When you do have an infraction, state departments of motor vehicles may add points to your driving record. Unlike a game, these aren’t points you want to rack up. You could get your driver’s license suspended if you get too many points in a certain period of time.
Here’s what you should know about driver’s license points and how they might affect your auto insurance or ability to continue driving.
What are driver’s license points?
Driver’s license points are typically included on your driver record if you have had a moving violation or another serious type of infraction.
Each state and motor vehicle department calculates driver’s license points differently, and one infraction may earn you points in one state and not another. In other states, there aren’t points at all.
Typically, the more severe or unsafe your infraction is judged to be, the more points you might earn on your driving record.
Here are six things you should know about driver’s license points:
1. Car insurance companies typically don’t use your driver’s license points.
Car insurance companies typically don’t use the driver’s license points that track your infractions and violations.
However, this doesn’t mean you’re going to get away scot-free after an infraction. Your rates may still go up, as car insurance companies have their own methodology that evaluates each violation to determine how it will affect your auto insurance premium.
Car insurance companies treat tickets and violations differently, so you may want to shop for another insurance policy if your rate increases after getting points added to your driver’s license. Another insurance company may not require you to pay as high a surcharge as your current provider.
2. How many points you can get on your driver’s license depends on your state.
Each state department of motor vehicles assigns points differently. For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles considers speeding a one-point conviction. The far more severe DUI or hit-and-run accident are two points.
Here’s how many points you can get on your driver’s license before its suspended in each state or territory, according to their respective departments of motor vehicles:
|State||Driver’s license points resulting in a suspension|
|Alabama||12 to 14 points in 2 years|
|Alaska||12 points in 1 year|
|Arizona||8 points in 1 year|
|Arkansas||14 points at any time|
|California||4 points in 1 year|
|Colorado||12 points in 1 year|
|Connecticut||10 points in 2 years|
|Delaware||12 to 14 points in 2 years|
|Florida||12 points in 1 year|
|Georgia||15 points in 2 years|
|Hawaii||Doesn’t have a point system|
|Idaho||12 points in 1 year|
|Illinois||3 citations in 1 year, points vary and will determine length of suspension|
|Iowa||3 moving violations in a year|
|Kansas||Doesn’t have a point system|
|Kentucky||12 points in 2 years|
|Louisiana||Doesn’t have a point system|
|Maine||12 points in 1 year|
|Maryland||8 points in 2 years|
|Massachussets||3 speeding tickets in 12 months or 3 surchargeable events in 2 years|
|Michigan||12 points in 2 years|
|Minnesota||Doesn’t have a point system|
|Mississippi||Doesn’t have a point system|
|Missouri||8 points in 18 months|
|Montana||15 points in 3 years|
|Nebraska||12 points in 2 years|
|Nevada||12 points in 1 year|
|New Hampshire||12 points in 1 year|
|New Jersey||12 points|
|New Mexico||7 points in 12 months|
|New York||11 points in 18 months|
|North Carolina||12 points in 3 years|
|North Dakota||12 points|
|Ohio||12 points in 2 years|
|Oklahoma||10 points in 5 years|
|Oregon||Doesn’t have a point system|
|Pennsylvania||6 points, after multiple times|
|Rhode Island||Doesn’t have a point system|
|South Carolina||12 points|
|Tennessee||12 points in 1 year|
|Texas||4 moving violations in 1 year|
|Utah||200 points in 3 years|
|Vermont||10 points in 2 years|
|Virginia||18 points in 1 year|
|Washington||6 moving violations in 1 year|
|West Virginia||12 to 13 points|
|Wisconsin||12 points in 1 year|
|Wyoming||Doesn’t have a point system|
|Washington, D.C.||10 or 11 points|
3. Not every incident will lead to points on your record.
The good news is not everything will lead to points on your record. You typically won’t get points added to your driving record for more minor issues like parking tickets, broken lights, or outdated tags. Instead, you’ll have to pay a fine and correct the issue.
Moving violations such as speeding, driving under the influence, and at-fault accidents, almost always cause points on your record.
4. How long points stay on your license depends on the violation and your state.
Points don’t stay on your driving record forever. How long points stay on your record depends on the type of violation and your state. For example, violations can stay on your record anywhere between three and ten years in California. Driving under the influence and other severe convictions remain on your driving record for 10 years.
Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to see how long points stay on your record for your specific violation.
5. You can remove points from your driving record.
In some cases, you may be able to remove points from your driver’s license and clean up your driving record.
In some states, you may be able to take a defensive driving course or attend traffic school to remove a ticket and the points from your conviction from your record.
If you believe you received a ticket in error, you can also contest the ticket. You could get the ticket thrown out or pay a lower fine. Keep in mind: You may have to pay administrative or court fees to contest a ticket.
6. You can check how many points you have on your license.
If you want to check how many points you have on your license, you’ll want to go to your state’s department of motor vehicles and obtain your driving record. You can request a copy of your driving report online or by mail. You may also have to visit a local office in person.
Be aware: You’ll typically have to pay a small fee, anywhere from $2 to $25 depending on your state, to get a copy of your driving record.
The bottom line
Whether it’s a speeding ticket, a fender bender, or an at-fault accident, getting points added to your license can have serious impacts. The good news is you can sometimes take steps to reduce the impact on your driving privileges or your auto insurance rates.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.