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New Zealand Road Code Test

Stepping over the line

Stepping over the line

Traffic laws are made to protect and ensure the safety of all road users. This section describes the penalties that you can face if you commit driving offences.

Demerit points

Demerit points are given for some traffic offences and for speeding infringements (except those recorded by a speed camera).

If you get a total of 100 or more demerit points within any two-year period, you will be suspended from driving for three months.

If you incur 50 or more demerit points, you will be sent a letter to warn you that your licence is in danger of being suspended.

If you are disqualified from driving for less than six months by the court, you may have demerit points added to any previous demerit points on your record.

If you are suspended or disqualified by the court for six months or more, any previously recorded demerit points will be cleared from your record. Demerit points will also be cancelled if you have not offended for two years.

If you are suspended for excess demerit points, you will be served with a suspension notice.

Your suspension is effective from when you are personally served with the suspension notice and you must surrender your driver licence to the person giving you the notice.

Some of the offences that incur demerit points are listed below.

Offence Demerit points
Exceeding speed limit by 10 km/h
Exceeding speed limit by 11–20 km/h
Driving at a speed that means you are unable to stop in half of the clear distance ahead
Driving in a lane at a speed that means you are unable to stop in length of lane that you can see
Driving at a speed that means you are unable to stop short of the vehicle ahead
Failing to observe Give Way signs
Proceeding before the way is clear at a Stop sign
Failing to keep as close as practicable to left edge of roadway
Failing to stop and remain stopped for a school patrol sign
Failing to observe the requirements at a school patrol crossing
Breaching a condition of learner licence
Breaching a conditions of restricted licence
Exceeding speed limit by 21–30 km/h
Passing or attempting to pass where no-passing lines are marked on the road
Failing to remain stopped for an enforcement officer
Failing to stop when followed by red and blue flashing lights
Carelessly or inconsiderately using a motor vehicle
Driving or attempting to drive when prohibited by an enforcement officer
Exceeding speed limit by 31–35 km/h
Exceeding speed limit by 36 km/h or more
Failing or refusing:
> to wait for result of a breath screening test
> to accompany a police officer when required
> to remain for evidential breath test or blood test
Person under 20 driving or attempting to drive with excess breath or blood alcohol

Careless, reckless and dangerous driving

The courts deal very seriously with drivers who drive carelessly, recklessly or dangerously.

Severe penalties can be imposed if you are convicted of one of these offences. The penalties will be especially severe if you hurt or kill someone, whether or not you have taken alcohol or drugs.

Penalties may include:

  • a maximum fine of $20,000
  • maximum imprisonment of five years
  • disqualification of your driver licence.

Not wearing a safety belt

You can be fined if you are aged 15 or over and you drive or ride in a vehicle without wearing a safety belt.

If you are the driver, you can also be fined if any passengers under the age of 15 are riding in your vehicle without wearing a safety belt or child restraint.

Mandatory suspension of driver licence

Your licence will be suspended on the spot if:

  • a police officer (but not a speed camera) detects you exceeding a permanently posted speed limit by more than 40 km/h or a temporary speed limit by more than 50 km/h
  • you commit one of the alcohol-related offences covered by mandatory suspension.

Your licence will be suspended for 28 days and you will also have to face court-imposed penalties for your offence.

Note: there is no legal provision for the granting of a limited/work licence in these circumstances.

Impounding vehicles

A police officer will impound your vehicle on the spot if you are caught:

  • driving while disqualified
  • driving while your licence has been suspended
  • driving without a licence, or with an expired licence, and you have previously been stopped by a police officer and forbidden to drive.

Your vehicle will be impounded for 28 days and you will have to face court-imposed penalties for your offence.

Powers of arrest

Some of the powers of arrest that a police officer has are listed below.

As a driver or passenger, you could be arrested if you:

  • don't give your name or address to the officer, when requested
  • tell an officer something that is not true about the identity of the owner of the vehicle
  • don't stop when signalled by an officer
  • assault an officer
  • refuse, or don't go with an officer for a blood or breath test
  • don't wait for the result of a breath screening test or an evidential breath test
  • don't give a blood sample when required by an officer or doctor
  • don't give your car keys to an officer when requested
  • drive when told not to by an officer.



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