Driving while suspended is a criminal offence in NSW. If you are caught driving without a licence, you could find yourself facing fines, a court-imposed disqualification or even prison.
Drivers can be suspended by accumulating too many demerit points on their licence.
If you have a demerit point disqualification in NSW, it’s important that you don’t drive at all and that you seek legal advice if you want to fight to have your licence reinstated.
How does the demerit point system work?
The demerit point scheme is administered by NSW Roads and Maritime Services.
It allocates penalties, which are known as demerit points, for certain driving offences. If you accumulate a specified number of demerit points within a three-year period, your licence will automatically be suspended.
Each set of demerit points also comes with a financial penalty, which is intended to deter drivers from committing traffic offences.
If you have an unrestricted licence, you are allowed up to 13 points within a three-year period.
This increases to 14 points for professional drivers.
Provisional licence holders are allowed seven points if they are on a P2 licence, and four points on a P1 licence. Learner drivers are only allowed four points before their licence will be suspended.
Each time you commit a driving offence you will receive notification in the mail along with a penalty notice.
Points will be added to your licence and if it reaches the maximum number of points, you will receive a notice of suspension which will specify how long your driving licence is being suspended for.
How long will I be suspended from driving?
The length of your driving licence suspension will depend on the number of points you have accumulated.
If you have 13-15 points, you will be suspended for three months, 16-19 points will lead to a four-month suspension, and 20 or more points will leave you disqualified for five months.
There is a standard three-month suspension period for provisional and learner licence holders.
If you are suspended from driving by a court for a serious driving offence, rather than through the accumulation of demerit points, you may also accumulate demerit points as a result.
If the additional demerit points accumulated put you over the threshold, you may need to add the additional demerit point suspension period on top of the court-issued suspension period.
It’s very important that you understand how long your suspension lasts for and that you don’t drive before the suspension period is over, or you could find yourself at risk of further penalties and disqualification.
Can I appeal a demerit point suspended?
If you have an unrestricted driving licence you can request to serve a 12-month good behaviour period in lieu of suspension.
You will need to apply to RMS before your suspension starts.
If you are approved, your licence won’t be suspended, but you will need to avoid accumulating more than two demerit points for the 12-month period.
If you go over the two-point threshold, your licence will be suspended for double the original period of time.
There is no right of appeal offered against a licence suspension which is given on the grounds of demerit points.
Although you can’t appeal a demerit point suspension, you may be able to apply to have the alleged offence which led to the suspension dealt with in court if you don’t believe that you were guilty or if there were mitigating circumstances which should be taken into consideration.
If you are found not guilty, you won’t receive demerit points and will be able to keep your licence.
In some cases, you may be able to have an offence be dismissed in court even if you are found guilty.
If this is the case, you won’t have any demerit points recorded against you.
If the court finds you guilty of the offence, RMS is obliged to record the demerit points against your licence and this can lead to suspension.
Are demerit points deleted after three years?
Although demerit points are no longer counted after three years, they remain on your driving record permanently.
Once three years has elapsed, they can no longer be counted towards suspension which means that to have a demerit point suspension in NSW you will need to have obtained 13 or more demerit points within the three-year period.
If you have other previous offences and demerit points which occurred more than three years previously, they won’t be counted.
What if my licence expires while I’m suspended?
If you are under a current suspension for the accumulation of demerit points and your licence has expired, you won’t be allowed to renew it until the suspension period has elapsed.
The RMS will issue you with a notice of refusal if this is the case and you will need to wait before renewing your licence.
It’s important to take demerit point disqualification seriously and don’t drive if your licence has been suspended.
If you want to challenge an alleged driving offence or find yourself facing court for driving after a demerit point disqualification, seek legal advice as soon as possible.