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Traffic Infringement and Demerit Points

Traffic Infringements and Demerit Points

When you are caught driving in an unsafe manner, most minor traffic offences are dealt with by way of an infringement offence. Usually, the penalty for an infringement offence is a fine and possibly demerit points. In some cases, you could also have your licence disqualified.

This section goes into more detail about infringements.

What are traffic infringements?

Most minor traffic offences are dealt with as infringement offences. Infringement offences include different traffic issues like speeding, parking illegally, not wearing a seat belt, not having a current Warrant of Fitness to name a few.

Usually, the penalty for an infringement offence is a fine, and possibly demerit points. In some cases, you could also have your licence disqualified.

How do I know if I’ve committed an infringement offence?

If you’re found committing a traffic infringement, you will be given an Infringement Offence Notice (more commonly known as a traffic ticket). Usually, this will be given to you in person (e.g. when a police officer pulls you over for running a red light) or by leaving the notice on your vehicle (e.g. a parking ticket). Sometimes it could also be sent to the vehicle’s registered address (e.g. if you’re caught speeding by a speed camera).

How can I challenge an infringement notice?

If you get an Infringement Offence Notice, but you think there are good reasons why you shouldn’t have to pay the infringement, you can try writing a letter to the prosecuting authority (the body that gave you the fine). The letter should explain all the circumstances around what happened, and why you don’t think you should have to pay the infringement. It’s up to the prosecuting authority to decide whether or not to let you off paying the infringement – they can still make you pay it, even if you write them a letter.

What happens if I don’t pay my fine?

If you don’t pay an infringement fine within 28 days after you were given it, you’ll get a reminder notice. Some authorities give more than 1 reminder. Generally, if you still don’t pay in the next 28 days, the notice will be passed onto the court. If this happens you have to pay an extra $30. If you still don’t pay in the next 28 days after that, enforcement action will be taken. Another $102 will be added to the amount you have to pay, and payments could be taken directly out of your bank account without your agreement. They could even stop you from leaving the country or could clamp your car.

How can I challenge a fine from the courts?

Once your infringement reaches the Court stage, it becomes a fine. If you get a letter from the courts telling you that you have to pay a fine for an infringement offence, you can only dispute the fine if you think that the prosecuting authority made a specific mistake when they sent the fine to the court.

You have fewer rights to dispute the fine by this stage.

What are some valid reasons for disputing a court fine?

Some reasons for disputing an infringement that has become a court fine are:

  1. It wasn’t you or your vehicle that committed the offence.
  2. You didn’t get an Infringement Offence Notice or a reminder notice.
  3. You didn’t receive the details about your hearing.
  4. The prosecuting authority told you that you didn’t have to pay the fine if you did a certain thing (like getting a WOF), which you did and had informed them.
  5. You asked for more information e.g. a speed camera photo, in a reasonable time, but haven’t received the information.
  6. You’ve already paid the infringement on time.

If you’re disputing the fine for one of the above reasons, please fill out this Application to Dispute form and follow the instructions.

Do I have to wear a seatbelt in a car?

Yes, you have to wear a seatbelt while in a car if the car has seatbelts. Not wearing a seatbelt is an infringement offence.

As a driver, am I responsible for ensuring children wear their seatbelts in my car?

Yes. You can be fined $150 for not making sure:

  • all children under the age of 7 are properly restrained in an approved car seat or booster seat;
  • all children aged 7-8 are properly restrained. If an approved child restraint is not available, the child must be restrained as securely as possible using any available child restraint or seatbelt;
  • all young people aged 8-14 are wearing a seat belt if there is one, and if not, they must travel in the back seat.

I’m 16, if I don’t wear my seatbelt in a friend’s car who will be fined if we get caught?

If you’re a passenger who’s at least 15 years old, then it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re wearing a seatbelt. You can be fined $150 if you don’t.

What are demerit points?

Demerit points are penalties that you can get for different driving offences. They penalise drivers that don’t drive safely and don’t follow the law. If you’re convicted of a driving offence, or commit a traffic infringement, you may get demerit points as well as a fine or other punishment.

What will I get demerit points for?

You can get demerit points for things like:

  • Breaking the speed limit. The number of demerit points you get depends on how fast you are going – from 10 for breaking the limit by less than 10 km/h, up to 50 for more than 35 km/h. You don’t get demerit points if you’re only caught by a speed camera;
  • Using your phone while you’re driving;
  • Breaking your licence conditions – e.g. failure to display an L plate;
  • Driving without a Warrant of Fitness or Registration;
  • Not stopping for alcohol breath testing;
  • Drink Driving
  • Breaking the road rules. E.g. passing in a dangerous way or not stopping at a stop sign.

There are also other traffic offences you can get demerit points for. For a full list, please see here.

Can I get demerit points for offences that go through the Court?

Yes, demerit points can be added to your record for charges that have gone through the Court. In some instances, you could be disqualified and get demerit points on top of that.

How many demerit points can I have on my record?

When you get demerit points, they last for 2 years before they are removed from your records. If you get 50 or more demerit points you will be sent a letter to notify you. If the Transport Agency doesn’t send you this letter, then it might not be valid for them to suspend your licence even if you accumulate 100 demerit points.

How can I have demerit points cleared from my record?

Demerit points will be cleared from your record after:

  • your licence is suspended (or you’re disqualified) because you have accumulated 100 demerit points, or
  • two years from the date of committing the offence, or
  • you’re disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for six months or more.

How can I find out how many demerit points I have?

You can ask the NZ Transport Agency for a summary of your current demerit points.

To find out your current demerit points (ones that you have accumulated in the last 2 years), you can call the NZ Transport Agency on 0800 822 422. They can tell you over the phone how many demerit points you currently have and what those are for.

If you wish to get your driving history or your record in writing, you can also call and ask for a Demerit Points and Suspension History Record. This is a written record of all your current and past demerit points along with any licence suspensions as a result of demerit points over the last 7 years. This costs $11.10.

What is the maximum amount of demerit points I can have?

If you accumulate 100 or more demerit points within 2 years, your licence will be suspended for 3 months for having too many demerit points and you won’t be allowed to drive. Demerit points are cleared from your record 2 years after you accumulated them.

What is a licence suspension?

Sometimes, your driving licence can be suspended as a penalty for driving unsafely. If you’re suspended you’ll be given a suspension notice and you’ll no longer be allowed to drive. You have to give your licence to the person who gives you the notice. You’ll not be able to drive again until you apply at an NZ Transport Agent to have your licence reinstated. You will only be issued a new licence after your suspension period is finished.

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