We all know about the harsh penalties associated with drink driving, using your phone behind the wheel and speeding, but we don’t often hear about the other ways you could lose your licence. Along with the everyday penalties associated with these common ways to lose demerit points, there’s also a whole host of uncommon ways to lose points that you might not be aware of.
Here’s what to be aware of so you don’t lose your licence.
How many demerit points can you incur?
The number of demerit points allowed before a licence is suspended depends on the licence type. The number of demerit points allowed for the different types of licence are as follows:
- Learner licence: 4 points
- Provisional P1 licence: 4 points
- Provisional P2 licence: 7 points
- Unrestricted licence: 13 points
- Professional driver’s licence: 14 points
- Unrestricted licence with a good behaviour period: 2 points
Unusual ways to lose your licence
- In NSW, if you splash a bus passenger with mud after driving through a puddle, you can be fined $191. But splashing a passenger with water is OK, apparently.
- Don’t use your horn in a non-emergency situation or you could be fined $344 and incur 3 demerit points.
- It’s illegal to drive through an orange traffic light if it was deemed you had time to stop. In NSW, it carries the same fine as running a red light, being $457 and 3 demerit points.
- You could be fined $344 and 3 demerit points for having a “limb protrude” from the car. The same “limb protrude” ticket applies to resting your elbow on the window ledge or having your foot rest out the window.
- We all know about seatbelts. But you might not be aware that the driver will also be fined $344 and incur 3 demerit points if a passenger is unbelted. And, if two passengers are unbelted, the fine is $686 and will incur 6 demerit points. Four passengers unbelted will make it $1,449 and 6 demerit points.
- Not having your seatbelt on correctly will also result in a fine. Often women and pregnant ladies have been known to tuck the seatbelt shoulder strap under their arm or chest. The associated penalty, if caught, is a $344 fine and 3 demerit points because the seatbelt is not fitted correctly. Also, if you have ever reclined the passenger seat on a long interstate drive, the seatbelt might not be clicked in or the straps fitted correctly. This is also considered not wearing a seatbelt properly, and fines can apply.
6 easy tips to avoid losing your licence
- Educate yourself
If it’s been a while since you renewed your licence or even went for your original licence, you may not remember or be aware of the current road rules. The more knowledge you have, the better chance you’ll have at avoiding penalties. If you’re caught speeding over 30 km/h, you can be suspended for 3 months, and over 45 km/h is an automatic 6 month suspension.
The police can immediately suspend a provisional licence holder on the spot for speeding over 30km/h or 45km/h, or an unrestricted licence holder for speeding over 45km/h.
It’s a good idea to check your demerit points online regularly. The demerit point check will display any active demerit points you’ve accrued within the last three years and four months. This is to allow time for any unpaid penalties, or penalties delayed due to appeal proceedings, to be added to your driving record.
To learn more about how demerit points work, visit Check your demerit points.
- Work zone caution
This is one of the most common ways people accrue demerit points quickly. Speeding through a work zone is common because there is often a change to speed signs on regular driving routes. Often a road which is 70 km/h can drop to 40 km/h, and drivers can be slow to react to new changes. If you maintain the speed of 70 km/h, you could be suspended for 3 months.
- Watch what you say to the police
Now this may seem obvious, and there’s no excuse for ever raising your voice or becoming angry to a police officer, but you may not know that what you say could be recorded. If you are suspended, and you decide to challenge or appeal the decision in court, the police records will include a copy of what was said when you were asked about your infringement.
If you’re on record for saying things like “are you serious”, “don’t you have better thing to do”, “get a life and get the real criminals”, it won’t help your case in court.
- Speed cameras
Make notes of where speed cameras are located in your local area. While there are always warning signs to act as a deterrent, it’s easy not to notice these. Speed cameras are usually located in high-frequency crash zones, or where the location is difficult for police to monitor and enforce compliance with the road rules.
- School zones
School zones for speeding are well lit up and signed to make sure you slow down during designated hours. Most school zones operate from 8.00am to 9.30am and from 2.30pm to 4.00pm – however, there are a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW which are identified by red/orange school zone signs showing the times when the particular school zone operates. Flashing lights on the sign are also required to operate during these periods. School speed zones operate on all school days and also on school development days, known as pupil-free days, because some students may attend on those days.
Double demerit points can also apply when school zones are in operation. If you commit a speed, seatbelt or helmet offence during this combined period, the demerit points incurred will also be doubled.
- Read up on your rights
Despite your best intentions, sometimes things can go wrong with a few minor offences over a short period. Depending on your type of licence, you may be able to appeal a suspension in the Local Court, but you have to do this within 28 days.
If you’ve been charged with a traffic offence or you’ve lost your licence and need to get it back, you don’t have to face it alone. There are many traffic-related reasons that you would need legal assistance, and we’re here to advise you and help you along the way.
At Ryan & Seton Lawyers, we understand how important your licence is to your job, your family and your freedom. We will thoroughly investigate your case, help prepare you for your court appearance and argue strongly on your behalf. We know how to get the best result possible for you. Contact us today.
The above is not intended as legal advice. You should obtain legal advice in relation to your own specific circumstances.
Article by Timothy Bowring