Offences and penalties
The Police regularly patrol the roads to deter and detect dangerous driving. There are heavy penalties, including fines and on-the-spot licence suspensions, for drivers who are breaking the law. This section lists the basic fines and penalties but heavier fines are imposed for more serious offences. Licence demerit points also apply to NSW licence holders.
Increased traffic offender penalties
From 1 February 2015, the following increased penalties will come into effect for drivers who repeatedly exceed their demerit point limit.
Unrestricted licence holders who exceed their demerit points twice within five years will be required to:
- Pass the Driver Knowledge Test before returning to driving and complete a driver education course such as the Traffic Offender Intervention Program (at the offender’s cost).
- The driver education course must be delivered by one of the approved providers in NSW:
Provisional licence holders who twice exceed their demerit point limit will be required to:
- Pass the Driver Knowledge Test before returning to driving.
Drivers convicted of two drink driving offences in a five year period will be required to:
- Pass a Driver Knowledge Test before returning to driving.
For more information about the increase in traffic offender penalties see the Increased traffic offender penalties fact sheet.
Police may immediately suspend and confiscate your licence for the following offences:
- A serious driving offence causing death or grievous bodily harm
- Speeding in excess of 45 km/h over the speed limit
- Middle or high range prescribed concentration of alcohol or committing other serious alcohol-related offences
- A street racing offence
- An aggravated burnout offence. The definition of an aggravated burnout includes a hoon driver's mates who willingly participate in, urge others to participate in, photograph or film to promote or organise hoon activity
- Speeding in excess of 30km/h over the speed limit whilst the holder of a learner or provisional licence
- Driving unaccompanied by a supervising driver whilst the holder of a learner licence.
Police can suspend and confiscate a licence either on the spot or within 48 hours of a person being charged or issued a penalty notice for a relevant offence. This means that you may have to arrange for your vehicle to be collected by someone else.
Where a person is charged by Police with one of the offences, the suspension will remain until the offence is heard by a court. If you are convicted and disqualified by the court, the court may take into account the period you have served under suspension when imposing the disqualification period.
If you are issued a penalty notice for speeding in excess of 45 km/h over the limit, the suspension will apply for a period of six months.
If you are issued a penalty notice for speeding in excess of 30km/h but not more than 45km/h over the limit as the holder of a learner or provisional licence, or a learner driver driving unaccompanied by a supervising driver, the suspension will apply for a period of three months.
Camera-detected excessive speed offences are not included in the immediate licence suspension scheme. Roads and Maritime Services may apply a suspension following payment of the penalty notice.
Demerit points and fines also apply to speeding offences.
A person has the right to appeal the suspension at a local court. The appeal must be lodged with a court within 28 days of being issued the suspension notice. You can file online, or go to a NSW Local Court. A fee is payable to the Court when lodging an appeal. Unless the court in the meantime orders otherwise, you must not drive unless the court upholds your appeal.
If you are a visiting driver and do not hold a NSW driver licence, your permission to drive in NSW can be withdrawn under the same provisions.
The law provides that a licence is automatically cancelled if you are disqualified by a Court from driving.
All driving is prohibited until the period of disqualification or cancellation has expired and a licence is reissued.
There are significant penalties for driving while disqualified or cancelled, including jail terms.
See Frequently asked questions for more information.
The Habitual Offender Scheme provides penalties to people who repeatedly commit serious offences. Under this scheme:
- Drivers who are found guilty of 3 serious offences (as defined in a list) within 5 years will be declared a 'habitual offender' by the courts
- They will be disqualified from driving for 5 years unless a court rules otherwise (minimum 2 years). This will be in addition to any disqualification resulting from the third major offence
- The court may order a longer period of disqualification, including disqualification for life
- There is no right of appeal against an additional disqualification period imposed for being declared a habitual traffic offender
- The court may also, at the time of conviction, or at a later time, quash the declaration if it determines that the disqualification imposed is disproportionate and unjust having regard to the total driving record of the person or special circumstances of the case.
For the purpose of the Habitual Offenders Scheme, serious offences include a major offence referred to in section 205 of the Road Transport Act 2013. For example:
- Where a vehicle is involved, the crime of murder or manslaughter or an offence under the Crimes Act 1900
- Driving at a dangerous speed or in a dangerous manner, driving recklessly, or at speed or in a dangerous manner while engaged in a police pursuit
- Furious driving, reckless driving, menacing driving
- Negligent driving where death or grievous bodily harm is occasioned
- Drink and drug driving offences
- Fail to stop and give assistance in an accident involving death or injury
- Driving whilst disqualified, cancelled, suspended or refused
- A conviction for an offence of exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km/h
- A conviction for unlicensed, never licensed.