The scheme relating to demerit points in the NT (Northern Territory) allocates points as penalties for certain traffic offences with the aim of improving driver behaviour.
The relevant laws are in the Traffic Act and Traffic Regulations. Schedule 1 of the Regulations sets out the list of offences and the demerit points that apply to each. You can also find this information on the NT Government website.
Demerit points in the NT are added to your record:
- after you pay the fine,
- if a court finds you guilty, or
- when the Fines Recovery Unit takes action to recover the fine from you.
If you commit a demerit point (‘pointable’) offence interstate that would be a pointable offence if it happened in the NT, the number of points allocated in that state or territory are added to your record in the NT.
The points remain active for 3 years from the date of the offence, unless they have been counted against you previously in a demerit points action, such as a licence suspension or good driving behaviour period.
A suspension under the Demerit Points Scheme can’t be appealed or reviewed in any court, but if you believe an error has been made, you should contact the Motor Vehicle Registry office immediately.
- hold a full licence, and
- you accrue 12 or more demerit points within any 3 year period, or
- are a Learner or Provisional licence holder, and
- accrue 5 or more points within any 12 month period, or
- accrue 12 or more points over 3 years,
you will be sent a Notice of Suspension or Good Driving Behaviour Option.
The Notice suspends your licence or your right to drive in the NT (if you are a visiting driver), and your right to apply for or to renew a licence to drive. It cannot be appealed or reviewed in any court.
The suspension starts 28 days after the date of the Notice. Your options on receipt of the Notice are:
- simply wait for your suspension to start on the date in the notice.
- elect to undertake a 12 month Good Driving Behaviour (GDB) period (if eligible).
- elect to start your suspension immediately.
You can check the number of demerit points recorded against you on the Motor Vehicle Registry website.
If you have your licence suspended, the period for which you will be unable to drive varies depending upon the type of licence you hold and the number of points you have accrued. For licences with 12 available points, the suspension periods are:
- 3 months for 12-15 points
- 4 months for 16-19 points
- 5 months for 20 or more points.
For licences with 5 available points, the suspension periods are:
- 3 months for 5-8 points
- 4 months for 9-12 points
- 5 months for 13 or more points.
If you have exceeded your limit for demerit points in the NT, choosing the GDB option means that you can keep driving, but you can only get 1 demerit point in that 12 month period.
It is only available to you if you have a driver’s licence from the NT (even if you are currently disqualified). If you don’t have a licence but are eligible for one and receive it within 21 days, you can also choose to take the GDB option.
If you breach the option by accruing 2 or more demerit points within your 12 month GDB period, your licence will be suspended for double the period that would have applied if you hadn’t chosen the GDB option. You are not eligible for a further GDB period instead of the suspension.
If you choose the option whilst disqualified from driving for another reason, your 12 month GDB period will not start until after that disqualification period ends.
To participate in the GDB option following accrual of too many demerit points in the NT, you must contact the Motor Vehicles Registry at least 7 days before the commencement of the suspension period.
If you do not receive the Notice in sufficient time, or if you believe it is overly difficult for you to make an election within that time, you can ask for an extension. If a change of address is the reason you did not receive the Notice, your application may not be accepted, as the law requires you to advise of your change of address.
If you believe it is excessively difficult for you to lodge the Form as required, you can ask for permission to lodge it some other way. You must show how it would be unduly hard for you to do so.
If you believe there has been a mistake in the number of points on your record you can ask for a review, but it will be undertaken only if there is good reason to do so.
If the Registrar is satisfied that your case meets the criteria for:
- allowing an extension of time
- lodgement other than in person, or
- correcting your demerit points record
you will be advised in writing.
If you are unhappy with the Registrar’s decision, you can appeal to the Local Court to review the decision.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 9 May 2016. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.