Understanding Demerit Point Suspensions in Western Australia
Your licence can be suspended for accumulating too many points, but you may not need to serve that suspension. If you receive an infraction notice (or “ticket”) for a traffic violation, demerit points will probably be assessed against your licence. If you accumulate too many, your licence may be suspended.
This article explains how demerit points work in Western Australia and how you might be able to avoid a suspension.
When do I get demerit points?
The Department of Transport will automatically record demerit points against your licence when you are convicted of a traffic violation. One to six demerit points are attached to most driving offences. For example, causing excessive noise or smoke (hoon driving) carries 3 demerit points in addition to other penalties. Dangerous driving carries 6 points. The number of points recorded for speeding depends on how fast you were driving.
When do demerit points result in a suspension?
If you have held a driver licence for at least two years, your licence will be suspended if you accumulate at last 12 points within any three year period. Each three year period is measured from the date the offence occurred, not the date of conviction.
The accumulation of 12 to 15 points within three years results in a 3 month suspension. The suspension lasts 4 months if you accumulate 16 to 19 points. If you have 20 or more points, your licence will be suspended for 5 months.
What happens when I am suspended?
A suspension notice will be served upon you and will take effect 28 days after you receive it. Once the suspension takes effect, you cannot legally drive until the suspension ends. An extraordinary driver licence is not available when a suspension is based on demerit points.
If you are caught driving after suspension of your licence, you could face serious penalties. They include a substantial fine, cancelation of your licence and a lengthy disqualification of your driving privileges, possible impoundment of your vehicle, and even imprisonment. You should consult a lawyer if you are accused of driving while your licence is suspended.
Is there a way to drive legally after I am suspended?
Within 21 days after receiving a suspension notice, you can elect to avoid suspension by promising to engage in good driving behaviour for a period of 12 months. That election, sometimes known as “double or nothing,” carries some risk.
If you make it through the 12 months without receiving more than 1 demerit point, you will not need to serve your suspension. If you accumulate 2 or more demerit points during the 12 months, the length of your suspension doubles.
If you elect to participate in “double or nothing” and receive an infraction notice during the 12 months you are supposed to be on good driving behaviour, you should consult with a lawyer. You can only avoid the doubled suspension by avoiding conviction of an offence that carries more than 1 demerit point.