Do double mistakes follow you home if you’re a highway driver?

Do double mistakes follow you home if you're a highway driver?

A double penalty traffic offense warning can have very different consequences, depending on where you live.

Double demerit penalties are a common police deterrent for misconduct on many Australian roads, but the result is not always the same.

People who break the law driving between states can face the same penalty as home state drivers — but not always and not everywhere.

The ACT transfers any point penalty for an offense committed in NSW directly onto the driver’s license, including double faults, but Queensland and Tasmania only apply the point penalty to match a similar local offence.

In other words, you’ll pay the NSW fine – but the points applied to your driving license will equate to the same offense in your home state.

Queensland is opposed to using double demerits as a holiday deterrent, instead taking a year-round approach.

“There is no proven safety or deterrent benefit of enforcing double penalties only during holiday periods,” said a spokesman for the state Transportation and Highway Authority.

“It’s more effective to enforce double penalty points for repeat offenders year-round because it directly addresses recidivism.”

NSW led the Double Demerits campaign in 1997 and continues to this day.

“Double faults are enforced to discourage drivers from doing the wrong thing on our roads during particularly busy or dangerous times,” said a spokesman for Transport for NSW.

“Monitoring since the introduction of double fault points shows that there is strong community support and self-reported changes in behavior during holiday periods.”

The situation from state to state on double faults as reported journey of police and state government spokespersons in each state, is:

“A Queensland driver who commits an interstate penalty point offense will be subject to the penalty points applicable to the same offense in Queensland,” said a Queensland Police spokesman.

“Double penalty points for repeat offenses in Queensland apply year-round. This means double penalties could apply if the driver has committed a previous offense within a year and not just during holiday periods.

“Additional demerit points will be awarded for certain second or subsequent driver seatbelt offences, motorcycle helmet offences, speeding in excess of 20km/h and cell phone violations committed within a year of the first offence.

“You don’t have to commit the same offense a second or later time to get double penalties – the offense just has to be within the same offense group.”

“The Demerit Points Scheme in NSW is based on a nationally agreed driving license system,” said a spokesman for Transport for NSW.

“Missing points can be earned driving anywhere in Australia. If you commit an offense outside of NSW, the number of demerit points that the offense entails in NSW can still be applied to your licence.”

“Double offenses are imposed by jurisdiction, and drivers from another jurisdiction are subject to double penalties,” said an ACT police spokesman.

“For example if an ACT driver is caught speeding in NSW. . . that rider would have those double penalties applied to his ACT license notwithstanding the fact that the ACT does not currently have double penalties in effect.”

“There are no double demerits in Tasmania,” said a spokesman for the Department of Growth.

“A person holding a Tasmanian driver’s license who commits an offense in another jurisdiction on a double-penalty day will be assigned the penalties as if the offense had been committed in Tasmania,” a spokesman for the Department for State Growth said:

“Tasmania obtains the national offense code only through the Demerit Point Exchange (DPX) system, maps this to the relevant Tasmanian offense and applies it to the individual’s licence. Tasmania will not be notified if the offense occurred on a double penalty day.

“However, if a person denies the offense and it is confirmed in an interstate court, Tasmania would assign demerit points in accordance with the court ruling.”

“South Australia (SA) does not apply ‘double penalty points’ to drivers,” says a police spokesman.

“Double demerits are not currently used in the Northern Territory,” said a spokesman for the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Ambulance Services.

“If an NT licensed driver commits a driving offense on the highway, the minus point penalty, if any, will be assessed based on the same offense within the NT.

“Put simply, the regular penalty would be imposed.”

“Error points accumulated in another Australian jurisdiction will require you to pay for the offence, but the error points will not be credited to your Western Australian (WA) driving licence,” said a spokesman for the WA Department of Transport

“If you apply for a WA driving license and surrender a driving license from another Australian jurisdiction, any failure points earned in that jurisdiction are not transferrable to the WA driving licence.”

Paul Gover

Paul Gover has been a motoring journalist for more than 40 years and has worked for newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television. A qualified general news journalist and sports reporter, his passion for driving has taken him to Wheels, Motor, Car Australia, Which Car and Auto Action magazines. He is a champion racer as well as a World Car of the Year judge.

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