About your responsibilities

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 infringements 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 riding and 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 and riding 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.

Your driver licence card will be permanently cancelled as a result of the suspension.

When your suspension has ended you will remain unlicensed. You are not entitled to drive until you apply at a NZTA licensing agent to have your licence reinstated and a new licence has been issued.

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

General description of offence Demerit points
Demerit points for speed related offences  
Exceeding fixed speed limit by not more than 10km/h
10
Exceeding the speed limit by more than 10km/h but not more than 20km/h
20
Exceeding the speed limit by more than 20km/h but not more than 30km/h
35
Exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h but not more than 35km/h
40
Exceeding the speed limit by more than 35km/h
50
Using equipment in a motor vehicle that interferes with the operation of a speed measuring device
25
Possessing equipment in a motor vehicle that is designed to interfere with the operation of a speed measuring device
25
Exceeding the speed for stopping distance
20
Exceeding the speed for stopping distance on a road not marked in lanes
20
Demerit points for mobile phone related offences  
Using a cellphone while driving
20
Demerit points for driver licence related offences  
Driving a motor vehicle contrary to the GDLS conditions of your driver licence (excluding the requirement to display L plates)
35
Failing to display L plates as required
25
Driving a motor vehicle contrary to the non-GDLS conditions of your driver licence
25
Demerit points for vehicle related offences  
Operating an unregistered motor vehicle by driving or using it on a road in contravention of section 242(1) of the Land Transport Act 1998
20
Operating an unlicensed motor vehicle by driving or using it on a road in contravention of section 242(1) of the Land Transport Act 1998
15
Operating a motor vehicle on road without plates affixed
20
Using trade plates when not eligible
20
Operating a motor vehicle displaying plates or licence not authorised for that motor vehicle
25
Operating a motor vehicle displaying an object or design likely to be mistaken for plates or licence authorised for that motor vehicle
25
Operating a motor vehicle with plates or licence that is wholly or partially obscured or not easily distinguishable
25
Operating a motor vehicle with a temporary exemption granted under regulation 20 of the Land Transport (Motor Vehicle Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2011
20
Failing to operate a motor vehicle with an exhaust system that complies with relevant noise output standards
25
Operating a vehicle that creates excessive noise
25
Creating excessive noise within or on vehicle
25
Demerit points for alcohol and enforcement officer related offences  
Failing or refusing to remain for an evidential breath test or blood test
50
Person younger than 20 driving or attempting to drive with excessive breath alcohol or blood alcohol concentration
50

Driving or attempting to drive with breath alcohol exceeding 250 micrograms but not exceeding 400 micrograms

50

Driving or attempting to drive with blood alcohol exceeding 50 milligrams but not exceeding 80 milligrams

50

Driving or attempting to drive with blood alcohol exceeding 50 milligrams but not exceeding 80 milligrams and failing or refusing to take an evidential breath test

50
Failing to stop on request or signal of an enforcement officer, or on being followed by motor vehicle displaying flashing blue, or blue and red, lights or sounding a siren
35
Failing to remain stopped for an enforcement officer
35
Driving or attempting to drive when forbidden by an enforcement officer
35
Failing or refusing to accompany an enforcement officer when so required
50
Failing to produce zero alcohol licence
25
Holding an interlock licence or zero alcohol licence and contravening the zero breath or blood alcohol level
50
Demerit points for commercial driving related offences  
Producing logbook with 1-5 omissions
10
Producing logbook with 6-10 omissions
20
Producing logbook with 11 or more omissions
30
Failing to produce logbook
35
Failing to produce approved alternative record to an enforcement officer on demand
35
Vehicle recovery service vehicles failing to complete and retain tow authorities
35
A driver or contractor working within an alternative fatigue management scheme failing to keep records
35
Taxi driver accepting hire in specified area without an in-vehicle security camera system that is operating
20
Taxi driver accepting hire in specified area with an in-vehicle security camera system that has an unobscured view of the interior
20
Demerit points for helmet related offences  
Driving or riding all-terrain vehicle, motorcycle, or moped without a securely fastened approved helmet
25
Driving or riding all-terrain vehilce, motorcycle, or moped with a damaged safety helmet
25
Demerit points for pedestrian crossing and pedestrian zone related offences  
Failing to give way at a pedestrian crossing
35
Entering a pedestrian crossing when passage is blocked
35
Failing to give way to pedestrians on shared zone
35
Failing to comply with school patrol sign
20
Passing at a school crossing point or pedestrian crossing
20
Demerit points for rail related offences  
Driver fails to give way to rail vehicle approaching level crossing
20
Driving etc, a cycle, vehicle, or animal across level crossing when there is a risk of collision with rail vehicle
20
Failing to comply with a stop sign at a level crossing
20
Fail to remain stationary at stop sign until level crossing clear
20
Entering a controlled area of a level crossing when red signal displayed
20
Entering a controlled area of a level crossing when barrier arm lowered
20
Demerit points for road rules related offences  
Fail to drive as near as practicable to the left of the roadway
20
Fail to allow impeded traffic to pass
20
Unsafe passing
35
Impeding vehicle when passing
35
Passing to right of no-passing line
35
Drive in emergency stopping lane
10
Fail to comply with handheld stop sign
20
Driver fails to stop at stop sign
20
Driver fails to give way at stop sign
20
Driver fails to give way at give-way sign
20
Driver fails to give way at give-way sign controlling a one-way section of road
25
Driver of vehicle changing lanes or turning fails to give way to vehicle not changing lanes or turning
20
Driver of right-turning vehicle fails to give way to an approaching left-turning vehicle
20
Driver at intersection fails to give way to vehicle approaching from right
20
Driver on terminating road approaching or crossing a T intersection fails to give way
20
Driver fails to give way to road user on footpath when entering/exiting driveway
20
Driver fails to give way to a vehicle on roadway when exiting driveway
20
Driver entering roundabout fails to give way
20
Drive too close to vehicle in front
20
Exceed speed for stopping distance
20
Exceed speed for stopping distance on road not marked in lanes
20
Driver permits riding dangerously
20
Careless or inconsiderate use of motor vehicle
35

Careless, reckless and dangerous riding

The courts deal very seriously with road users who drive or ride 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.

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 40km/h or a temporary speed limit by more than 50km/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:

  • riding while disqualified
  • riding while your licence has been suspended
  • driving without a licence, or with an expired licence, or before your licence has been reinstated 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 rider 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
  • ride when told not to by an officer.

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Last updated: 28 November 2014