Motorists who exceed their legal limit for demerit points are
continuing to drive for several years before having their
The long waits are being criticised by motoring advocates who
say the suspension needs to be timely and enforced within
days of the breach.
The longest time the Transport Agency waited before
suspending a driver's licence was 1412 days in Wanganui -
nearly four years - followed by 1171 in New Plymouth and 1133
in Manukau City. It took 1006 days for an Auckland driver to
lose his or her licence through demerit points, according to
information provided to the Herald under the Official
Information Act. The shortest time it took to suspend a
licence was on the same day the demerit points quota was
Demerit points are accrued by certain driving offences
including speed, with the exception of speed cameras, mobile
phone and alcohol-related offences, and a licence can be
suspended for three months once 100 or more points are
accumulated in any two-year period.
A suspension cannot be served once a driver's most active
demerit points are more than two years old. However if the
driver continues to offend before being served with a
suspension notice and the total number of active demerit
points does not drop below 100 then the driver will remain
AA motoring affairs manager Mike Noon was surprised at the
delays. "If you've exceeded your demerit points then from our
perspective you should be contacted and advised of that and
that should be timely. And that's not months or years later."
Under the current process drivers receive a written warning
when they reach 50 active demerit points, but are only
notified they have accumulated 100 points when the suspension
notice is served in person. It comes into effect immediately.
Mr Noon said offending drivers should be sent a notice
advising them they had exceeded the limit and then be given a
set number of days to surrender their licence.
Road safety campaigner and Dog and Lemon Guide editor Clive
Matthew-Wilson said the system was a shambles. Anyone who
exceeded their demerit points limit should lose their licence
physically within seven days. "If they are a sufficiently
dangerous driver to lose their licence then why is it taking
months or years for the police to do something about it?"
NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt said there were many reasons
why delays occurred in serving a notice, including people not
wanting to be found. Not all drivers received a warning
letter because it could be sent to an old address.
- By Nikki Preston of the New Zealand Herald