It’s bad enough copping a fine for a traffic offence, but the real sting can come in the form of demerit points, particularly if you’re at risk of losing your licence. Here’s what you need to know about demerit points.
What are demerit points?
It’s a commonly held belief that you can lose demerit points with each offence. But it’s actually the opposite. Demerit points are like a “black mark” on your record, meaning that you start with no demerit points and then incur them whenever you commit a traffic offence.
Demerit points are attributed to your licence by the South Australian Registrar of Motor Vehicles. They are incurred when you commit a traffic offence and different points apply depending on the type of offence and the seriousness of the offence. For example, in the case of speeding offences:
- Exceeding the speed limit by one to 9 kilometres per hour attracts two points.
- Exceeding the speed limit by 10 to 19 kilometres per hour attracts three points.
- Exceeding the speed limit by 20 to 29 kilometres per hour attracts five points.
- Exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 44 kilometres per hour attracts seven points.
- Exceeding the speed limit by 45 kilometres per hour or more attracts nine points.
Demerit points are applied to your licence from the date of the offence, even if there is a delay in payment of the fine or a finding of guilt. The demerit points are erased from your licence three years after an offence is committed.
Reducing demerit points
If you pay an expiation notice, the prescribed number of demerit points is applied to your licence automatically. If you elect to be prosecuted, you can apply to the Court to reduce the demerit points. The Court will determine whether there are proper grounds to do so.
An application to reduce demerit points must relate the offence itself and usually requires the Court to deem the offence as an unusual example of its kind. Any personal hardship resulting from the imposition of the demerit points is not relevant to the application and will not be considered by the Magistrate.
If, in a three-year period, a driver incurs 12 or more demerit points, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles will suspend their licence. In some circumstances, a driver may be offered a 12-month good behaviour option instead of serving the disqualification period. But if two or more demerit points are incurred during this time, the original period of disqualification will be doubled and there are no further rights of appeal. The driver must then serve the disqualification.
Provisional or Probationary Licence holders are subject to different rules and different appeal options apply. For further information, you should seek legal advice.