an appearance before a Magistrate, who can choose to impose a Licence disqualification as a part of the penalty. Separate to the court appearance, this offence accrues three Demerit Points.
A high-speed offence (40km/h above the set speed limit) attracts a mandatory loss of Licence of six months and accrues eight Demerit Points.
Navigating the Demerit Point system, including when you will lose your Licence and when other options may be available, can be tricky. If you have any concerns, you should contact us immediately for legal advice, as often time limits apply for when you may act.
If you are worried about how many points you may have accrued, Queensland Transport offers a free Demerit Point checker online.
Do not hesitate to contact Stacey O’Gorman at Macdonald and Michel should you wish to discuss any issues relating to your driver Licence or any Demerit Points issued.
Macdonald & Michel Solicitors
07 4972 3644