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Critical Things You Need to Know About Driver’s License Points

getting a ticket and points on driver's license

What Are Driver’s License Points?

Points are a numerical penalty the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) applies to a person’s driving record when they commit certain traffic violations. Different moving violations are worth a different number of points – and once a driver reaches a certain number of points in a specified time frame, the DMV will take action, such as suspending their driver’s license. Your car insurance rates may be affected if you exhibit poor driving behavior. Driving carefully and obeying traffic rules is always the best bet.

On average, this system assigns between two and four driver’s license points if someone is guilty of a moving traffic violation. But it varies considerably: Illinois assigns 20 pints for texting while driving. Considering that driver’s license codes vary from state to state, it’s essential to check the driver’s license points system where you live.

License points are for moving violations only, meaning the DMV doesn’t apply any for non-moving offenses. One thing worth noting — the number of points depends on the type of violation. For instance, license points for a speeding ticket are different than those for an illegal lane change.

How Many Points Can I Get Before My License is Suspended?

Each state has its own set of rules around the points system – and some states don’t use it at all. For those states that do, there’s typically a number of points handed out for each moving violation. Once you accumulate a specified number of points in a designated time period, your license may be suspended. Most states start the time frame by the violation date, not the date of conviction.

Remember, even though a state may not use a formal points system, they typically have some other form of identifying high-risk drivers. Just because you don’t accumulate points, you can still face a suspended license or revocation for a certain number of moving violations (MV) or very serious actions.

StateNumber of PointsTime Frame for License Suspension
Alabama12-1424 months
Alaska12 points12 months
Arizona8 points12 months
Arkansas14 pointsWhen you reach 14 points
California4 points12 months
Colorado12 points12 months
Connecticut10 points24 months
Delaware14 points24 months
District of Columbia14 points24 months
Florida12 points12 months
Georgia15 points24 months
HawaiiNo point system 
Idaho12-17 points12 months
Illinois3 violations12 months
Indiana2 violations12 months
Iowa3 violations12 months
KansasNo point system 
Kentucky12 points24 months
LouisianaNo point system 
Maine12 points12 months
Maryland8 points24 months
Massachusetts3 surchargeable offenses24 months
Michigan12 points24 months
Minnesota4 violations12 months
MississippiNo point system 
Missouri12 points12 months
Montana30 points36 months
Nebraska12 points24 months
Nevada12 points12 months
New Hampshire12 points12 months
New Jersey12 pointsWhen you reach 12 points
New Mexico7 points12 months
New York11 points18 months
North Carolina12 points36 months
North Dakota12 pointsWhen you reach 12 points
Ohio12 points24 months
Oklahoma10 points60 months
OregonNo point system3 criminal violations in 5 years
Pennsylvania2 points for minor, 5 for major violationsWhen you reach 6 points for a second offense
Rhode IslandNo point system3 reckless driving in 12 months
South Carolina12 points12 months
South Dakota15 points12 months
Tennessee12 points12 months
TexasNo point system4 MV in 12 months
Utah35 points minor, 80 points major200 points in 36 months
Vermont10 points24 months
Virginia18 points12 months
WashingtonNo point system3 serious offenses in 5 years
West Virginia12 points24 months
Wisconsin12 points12 months
WyomingNo point system 

Different states assign different points for offenses. For example, in California, running a red light is 1 point. In New York, it’s worth 2 points. In Florida, you’ll be looking at 4 points.

What Can I Get Points For?

In the majority of cases, points will be for moving violations only. These typically consist of what is defined as minor and major infractions. Some states use more subtle ways to catch their drivers breaking traffic laws, including cameras that are used to monitor speed and red light runners. These nefarious traffic monitors are sneaky – in some cases, you won’t even know you’ve broken the law and been caught until a bill comes in the mail. Sometimes the difference between a minor offense and a major one is at the discretion of the ticketing police officer, so it behooves you to be polite when you get pulled over.

All states assign different numerical values to each of these. A speeding ticket is the most common moving violation across the board and the number of points you receive may depend on how fast you were driving over the posted limit.

Minor Traffic Offenses

Most states consider the following to be minor violations.

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Failure to yield
  • Not obeying traffic cones

Major Traffic Offenses

Most states consider the following to be major infractions. For some of these, even though they are still misdemeanors, a driver can be hauled off to jail. If you are committing any of these violations and are involved in or cause a car accident or injury, the offense may be automatically upgraded to a felony.

  • Operating the vehicle under the influence of any alcohol or narcotics
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license
  • Texting while driving (distracted driving)
  • Speed or drag racing
  • Hit and run
  • Fleeing from an officer
  • Improper passing of a school bus

Automated Traffic Enforcement

Many states use cameras to catch red light runners, those who speed and, in some states, those who fail to pay a toll on highways that use them. Typically, these cameras will snap a photo of a driver (and their license plate) who has committed a violation. Once the photo is reviewed by the proper authorities, if it is deemed credible, the offending driver will get a ticket in the mail.

These citations are every bit as legally binding as a ticket handed to you by a cop. Failure to respond may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

Motorcyclist gets a ticket and points on his driver's license

How Long Will Points Be On My Record?

Again, it depends on the state and the violation. For example, say you get a major infraction, such as reckless driving, in New York. That’s worth 5 points and it stays on your record for 18 months. If you’ve received no other citations in that time, the points drop off and you get reset to zero. In California, points stay on your record for 3-7 years.

What Steps Can I Take to Get Points Off My Driving Record?

For starters, drive safely and don’t accumulate points. It’s the best way to have a clean driving record. However, there are some steps you can take if you receive a citation and want to work towards lessening the impact.

Enroll in a Defensive Driving Course

Depending on the severity of your circumstances, many judges will look more favorably on a driver who takes proactive measures to show their desire to be a better driver in the future. One way you can do this is by enrolling in traffic school or signing up for a defensive driving course – immediately after receiving your ticket. This won’t work for more serious offenses, such as DUI. You can find a good online course, if going in person is not viable.

Dispute Your Ticket

If you feel that your ticket was issued erroneously, you can plead not guilty. You’ll be assigned your day in court. Once you get to court, you’ll need some evidence to show the judge why you shouldn’t be penalized for this ticket. You can also hire some help in the form of a traffic ticket attorney.

Hire an Attorney

If you are going to court, taking some legal help with you may be a good idea. You’ll need to decide if the cost for the legal beagle outweighs the short- and long-term costs of the ticket. If this is the ticket that adds enough points to your already-established record to result in a suspended license, then it may be worth the expense. Contesting (or even just appearing for) more serious tickets, such as DUI, will almost always need some legal representation.

Additional Consequences of Points on Your License

Besides the risk of losing driving privileges, there’s important information to understand. There’s a chance that your car insurance rates will increase or your car insurance company will drop you as a client. Again, it depends on the offense. Typically, driver’s license points won’t directly affect insurance rates.

If someone admits to or the court convicts them of multiple moving offenses, not only will that become a permanent part of their driving record but also their insurance history. Therefore, at the time of renewing a policy or when switching to a different insurer, there’s no guarantee the insurance company will offer that person coverage.

Find Affordable Car Insurance Quotes Online Today

If you have driver’s license points on your record but need quality and affordable insurance coverage, Freeway Insurance can help. We don’t discriminate just because someone made a mistake. For a free quote, contact us today.

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