Almost every state in the country adopts a traffic ticket points system designed to assign a point value for different types of traffic offenses. The system is used by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to monitor the licensed drivers in the state as well as to incentivize drivers to adhere to traffic laws.
While the precise point allocation rules vary by state, getting points on your license does not augur well regardless of where you live. How many points can you get on your license? Here’s everything you need to know.
Understanding the Driving License Points System
Every state has its own way of keeping track of traffic violations. The idea behind the license point system is to punish errant drivers who are notorious for committing traffic infractions. While most states across the country have some form of point system, not all states have it. Wyoming, Washington, Rhode Island, Oregon, Mississippi, Minnesota, Louisiana, Kansas, and Hawaii have not implemented any driving license point system.
The lack of it doesn’t mean that they don’t have other methods of penalizing drivers that habitually commit traffic violations. They still monitor the driving records of licensed drivers in the state, only that they use a less systematic method of penalizing repeat offenders.
How Do You Get Points on Your License?
As a rule of thumb, any traffic violation could potentially add a DMV point to your license. The number of points assigned to you depends on the gravity of the infraction. The more serious it is, the more points you earn.
For instance, getting a speeding ticket almost always adds points to your license in most states. The number of points you get depends on how far above the speed limit you were driving.
In New York, if you are flagged down by the police for driving 11-20 mph above the speed limit, four points will be assigned to your license. If you’re found to be driving at 31-40 mph over the speed limit, you’ll incur eight points on your license.
Driving more than 40 mph beyond the speed limit will get you a staggering 11 points on your license.
In most states, getting a ticket for the following traffic violations will add points to your license:
- Careless driving
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Fleeing the scene of an accident you were involved in
- Not yielding at a stop sign
- Not yielding when another motorist has the right of way
- Reckless passing
- Running a red light
You run the risk of losing your driving privileges depending on the number of points you accrue on your license. When a law enforcement officer pulls you over and issues you a ticket, you have a small window within which to pay the required fine.
Alternatively, you could request a hearing to contest the ticket if you believe the officer was wrong and can present tangible evidence to back up your contention. If you lose the appeal, the infraction goes on your driving record, and the state will add points on your driver’s license. If you win the appeal or successfully negotiate leniency, the infraction can be dropped altogether or downgraded to a lesser offense. This may result in you receiving no points or fewer points depending on the result.
How Long Do Points Stay On Your License?
The duration over which points stay on your driving record varies depending on the state you reside in. Generally, license points are automatically removed after 1-2 years, provided that the driver in question doesn’t commit any additional infractions during that period.
Some states allow drivers to get points removed by completing a defensive driving course. If you’re worried about the growing number of points on your license, consider signing up for a defensive driving course online in your state if no other point reduction program is available.
How to Get Points Off Your License
There are generally two ways to get points off your license. On the one hand, most states automatically remove them after a specific period. This is true for Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, and several other states.
On the other hand, some states offer a point reduction program that allows drivers to get points off their licenses sooner. This is true in Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, New York, Oklahoma, North Carolina, North Dakota, DC, and other states.
Most states that don’t offer point reduction programs give drivers the chance to get points off their license by completing a defensive driving course online. This option avoids having the points assessed entirely.
Can a Lawyer Get Points off Your License?
As mentioned before, every state has a specific points threshold. Accruing points beyond a specific amount could result in license suspension. The length of suspension varies by state, with the total duration increasing as you rack up more points. Some states base the suspension length on how fast a driver racks up points on their license.
Aside from getting your license suspended, you also run the risk of getting revoked. A revocation means losing your driver’s license permanently and perhaps going through stricter requirements before you’re allowed to drive again.
While paying your traffic ticket and going about your life might seem like the easier option, you can see how the continued accrual of points on your license can lead to far more severe repercussions down the line.
It’s always a good idea to retain the services of a competent attorney the moment you receive a traffic ticket before paying it off. That way, they can examine the details that make up your case, review police reports, review investigations, and gather evidence to identify any weaknesses in your case.
Depending on the outcome of their findings, they can contest the ticket on your behalf and help you get points off your license. Remember, accruing points on your license doesn’t just increase the risk of getting your license suspended or revoked. It has far-reaching effects on your insurance rates as well. You have everything to gain by consulting a lawyer beforehand.
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