If you're planning a big drive over the summer holidays, take heed: double demerits will once again be in full force from 12am tonight (21 December). Here's what you need to know about the rules in each state and territory.
The double demerits system was implemented in a bid to encourage drivers to obey road rules during public holidays when traffic tends to be busiest. This includes the traditional Christmas holiday break between 12am, 21 December 2017 and 12am, 1 January 2018.
During these times, demerit points are doubled for a range of driving offences, including speeding, illegal use of mobile phones, not wearing a seat belt and riding without a motorcycle helmet. Other traffic offences can also incur additional penalties during this period.
Currently, the double demerit system is practised in Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Here's what each state is doing over the Christmas break, according to official police statements:
NSW Double Demerits
The demerit point system provides an incentive for drivers to improve their driving behaviour, obey road rules and comply with NSW traffic laws. The double demerit point scheme applies for the following types of offences:
- Illegal use of mobile phones
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Riding without a helmet
By law, double demerit periods must be advertised and awareness campaigns are co-ordinated with traditional enforcement and increased police numbers.
Canberra / ACT
ACT Policing is reminding motorists that double demerits will be in place this festive season from the first instance of Friday 22 December 2017 to the last instance of Monday 1 January 2018.
All speed and seatbelt offences, the use of a mobile phone while driving, driving with a passenger in or on part of the vehicle not designed for carriage of passengers or goods, and riding a motorbike without a helmet will incur double demerit points. All other offences will incur one extra demerit point.
There are a lot of people travelling at this time of year and the roads will be busy. We want everyone to arrive at their destination safely. If travelling long distances, make sure that you plan your trip and allow enough time for a rest break every 2 hours.
In Queensland, double demerit points are applied to persons who repeatedly commit specific offences that increase the road safety risk to the person themselves or other road users. Double demerit points apply all year round for these repeat offenders as a way of discouraging dangerous driving behaviours on a continuing basis.
Double demerit points are allocated for certain second or subsequent driver seatbelt offences, motorbike helmet offences and offences for speeding more than 20km/h over the speed limit, that are committed within 1 year of a previous offence. Double demerit points also apply for second or subsequent mobile phone offences that are committed by drivers within 1 year of an earlier offence.
A person does not necessarily have to commit the same type of offence a second or subsequent time to be allocated double demerit points. A second or subsequent offence only needs to be within the same offence group for the person to accumulate double demerit points.
During the Christmas/New Year period double demerit points will apply between 12.01am on Friday 22 December 2017 until 11.59pm on Sunday 7 January 2018.
During this period double demerit points will apply to the following offences:
- Seatbelt offences pertaining to drivers
- Driving with a BAC of or above 0.05
- Presence of prescribed illicit drugs, or fail to supply oral sample or blood
- Contravene a red traffic control signal
- Contravene a red traffic control arrow
- The illegal use of mobile phones.
By law, double demerits must be advertised to motorists prior to commencement. This is something to muse over if you happen to get fined and decide to contest the penalty in court. (Or you could, y'know, be a good person and drive safely.)
You may not know Sydneysider Dejan Stojadinovic's name, but we can almost guarantee he's made you laugh recently. Why? Because Dejan is the man behind those hilarious NSW Police Force Facebook posts we all love.