How Long Will Points Remain on Your Driving Record in the United States?

Any time that you are convicted of a traffic violation in most states, points will be allocated to your driving record.

There is often a lot of confusion around how long traffic points last and finding information on this subject can be challenging.

In this article, CheapInsurance.com will take a closer look at:

  • What the driver point violation system is.
  • How long points will stay on your record.
  • What you can do to have the driving points removed from your driving record.

We will also outline how driving record points affect your car insurance premiums and the ways in which you can reduce your insurance costs.

What Are Driver’s Record or Driver’s License Points and How Do They Work?

Many states have adopted a driver’s record point system—or demerit system—to penalize drivers who regularly break moving or traffic laws.

For every traffic offense committed, a certain number of points will be allocated to the driver. The number of points that get allocated to their record will depend on the severity of the offense.

The greater the risk associated with an incident, the greater the point value will be.

In addition to receiving points for each traffic violation, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will add extra points to your record if you already have multiple violations to your name.

All these points go on a permanent record which is accessible by law enforcement, the DMV, and insurance companies.

Although most states in the U.S. use this system, there are still some that don’t. The following states don’t have a system in place to track driver’s license points:

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

In the states that have a demerit system in place, the time that driver’s license points will remain on your record varies.

Points can remain on your record for between 1 to 10 years, depending on the severity of your traffic offense.

Below is a state-by-state indication of how many points are allocated to your record for minor and major violations, as well as how many points will result in a license suspension.

Key Point: What Is the Difference between Minor and Major Violations?

Major traffic violations tend to involve personal injury and property damage, whereas minor violations include a speeding ticket, failure to stop at a stop sign, and so forth.

Not only do major traffic offenses bring about fines, but they can also include jail time. Minor traffic offenses are also fined, but do not result in the offender being arrested.

State Points for Minor Traffic Violation  Points for Major Traffic Violation Number of Points Required For License Suspension How Long Points for Speeding Stay on Your Driving Record
Alabama 2 6 12 2 years for points to be removed for suspension, but the incident permanently stays on your record.
Alaska 2 10 12 1 year
Arizona 2 8 8 to 12 1 year
Arkansas 2 8 14 to 17 3 years
California 1 2 4 39 months
Colorado 4 12 9 Can reduce points, but the incident is permanent on record.
Connecticut 1 5 10 3 years
Delaware 2 6 14 2 years
Florida 3 6 12 5 years
Georgia 1 6 15 2 years
Hawaii N/A N/A No license points program. 10 years
Idaho 1 4 12 3 years
Illinois 5 55 15 to 44 Up to 5 years
Indiana 2 8 22 2 years
Iowa 2 6 3 5 years
Kansas N/A N/A No license points program. 3 years
Kentucky 3 6 12 for drivers over age 18, 7 for drivers under age 18. 5 years, but points removed after 2 years.
Louisiana N/A N/A No license points program. 3 years
Maine 2 8 12 1 year
Maryland 1 12 8 to 11 3 years
Massachusetts 2 5 N/A* 6 years
Michigan 2 6 12 7 years
Minnesota N/A N/A No license points program. 5 – 10 years
Mississippi N/A N/A No license points program. 1 year
Missouri 3 12 8 3 years
Montana 2 15 15 Points removed after 3 years, but conviction is permanent on record.
Nebraska 1 12 12 5 years
Nevada 1 8 12 Points removed after 1 year, but conviction is permanent on record.
New Hampshire 2 6 12 for drivers over age 21. 3 years
New Jersey 2 8 12 5 years
New Mexico 2 8 12 1 year
New York 2 11 11 1.5 years
North Carolina 1 5 12 3 years
North Dakota 1 24 12 3 years
Ohio 2 6 12 2 years toward suspension, but incident is permanent on record.
Oklahoma 1 4 10 Up to 3 years.
Oregon N/A N/A No license points program. 2 years
Pennsylvania 2 5 6 1 year
Rhode Island N/A N/A No license points program. 3 years
South Carolina 2 6 12 to 15 2 years
South Dakota 2 10 15 to 22 3 years
Tennessee 1 8 12 2 years
Texas 2 3 7 infractions 3 years
Utah 35 80 70 for drivers under age 21, 200 for drivers over age 21. 3 years
Vermont 2 8 10 2 years
Virginia 3 6 18 5 years
Washington N/A N/A No license points program. 5 years
West Virginia 2 8 12 to 13 5 years, but points removed after 2 years.
Wisconsin 2 6 12 5 years
Wyoming N/A N/A No license points program. 1 year
Washington D.C. N/A N/A No license points program. 2 years

Source

In most states, the following driving violations will lead to an automatic suspension of your license:

  • DWI/DUI.
  • Driving with a suspended license.
  • Speeding to elude arrest.
  • Highway racing.
  • Manslaughter/negligent homicide.

How Do You Collect Driver’s License Points?

When you commit driving violations and are caught doing so by law enforcement officers, you will be allocated points on your record.

You will then receive a letter with this information from the DMV. Driving violations are divided into moving and nonmoving violations.

Key Point: The Difference Between Moving Violations and Nonmoving Violations

A moving violation is any violation of a traffic law committed by a driver while their car is in motion.

A nonmoving violation is a violation of a traffic law that is committed by the owner or driver of a car while the vehicle is stationary.

Most moving violations will result in points on your record. Examples of moving violations include:

  • Reckless driving.
  • Disobeying the speed limit.
  • Illegal turns.
  • Not making a complete stop.
  • Drunken driving / driving under the influence (DUI).
  • At-fault accidents.
  • Running a stop or red light.
  • Racing.
  • Eluding an officer.
  • Failure to use turn signals.
  • Failure to yield.
  • Driving a car with broken headlights.
  • Driving without a seatbelt.

Nonmoving violations will attract fines, but they do not usually result in demerit points on your record.

Examples of nonmoving violations include:

  • Parking in front of a fire hydrant.
  • Displaying an expired registration or insurance card.
  • Lack of registration or insurance.
  • Parking in a no-parking zone.
  • A broken taillight.
  • Broken headlights.
  • Broken turn signal lights.
  • Illegal exhaust systems.

How Is Your Driver’s License Point Total Calculated?

Your driver’s license point total is based on the date of the traffic violation rather than the date of your conviction.

You need to be convicted of a driving violation before points are added to your driving record.

To determine the total number of points on your record, all the traffic violations and points you have accumulated in the last 18 months will be added together.

What Are the Consequences for Having Points on Your Record?

Whether it’s because you accidentally violated a traffic law or because you, for example, were aware that you were speeding, getting issued a traffic ticket is not pleasant.

In the section below, we outline three consequences to getting points on your driving record:

Higher fines

Traffic tickets can lead to higher fines and surcharges for subsequent driving misdemeanors.

Some of these charges will apply to you for years after an infraction, so future speeding tickets, for example, will become more expensive for you.

License suspension

The consequence of driver’s record points that most people worry about is the suspension of their license.

If you have multiple points on your driver’s record, your driver’s license may be suspended.

If you receive too many points on your driver’s license, you will be flagged as a high-risk driver.

If your license is suspended and you are seen as a high-risk driver, you will need an SR-22 certificate. This form will allow you to keep or reinstate your driving privileges after you’ve committed serious or repeated traffic offenses.

Key Point: What Is an SR-22 Certificate?

An SR-22 certificate, also known as SR-22 insurance, is a form that your insurance company will send to the DMV on your behalf.

This form states that you meet the minimum auto insurance coverage requirements in your state.

Higher insurance premiums

Although insurance companies do not directly use your driver’s license points to work out your car insurance rates, your premium is likely to increase as you will be considered a high-risk driver.

How Can You Check to See How Many Points You Have on Your Record?

To check your driving record, you will need to go through your local DMV or the driver’s licensing agency in your state.

There are three ways that you can check your record:

  • In person.
  • Online.
  • Through the mail.

To receive your driving record report, you will need to pay a fee. This can range anywhere from $2 to $25, depending on the state that you live in.

Your driving record report will include the following information:

  • Driver’s license status.
  • License classifications and endorsements.
  • DUI/DWI convictions.
  • Driving points.
  • Fees and citations.
  • Moving violation convictions and fines.
  • Traffic accidents.
  • Safe and defensive driving courses attended.

Your driving record is also known as an MVR, or Motor Vehicle Report.

Insurance companies will evaluate your record when working out your premiums, so it’s important for you to know what’s on your record. Your driver’s record can usually only be shared with someone if you provide your express consent. However, when it comes to car insurance companies, it’s accepted that they have an implied need to review this information. here are two more reports that you can have access to. Insurance companies also refer to these when deciding upon your car insurance premium.

  1. A C.L.U.E. Report, which stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, is a database that contains information about your past insurance claims. This information can include the date of the claim, the type of claim, and the amount of money paid. Insurance companies may use your C.L.U.E. Report to assess your risk as a driver and determine your insurance premiums.
  2. An Insurance Score is a numerical representation of your risk as a driver. Insurance scores are based on a variety of factors, including your driving history, credit history, and geographic location. Insurance companies use Insurance Scores to help them price insurance premiums.

By understanding C.L.U.E. Reports and Insurance Scores, you can take steps to improve your driving record and potentially lower your insurance premiums.

How Can You Reduce Points on Your Driving Record?

Points for basic violations can stay on your record for up to 5 years. For very serious violations, you could have the incident on your record for up to 10 years.

You may want to try to reduce the points that you have accumulated on your driving record. This can be done in several ways.

Challenge the ticket

Many states have specialized lawyers who can challenge traffic tickets on your behalf, but you will need to have proof that you were not at fault.

The officer who wrote your ticket is under no obligation to have proof that you were in the wrong, so winning a case can be challenging.

Attend driving school

A great way to reduce the points on your record is to attend driving school classes and present your certificate of completion to the DMV in your state.

This can significantly reduce your driving record points. We cover this in more detail a bit later in this article.

Maintain your vehicle

You can avoid receiving tickets for offenses such as broken headlights and turn signals, by ensuring that your car is always well maintained. From time to time, make sure to check your:

  • Lights: Make sure that headlights, tail lights, and turn signals are working properly.
  • Tires: Ensure that you have enough tread available on each tire and that there is even wear.
  • Front and rear windscreens: Look for cracks and stone chips in windshields and rear windows, and repair these as soon as possible.

Remain a safe driver

Try to remain vigilant on the roads and conscious of your speed and surroundings at all times. This can help you avoid accidents and stop you from committing traffic violations.

It’s also a great idea to attend a defensive driving course, which we will cover in more detail below.

What Steps Can You Take to Remove Points from Your Driving Record?

There are a few steps that you can take to remove points from your record. One of the best ways to do this is by taking a defensive driving course or by attending traffic school.

Key Point: What Is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is the practice of anticipating dangerous situations or the mistakes of others while driving.

Defensive driving techniques reduce the likelihood of a collision or an incident on the road and can even save costs related to driving (fuel and maintenance).

A course at a defensive driving school involves various driving lessons. Once you’ve passed a final exam, you will be awarded a certificate of completion.

You can mail, fax, or take your certificate of course completion to your local DMV which will then look at removing points off your record.

It’s important to note that not every state offers this system. Each of the states in the U.S. has different ways of allowing you to reduce your points.

For more information, Traffic School Online offers a detailed, state-by-state guide to removing points from your driver’s license.

How Do Driving Record Points Impact Insurance?

There are two types of points that insurers use to work out your insurance premium. This includes:

  1. The points system that is used by your local DMV.
  2. The independent points system that insurance companies use.

The points given by the DMV in your state won’t directly influence your insurance premiums, but they will make a difference.

These point systems all have the same purpose, which is to track your driving performance and increase your car insurance rates if you receive a ticket or are convicted of any traffic violations.

The more serious your driving offense, the more points you will have added to your car insurance record.

In North Carolina, for example, the state has a Safe Driver Incentive Program (SDIP) in place. This program penalizes drivers with higher insurance rates if they have multiple points on their record. For each insurance point that you receive, your insurance premium will increase. The North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Program (SDIP) authorized insurance rate increases are:

Insurance Points Premium Rate Increase
1 25%
2 45%
3 65%
4 90%
5 120%
6 150%
7 180%
8 220%
9 260%
10 300%
11 350%
12 400%

Having even one point on your insurance record will increase your insurance premiums. If you do have points on your driver’s record, you may want to shop around for cheap car insurance quotesThis is because each insurance company has a different way of calculating their insurance premiums. Comparing car insurance quotes is one of the best ways to find a better deal and potentially lower your car insurance premiums.

Cars driving on a road
image credit - Matt Barnard Pexels

By

John Davey

Updated

November 2, 2022

Edited By

Fausto Bucheli Jr