Do you think you can hire a car with demerit points? Well, sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t, as we explain below.
Stay on this blog till the end to know the answers to many questions you may have about how your driving record can affect your ability to rent a car in Australia.
Read till the end, as all rent-a-car companies do not emphasise your demerit points when deciding if they can rent a car to you. However, if you like to rent a luxury car, most likely they will.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty after defining what demerit points really are… Shall we?
What Are The Demerit Points?
Demerit points are penalty points you get if you commit driving-related offences.
If you follow safety rules responsibly, your demerit points remain zero. Otherwise, they keep increasing depending on your bad or dangerous driving behaviour. In case you cross the demerit points limit, you have to bid farewell to your precious license, which implies you can’t drive anymore.
Now, let’s have a look at the demerit point limits!
Your demerit point limit depends on the type of license you have and your location in Australia.
Below is a general guide you can stick to for now so you understand how demerits work.
1. Unrestricted License Holders
Unrestricted license holders can drive with minimum allowable restrictions. Its demerit points limit is 13.
2. Professional Drivers
A professional driver gets paid to drive, and their demerit points limit is 14.
3. Provisional P1 License Holders
Drivers with a P1 license have a red plate for 12 months of initial driving under the age of 25. They have a 4 demerit points limit.
4. Provisional P2 License Holders
A driver with a professional P2 license has passed the Hazard perception test online or offline. They have a 7 demerit points limit.
5. Learner License Holders
The learner license holder has a 4 demerit points limit.
6. Unrestricted License Holders With A Good Behaviour Period
If you have an unrestricted driver’s license suspension notice due to too many demerit points, you are eligible to opt for a 12-month good behaviour period. And, during that time, you get a 2 demerit points limit.
What Is The Tenure Of Demerit Points?
After you have committed a driving-related offence, the tenure of demerit points on your license will be there for 3 years from the date of the offence.
After the third-year anniversary, that record disappears, and you get those missed demerits back.
License Suspension And License Refusal
Once your license is suspended, you cannot drive unless you signed into a Good Behaviour period. If not, and if you still drive, you may have to bear imprisonment. It’s that simple!
So, if you love driving or if you need to drive, don’t break the law.
Of course, you can get your license renewed, but only if you don’t do the following:
a) Surpassing demerit point limit
b) Committing an unacceptable offence
Best to explain the above by looking at popular driving-related offences…
Common Driving-related Offences To Avoid
If you don’t want your driving license cancelled or suspended, you have to make sure that you drive responsibly and don’t commit the below-mentioned offences:
1) Crossing The Speed Limit
According to Road Safety Act 1986, driving 25kmph or more above the speeding limit will disqualify your license for a certain period. And yes, the penalty will increase as per the speeding limit.
2) Drink Driving
In this category, there are 7 types of offences:
a) Driving or being the owner of a motor vehicle under the influence
b) Driving or being the owner of a motor vehicle while the blood-alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the prescribed limit
c) ‘Fail the test’ offences
d) Refusing a breath test or failing to undergo a blood sample in the hospital after a motor vehicle accident
e) Failure to have zero BAC
f) Accompanying driver offence
g) Combined drink-driving and drug-driving
3) Being On Drugs While Driving
Drugs-related driving offences include:
a) Driving while drug-impaired
b) Driving while having a higher than the prescribed concentration of drugs in their blood
c) Avoiding drug-impairment test
d) Not providing blood or urine samples after a drug-impairment test
e) Providing blood samples containing prescribed illicit drugs within 3 hours of driving
f) Not providing a preliminary sample of an oral fluid sample for oral fluid testing and analysis
4) Driving While Being On Suspension Period
If your license has been suspended or disqualified and despite the fact you drive, the authorities may charge you with a maximum penalty of $39,000 or punish you with a two-year imprisonment.
5) Unlicensed Driving
If you get caught driving on the road without a license, you may be charged with a $9,913 penalty or 6 months imprisonment.
6) Letting Unlicensed Drivers Drive
If you hire an unlicensed driver, you may have to face a $2,400 fine or 3 months imprisonment.
This is why rental car companies always check your driver’s licence before handing you a vehicle. However, whether they will check your driving history record is a different question we will address below.
7) Dangerous And Careless Driving
Driving at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public can cause your license to be suspended. You won’t get your license back for 6 or 12 months, depending on how much speed limit you crossed.
On the flip side, if you run into the rear of another car due to your carelessness or negligence driving, you have to pay $1,900 for the first offence and $4,130 for the second and subsequent offences.
What Is A Good Driving History Record?
Let’s see what is considered to be a good driving record:
- Lack of accidents
- No minor violations, including speeding tickets
- No major violations, including reckless driving
- No lost demerit points on your license
What Is Considered To Be A Bad Driving History Record?
A bad driving record constitutes the following.
- One or more moving violations
- Driver’s license points (lost demerits)
- Car accidents
- Serious charges, such as hit and run or driving under the influence
What Is An Average Driving History Record?
It’s simple. Average drivers have an average driving history record. This may include signs of a good driver as well as a bad driver.
For example, a ‘good driving history’ with losing 3 points due to failing to stop at a red traffic light is a sign of a classic average driver.
How To Get A Clean Driving Record?
To get a clean driving record, you can try the below-mentioned things:
1. Pay Your Tickets Before The Due Date
You should pay your tickets on time if you have gone through a driving or non-driving violation. Your inability to do so may negatively affect your driving record and your Credit Report too.
On top of that, you may have to pay heavy and unnecessary fines.
2. Take A Safety Driving Course
Taking a safety driving course is a way to reduce demerit points from your record.
The driving courses approved by your state or territory will help you maintain safety standards on the road.
3. Drive Safely And Cuasously For At Least For Three Years
If you have multiple traffic violations, don’t get disappointed. You can remove such records by driving safely for a certain period.
Minor traffic violations, including speeding tickets, failure to stop, etc. can easily be expunged if you exhibit clean driving behaviour for a particular time.
4. Say No To ‘Rage’ While Driving
Sometimes others’ driving behaviour may piss you off. But don’t let it get to your heart. Instead, practice calmness while driving.
Be fine with the uncertainties. In case, someone’s reckless driving can cause others harm; you should call the Police on time for public safety. Never take public safety into your hands – you are just the law-abiding citizen, but not the Police!
5. Stay Away From Demerit Point Fraud
These days bribery and corruption are at their peak. One such bribery is demerit point fraud.
To explain this, consider an instance: you have committed a traffic-related offence. The law will add more points to your existing demerit points. To avoid that, you ask someone else, for example, your friend, to take the demerit points in exchange for love or cash. This is called demerit point fraud and should be avoided at any cost.
6. Careful Driving
While driving or parking your car in the parking lot, ensure you maintain a good distance from other cars. This way, you and other people will be safe, and you don’t have to be face-to-face with fender-benders.
7. Don’t Rush
You must have heard the popular phrase: “Better late than never”. Follow this phrase ardently and practically.
Never be in a hurry to reach your destination. Because, in a hurry, not only will you hurt yourself but other people as well. So, follow traffic rules sincerely to maintain a good driving record or improve the bad one. Also, avoid dangerous overtakings.
8. Avoid Distractions
While driving, refrain from using cell phones.
In Australia, 22% of car accidents and 71% of truck accidents happen due to distraction. Avoiding accidents will help you maintain a good driving record.
9. Educate Yourself On Safe Braking Distance
Longer vehicles take a long to stop.
For example, an 18-wheeler lorry will take 40% more time to stop than a smaller vehicle. The best way to avoid any mishap is to educate yourself on safe braking distance. Once you learn it, practice it every day.
With all that knowledge about how demerits and good/bad driving behaviour work, now let’s turn on to renting cars. In particular, how demerit points affect your ability to rent a regular car, luxury or prestige car.
Do Rental Car Companies Check Your Driving History Record?
Many rental car companies check drivers’ driving history records. They do so to check if you are a safe person to rent a car.
For your information, here are the common factors considered by rental car companies:
a) Invalid or disqualified driver’s license
b) One instance of driving while drunk, hit-and-run case, driving a stolen car, and other serious offences in the past 6 years
c) More than three moving violations within the past 3 years
d) More than two accidents in the past 3 years
e) Bodily damage causing accidents in the past 6 years
Different rental companies have different criteria, though. Make sure to check their website and terms and conditions before approaching them online or offline to rent a car.
If your driving record has some of the above-mentioned records, you should be better prepared about to explain upfront. Show you are a genuine person with a record of real mishap in the past, but simply it is not who you are…
There is no harm in checking the below to be safe too…
a) Check if the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) makes driver’s records accessible.
Ask them if they collaborate with rental car companies for background checks. Remember, your record is not meant to be publicly accessible, depending on your state or territory’s confidentiality and privacy legislation.
b) Find a good screening company and ask them to evaluate your driving record.
c) You can even ask for your driving history record from DMV and conduct an evaluation all your record to make sure you agree.
d) If you don’t meet the standards of a particular rental company, opt for another rent-a-car company.
Which Rental Car Companies In Australia Check Your Driving Record?
This company may choose to your driving history or get a document signed by you. (The document may be about the criteria to rent a car.)
Avis says that if you want to rent a car, you must have:
- a) A valid license that is not expired, disqualified, or suspended.
- b) Zero rash driving punishments
- c) No record of driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, or driving while alcohol-impaired within the past 4 years
- d) No record of escaping the scene of an accident within the past 3 years
- e) Zero records of driving or owning a stole vehicle
- f) Less than three convictions for moving violations within the last 2 years
- g) Less than three accidents within the last 3 years
This company has similar criteria as Avis. They may or may not execute checking the driver’s driving history.
3) Hertz Holding Companies (Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty)
The following scenarios may cause you rejection in renting a car with Hertz Holding Companies:
a) Invalid Licenses
If your driving license has been cancelled, suspended, revoked, or denied, and you are still carrying that license while driving, it is considered ‘invalid’.
b) Vehicular Crimes
The term ‘vehicular crimes’ refers to the theft and trafficking of vehicles and illicit trades in spare parts. These illegal activities negatively affect the economy, trade, and public safety.
On top of that, if you are found guilty of such crimes, your license will be suspended, and you won’t be able to hire a rental car.
c) Too Many Accidents
As the name suggests, if you have caused too many accidents, the rental car company will never trust you.
d) Extensive Tickets
You receive tickets or fines for failing to maintain control of your moving vehicle; then, you are in trouble.
Too many extensive tickets are a red flag and may hinder the process of hiring a car. So, be careful with that!
4) Enterprise Holdings (Alamo, Enterprise, and National)
The company doesn’t have any clearly stated policies for driver checks.
In short, if you have a lot of demerit points, fines or tickets, you should avoid Avis Budget Group and seek Enterprise Holdings. Remember, they are the most popular rental companies available at most airports.
If you are after a luxury car, reach out to the best cheap luxury car companies in Australia for advice.
Can You Hire A Car With Demerit Points?
Rental car companies understand that perfection doesn’t exist in this world. They understand that a license can never be points-free. So, as long as you haven’t committed any dangerous or major driving-related offences, your rental car company won’t have much problem with you.
If you are still worried, you better approach your rental car company and explain your situation to them. On top of that, if the minor offences were committed years ago and your present driving record is clean, you are eligible to hire a car, in most circumstances.
You can still hire a rental car even if you have some demerit points. Some rental car companies carry out background checks, while others don’t.
Overall, even if you have poor driving record history, you can always improve by taking some effective measures. But make sure that you don’t commit demerit points fraud as it will cause you more trouble when caught.