Most states use the driver’s license point system. Each state has its own regulations governing how many points a particular infraction attracts and how long the points will stay on your record. Generally, the more points you have on your license, the higher the chances of suspension.
Driver’s license points also affect your car insurance rates. If you have several points on your license, it suggests that you have many traffic violations and indicates to the insurance company that you are a high-risk driver. As a result, you may have to pay more in premiums.
What Are Driver’s License Points?
When you commit a traffic violation, the Department of Motor Vehicles assigns numerical penalties called points to your record. Your driver record contains all the traffic violations you have committed over a specific duration.
Each violation is assigned a different number of Driver Violation Points. However, once you reach a certain number of points, the DMV takes action, such as suspending your license or imposing a penalty.
The points can also significantly affect your insurance rates as more points indicate reckless or poor driving habits. On average, each moving violation results in two to four points. Some states assign more points depending on the violation, for instance, Ohio assigns up to 20 points for texting while driving.
Driver Violation Points apply to moving violations only. Non-moving offenses do not attract violation points. It is also critical to note that points depend on the violation, so check your state driver’s license points program.
How the Driver’s License Points System Works
The driver’s license points program allows insurance companies to assess your risk as a driver before you can be insured. As discussed earlier, points are assigned per offense. Some offenses that may attract Driver Violation Points include:
- Running lights
- Reckless driving
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Not giving way for emergency vehicles
- Erratic lane changes
- Using an improper lane
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Unsafe operation of a motorcycle
- Ignoring traffic control devices such as traffic control signals or traffic lights
- Not carrying insurance
- Operating commercial vehicles without a valid commercial driver’s license
The consequences vary as the points add up, usually within a 12-month duration. Some consequences include:
- Driver labeled a high-risk driver resulting in higher insurance premiums
- 30-day to a one-year suspension
- A surcharge on your insurance policy
Some states do not use the driver’s license point system, including:
- Rhode Island
Everything You Need to Know About Driver’s License Points
Here are some of the crucial things you need to know about driver’s license points:
Not all Traffic Violations Earn Points
Some violations, particularly non-moving ones such as parking or fix-it tickets, do not earn driver violation points. Accidents caused by the negligence of another party may also not show up as points on your record.
Traffic violations that incur points are mainly moving violations. Each violation, depending on severity, attracts different points. These types of violations may include speeding, at-fault accidents, and DUIs.
Insurance Companies Do Not Rely on the Point System
Most insurance companies typically do not rely on your driver’s violation points. However, the point system is still a factor, as your driving violation points appear on your driving record.
Like most drivers, you may worry about your insurance rates increasing if you have been involved in an accident. Fortunately, the change in premium costs is not guaranteed and typically takes effect after some time.
However, you will not get away scot-free. Insurance companies have their system to evaluate each violation and determine how it affects your premiums. Remember, each insurance company treats driver violations differently.
When looking for an insurance provider, compare rates from different companies to find an affordable alternative.
Too Many Points Can Result in License Suspension
When you incur excessive driver violation points, the DMV in your state can temporarily suspend your license. The points and window of time required to suspend a license vary depending on your state.
For instance, if you accumulate 11 points in the most recent 18 months in New York, your license may get suspended. In North Carolina, your license may get suspended if you accumulate 12 points over a 3-year duration.
The length of the suspension also varies by state and depending on how many suspensions you have had before. In some states, points can stay on your record for up to 10 years. You can check how many points you have on record online if your DMV has digitized its records.
It is also important to note that even if you commit a traffic violation in a different state, it is still included in your driving record and contributes towards your total points.
If you move out of state, the violations from your previous state are transferred to your new state’s driving record.
However, even if your points do not carry over, employers and insurance providers can still get access to your driving record in the former state.
Serious Violations Can Result in Your License Getting Revoked
Some moving violations attract higher points. The more serious your violations, the more likely you could get your license revoked. In some states, revocation is automatic once you are convicted of a certain number of violations.
For instance, in the District of Columbia, revocation is automatic for the following violations, which attract 12 points each:
- Leaving the scene of a crash that resulted in injury.
- Attempting to or fleeing a police officer
- Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Aggravated reckless driving.
- Committing a felony using a motor vehicle
A conviction resulting from a serious driving offense can also result in fines and imprisonment.
You Can Reduce Your Points
Some states offer drivers the chance to reduce their points. The points you accumulate are not removed from your driving record.
However, the total number of points can be reduced significantly, bringing down your chances of suspension.
Typically, you can get your points reduced by completing a safety course. Some states, like New York, reduce up to four points for accident prevention or defensive driving courses. Other states, such as Georgia, remove up to seven points if you take a certified driver improvement course.
You Can Lower Your Insurance Rates Even if You Have Many Driver’s License Points
You can lower your insurance rates even after accumulating many driver’s license points by:
- Shopping around: Compare car insurance policies from different companies to find one within your budget. Consider the deductible and your premiums to determine whether the cost is fair.
- Ask about discounts: Consider bundling your homeowners and car insurance policies to get better rates. Some insurance companies also offer lower rates for paperless billing.
- Improve your credit: Raise your credit score to lower your insurance rates.
- Increase your deductible: The higher your deductible, the lower your premiums. If you have the money to cover your deductible, consider raising it to lower your premiums.
- Take a defensive driving course: Taking a course can be a way to dismiss penalties for traffic violations. However, if you take the course unwarranted, insurance companies view you as a cautious driver, which may result in lower premiums.
- Car accident forgiveness: Some insurance companies may offer ‘car accident forgiveness,’ which overlooks your first accident under their policy. Take advantage of car accident forgiveness to keep your rates the same.
Whether it is a fender bender or a speeding ticket, traffic violations result in more driver’s license points.
However, you can reduce the impact of these points on your auto insurance rates by following the simple steps above.
While you cannot go back in time to change your traffic violation, you can avoid increasing your insurance premiums.
If your driving record is less than perfect, contact your insurance company to learn more about getting affordable rates.