One way in which many states discourage poor driving is through driver’s license points. Not all states use this type of system, but in those that do, certain traffic offenses equate to a certain number of points. For instance, changing lanes without a blinker may be one point, while speeding is two. These points typically stay on your driving record for a few years, and accumulating too many in a certain period of time can result in license suspension.
States Using a Points-Based System
These states all use a points-based system: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
How You Get Points
How you get points on your license depends on your state. Each state has its own rules regarding which traffic offenses are penalized by points, and if so, how many. If you are ticketed for speeding 10 mph over the limit in California, the points you receive will be different than if you were driving 10 mph over the limit in North Dakota. Some states assign between one and five points for each offense, while others assign between one and 10.
If you are ticketed for a traffic violation outside of your home state, you can still face the consequences back home. Many states agree to communicate with each other regarding traffic violations based on the Nonresident Violator Compact and the Driver's License Compact. Only Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin are not part of the NVC. Only Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin are not members of the DLC.
If you are from Nevada and ticketed in New Mexico, you do not get out of the consequences by returning home. The New Mexico penalties can be enforced in Nevada, and Nevada can implement its own punishments. Most states will assign you driver’s license points for out-of-state tickets.
Read More: How Many Points is a Speeding Ticket in CA?
Obtaining Too Many Points
Many states that use a points system have thresholds at which you must take steps to save your license, or you automatically lose it. For instance, if you gain six points within one year, you may be required to take a safe driving class and pass the written exam again. If you obtain 12 points in two years, your driver’s license may be automatically suspended for a certain period of time. A state may implement an automatic 30-day suspension or even longer.
The figures above are just an example. The actual thresholds and penalties vary by state. Also, some states do not specify a period of time. Whenever you accumulate a certain number of points, penalties may kick in.
How Many Points Are On Your License
If you have never been ticketed, then there should be no points on your license.
However, if you have had one or more tickets and you are unsure of how many driver’s license points you have (and whether you are coming up on an important threshold), you need to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles.
You may be able to do this online through the DMV’s website. You will need to provide personal identifying information to check your record, including your name, birth date, driver’s license number and Social Security number. If your state does not have a place to check online, you may need to call or make a written request.
Getting Rid of Points
There are usually two ways to get rid of points. First, they do not last forever. Most points stay on your license for only a period of a few years. Exactly how long depends on your state law. Second, you may have the chance to remove points from your record. If you hit a certain number of points, some states may allow you to remove them by taking a driving class or retaking the written exam. If you complete the task within a specific period of time, some points are taken off your record.
In most states, accumulating too many points from traffic offenses within a certain period of time results in a driver’s license suspension. How many points it takes for your license to be suspended depends on your state.
Victoria E. Langley is a legal content writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in philosophy from Northern Illinois University and a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School of Chicago. She has worked as a clerk for a boutique law firm handling breach of contract litigation, a corporate document reviewer, and a legal counselor for a transactional law clinic. She now focuses on translating legalese into everyday language for firms around the country. Her work has appeared on the U.S. News Law Directory and many law firm's sites. Learn more from her website, langleylegalwriter.com