The prospect of a drivers licence suspension can cause major disruption for people, particularly those who rely on their licence for work. We find that many clients have misconceptions about how demerit points and licensing operate in NSW. All road users deserve to know the facts about traffic law, so it may help to cover some useful facts.
A healthy licence is one without any points on it. Demerit points start from zero and count upwards, so rather than a person ‘losing’ points on a licence, traffic offences can cause points to accrue. Different offences carry different point values. Learner and P1 Provisional (‘Red P’) licence holders can accrue a maximum of 4 points before facing an automatic driver licence suspension imposed by Roads and Maritime Services. P2 Provisional (‘Green P’) licences are suspended upon reaching 7 points. Unrestricted licence holders can receive a maximum of 13 points, while professional drivers (such as some bus, taxi or haulage truck drivers) can incur up to 14 points. The period of suspension for exceeding the allowable number of points starts at a minimum of 3 months and can go higher.
There is no such thing as a “work” licence in NSW – that is, if you face a suspension, you cannot ask for a licence that will still allow you to drive to work while you are suspended. However, there are other possible solutions. It is always a good idea to speak to a solicitor and get specialist legal advice tailored for your individual circumstances.
Unrestricted licence holders who reach their maximum allowable points can apply to the RMS to enter into a 12 month “good behaviour” period in order to avoid having their licence suspended. This, however, can be a double-edged sword: if you incur more than 2 points during that 12 month period, your licence can be suspended for double the time you would have initially faced.
Alternatively, you may be able to make an application to a Court to possibly have the suspension period reduced or even waived. The decision to do this rests in the discretion of the magistrate who will hear your matter, but if you have a compelling need to retain your ability to drive; it may be possible to successfully challenge your suspension in Court. It is important to act quickly and get qualified legal advice before taking this step.
Clearly, it is important for all drivers to be responsible and make the roads safe for themselves and others. But it is good to know that if you have reached or exceeded the maximum number of points for your licence, this does not have to be the end of the road for you.