Points and Your Drivers License
When you receive a ticket for a moving violation, the state will usually assign demerits or points against your driver's license. These points can vary substantially according to the nature of the offense. For instance, going ten miles over the posted speed limit will probably only earn you two or three points, whereas leaving the scene of an accident may result in six points or more in most states. Once you reach a certain threshold of points attained within a specific time period, the state may revoke or suspend your driver's license. When you receive these citations, you can also expect your car insurance rates to rise.
License Point Accumulation
Every time a police officer issues a citation to a driver, that information gets reported to the department of motor vehicles. The DMV then typically assigns the prescribed number of demerit points to the offending driver's license. The purpose of demerit driver's license systems is to keep track of repeat offenders and revoke or suspend the licenses of those who habitually break the rules of the road. After you accumulate a certain number of points, the state will issue a license suspension or revocation. Usually, drivers reach this threshold by committing several moving violations within a short amount of time. However, committing just one serious offense, such as reckless driving, could result in enough license points to put you over the limit.
Point Magnitude and Seriousness of Offense
Every state assigns points differently to various offenses. For example, in California, examples of minor, one-point offenses include disobedience to a traffic officer, failing to signal properly, and following too closely. Examples of California's more serious, two-point offenses (two points is the maximum possible for a single offense) include drunk driving, hit and run violations, and speed contests. In Florida, a speeding ticket for 5 mph over the posted limit will result in three driver's license points, while speeding that results in an accident will result in six demerits. Keep in mind that most states still assign points for offenses that take place out of state.
How Long Do Points Stay on Your Driving Record?
How long demerit points will linger on your record will depend on the seriousness of the infraction and state law. In California, one-point offenses remain on the driver's license for three years. Two-point offenses remain on the driving record for ten years. In Colorado, points remain on a driver's license for seven years. Massachusetts has a unique license demerit system that removes points from licenses annually for each year the driver goes without an accident. For example, if you received a violation that assigned two points to your license, it would take two years of safe driving to remove those points.
A Word on Insurance Consequences
Any time you receive a moving violation, regardless of the points assessed against your license, your auto insurance rates will likely increase. Most carriers keep the rates elevated for three years. Although insurers are concerned with the seriousness of the offense for which you were cited, their response to the violation does not necessarily correlate with the state's demerit system. Should you reach the threshold level of points allowed, you will most likely have to have your insurer file an SR-22 with the motor vehicles department in order to get your license back once your suspension or revocation period ends.