Driving above the speed limit in NSW can result in speeding fines, demerit points on your driving record and sometimes suspension of your drivers licence.
The amount of the speeding fine, the number of demerit points accrued and whether a suspension applies depends on the type of drivers licence you have, where and when you are speeding and how far over the speed limit you were driving.
Demerit points are applied for traffic offences including speeding. Your drivers licence will be suspended if you exceed the threshold number of demerit points within a three year period.
Demerit points remain on your record indefinitely. However, after 40 months, the demerit points will no longer be counted for the purposes of drivers licence suspension.
The demerit point thresholds are:
- Unrestricted drivers licence: 13 points
- Provisional (P2) drivers licence: 7 points
- Provisional (P1) drivers licence: 4 points
- Learner drivers licence: 4 points
- Professional drivers licence: 14 points
- Unrestricted drivers licence with a good behaviour period: 2 points for the duration of the good behaviour period.
Speeding fines and penalties
As well as speeding fines, unrestricted drivers licence holders will accrue the following demerit points when caught speeding:
- 1 point if speeding less than 10km/hr over the limit
- 3 points if speeding more than 10km/hr but less than 20km/hr over the limit
- 4 points if speeding more than 20km/hr but less than 30km/hr over the limit
- 5 points if speeding more than 30km/hr but less than 45km/hr over the limit
- 6 points if speeding more than 45km/hr over the limit
Speeding in a school zone
Demerit points applied are doubled for speeding in operating school zones.
Learner and provisional drivers licence holders
Learner and provisional (P1) drivers licence holders will have 4 demerit points applied for any speeding offence. This means that they will have their drivers licence suspended for at least three months if caught speeding.
Demerit points are doubled for speeding offences during nominated public holiday periods.
Drivers licence suspension
If the police catch an unrestricted drivers licence holder driving at more than 45km/hr above the speed limit, they may immediately suspend their drivers licence for six months. If they catch a Learner of provisional (P1) drivers licence holder driving at more than 30km/hour above the speed limit, they may immediately suspend their licence for three months.
The Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) will serve a three month licence suspension notice to anyone caught speeding more than 30km/hr above the speed limit and a six month licence suspension notice they are recorded driving more than 45km/hr above the speed limit.
In addition to any suspension period that is applied for excessive speeding, demerit points will accrue for these offences, which may contribute to an additional suspension period.
The RMS will issue a suspension or drivers licence refusal notice to a drivers licence holder who exceeds their demerit point threshold. The suspension notice will say the date on which the suspension period begins.
If an unrestricted drivers licence holder goes over the threshold number of demerit points, their drivers licence will be suspended for:
- Three months for between 13 and 15 accrued points
- Four months for between 16 and 19 accrued points
- Five months for 20 or more accrued points
As stated above, a minimum suspension period of three months applies to learner and provisional (P1) drivers licence holders for any speeding offence.
Good behaviour period
If you have an unrestricted drivers licence and receive a notice of suspension due to exceeding the threshold of demerit points, you can apply to serve a 12-month good behaviour period instead of the suspension.
If you accrue two or more demerit points during the good behaviour period then your drivers licence will be suspended for double the suspension time you would have otherwise served.
If you would like to serve a good behaviour period, you will need to nominate your choice to RMS before your suspension period begins.
But it was another person driving my car
It is an offence to take responsibility for a speeding offence that someone else committed in your car. It is also an offence to falsely nominate another driver as the offender.
Speeding offence notices are sent to the home of the registered owner of the vehicle. If you weren’t driving at the time the offence was committed, you must lodge a statutory declaration with the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) notifying them who was driving.
You can find a copy of the declaration on the SDRO website. You do not need the person you are nominating to sign the form. Simply fill it out and have your signature witnessed by a lawyer or Justice of the Peace.
You must send the declaration to SDRO within 21 days of receiving the penalty notice. Legally it is assumed that you received the notice within 7 days after it was posted.
Challenging speeding fines or a suspension in court
Suspension of an unrestricted drivers licence due to exceeding demerit point threshold
If your unrestricted drivers licence is suspended due to the accrual of too many demerit points you do not have a right of appeal.
However, if you’re served a notice of suspension due to accrual of demerit points, you can choose not to pay your fine and instead elect to have the matter heard in the Local Court.
There are two outcomes from a court hearing in which you can keep your drivers licence:
- The court may find you not guilty of the driving offence. You will not have to pay a fine, you will not have demerit points applied and hence your drivers licence will not be suspended.
- The court may find you guilty but choose to dismiss the case under Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure Act) 1999. If this happens, your driving offence will not be recorded and you won’t have demerit points applied to your record and you will be able to keep your drivers licence.
Suspension due to excessive speeding
You have the right to have your case heard in court if your drivers licence is suspended due to excessive speeding. You must apply to the court within 28 days of receiving the suspension notice.
If you receive a notice of suspension from the RMS and choose to appeal you case in court, the court may decide to:
- Cancel your suspension
- Reduce the period of suspension
- Uphold the suspension period set by the RMS
The court will take into account:
- Your character,
- The reason you need your drivers licence, and
- Whether there is some good reason why your drivers licence should be suspended.
Examples of relevant information to provide the court are:
- Your driving history
- Why you need your drivers licence
Include a letter from your employer if you need your drivers licence for work; or
A medical certificate from a doctor if you need your drivers licence as someone’s carer
- The hardship you will suffer without your drivers licence
- The hardship someone else will suffer if you don’t have your drivers licence
- Whether you have access to public transport
- Why you believe you are of good character
Note that if you are appealing a suspension notice given by a police officer, the court will only take into account exceptional circumstances that mean you need your drivers licence.
Also, if you successfully appeal a police issued drivers licence suspension, the RMS may still apply a drivers licence suspension. However, you can appeal this in court as well. You should seek legal advice before appealing a police issued drivers licence suspension.
Appealing suspension of a learner or provisional drivers licence
If your provisional or learner drivers licence is suspended due to accrual of too many demerit points or excessive speeding, you can appeal to the Local Court. You have 28 days from receiving the notice to apply to court. See the procedure and what information the court will take into account in the section above.
Challenging a speeding fine due to a faulty speed camera
Although rare, sometimes speed cameras in Australia are faulty. The first step is to apply to the SDRO for a review of the penalty before the due date of the speeding fine.
If your application is unsuccessful you can apply to have the matter heard in court. You should seek legal advice before applying to court if you believe the speed camera was faulty.
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