How Do Points on a Driver’s License Work?

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Police Officer Takes Driver's License from Driver
Police Officer Takes Driver’s License from Driver/Image Credit: nomadsoulphotos

We love driving and to keep that privilege we need to maintain a valid driver’s license. If you’ve ever received a speeding ticket or other traffic violation, you may have points counted against your license by the state. Accumulate too many points and they’ll take your license away. Below we’ll explain how point systems work, how to check your standing, and what to do when you have points on your license.

How Driver’s License Points Work in Most States

Most states employ a points-based system to keep track of how many recent moving violations a driver has committed. Generally, state authorities will assign point values to violations based on their severity. Even if a state doesn’t track points, they’ll keep track of the total amount of violations using a different system. The U.S. states that don’t currently use a point-based system are:

  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

If drivers accumulate too many points in too short of a timeframe, they will become subject to various punishments. Some of the consequences drivers may face include:

Violations That Earn Points on Your Driver’s License

Most moving violations will put points on your driving record. And if an infraction is worth points in one state, it’s most likely worth points in any other state with a point-based system. In addition to blowing through a stop sign or passing on the right, some of the violations that earn points on your driver’s license include:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Failure to signal
  • Tailgating
  • Failure to yield
  • Improper use of lamps

The point value of each of these infractions will vary according to the severity of the offense and the state’s individual system. For example, a speeding ticket in Arizona is worth 3 points, while a DUI is worth 8. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, “If you accumulate 8 or more points in any 12-month period, you may be required to attend Traffic Survival School (TSS), or your driving privilege may be suspended up to 12 months.”

Non-moving violations such as parking tickets usually only result in a fine without applying any points to your record. This is why it’s important to understand the difference.

What to Do If You Have Points on Your Driver’s License

Get proactive to minimize the damage that points on your driver’s license can cause. If you make a mistake and accrue points on your driver’s license, there are a few things you should do. Take control of your future by internalizing some of the following advice.

Find Out What Is on Your Driver’s Record

Many drivers remain unclear about what violations they have committed and how many points they have on their driver’s licenses. Some of the moving violations are worded similarly but carry different point values. To deal with your accrued points in the most effective way possible, you need to know which infractions you have on your driving record.

Check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website to see if you’re able to pull up your driving record online. Usually, you will only need to provide a few details about yourself to gain access to the DMV database. Otherwise, you can always walk into your local DMV building, inquire via email, or give them a call.

Remove Points by Attending Driving School

One of the best things you can do if you earn points on your driver’s license is to attend driving classes. Most states allow drivers to remove points from their driving record if they successfully complete a corrective driver’s training course. It can mean the difference between taking your car to work each day or riding the bus.

Erasing points from your driver’s license may also mitigate any increases in your automotive insurance policy premiums. Although you will have to pay for your driving classes out of pocket, the long-term savings on car insurance might be worth it. This isn’t a guarantee though. Insurance companies have a lot of other ways to collect your information and they all have their own standards to set premiums by. At least, getting the points removed will give you more of a buffer between another infraction and a suspended license.

Drive Defensively

Once you get your points removed from your driving record, you need to keep it that way. Take what you learned in driving school and apply it every time you drive. It takes focus and discipline to obey all traffic rules at all times, especially the weird ones you might not even know about. However, defensive driving will save you plenty of money and keep everyone else on the road safe. Thanks in advance!

Defensive driving will do more than keep points off your driving record and stave off increased premiums. It can also reduce your insurance premiums. Most insurance companies offer a safe driver discount after a few years without incident. Drive safely and save thousands of dollars over the course of your life.

Hire a Local Attorney

Nobody knows your state’s point system better than your local traffic attorney. Traffic lawyers can take one look at your record and give you a pretty good idea of whether you can get the points removed. If your traffic ticket came with a court date, make sure you consult with an attorney to see what can be done.
Many times, the judge will throw out your ticket if the ticketing officer fails to appear. Other times, the judge may find insufficient evidence to continue the proceedings. Either way, a dismissal can save you the money you would otherwise spend on traffic school or increased premiums.

Now that you know how driver’s license points work, you can address any issues with your driving record before purchasing the vehicle of your dreams. Safe travels!