Most states have some kind of traffic violation points system, which is designed to incentivize good driving by giving negative points on licenses of bad drivers. The exact rules are different in every state, but you don’t want driver’s license points no matter where you live.
In this article, we’ll provide more details about license points systems, including how you get points, what happens when you accrue too many, and how you remove them with a defensive driving course. If you’re worried about points on your license, it’s a good idea to sign up for a defensive driving course in your state.
The Driving Points System
Each state has a different way of tracking traffic violations, but in all cases, the purpose is to punish drivers who regularly commit small infractions. While most states employ a driving points system, some don’t. The following states don’t have a system for driver’s license points:
- Rhode Island
Though these states don’t have points programs, they do penalize drivers who frequently receive traffic violations. Every state keeps track of driving records, but some have a less systematized method of punishing repeat traffic offenders.
States that have points programs use driver’s license points to track behavior. Points are added to your record when you are caught breaking traffic laws. These points are removed after a certain period of time or after taking a state-certified points reduction course.
How You Get DMV Points On Your License
Violating any traffic law can add DMV points to your license. Usually the more serious the infraction, the more points you incur.
In many states, speeding tickets add points to your license. The further above the speed limit you drive, the more driver’s license points you’re likely to get. In New York, driving 11 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit will earn you 4 points, driving 31 to 40 mph over will earn you 8 points, and driving more than 40 mph over the speed limit will earn you a whopping 11 points. California, on the other hand, only adds points to your license if you drive over 100 mph.
Other examples of traffic tickets and moving violations include:
- Improper passing
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Careless driving
- Blowing past a stop sign
- Running a red light
- Reckless driving
- Not following the right of way
- Causing injury or property damage and fleeing the scene of an accident
Depending on the number of points on your license, you could lose driving privileges. When you get pulled over, you’ll be issued a ticket by a law enforcement officer. You then have a window of a few weeks (depending on the state) to pay the fine or appeal the ticket and request a contested hearing. You may do this if you believe the police officer was wrong and you have evidence to back that up.
If you don’t contest the ticket, or if you do contest and lose the hearing, the infraction will be recorded on your driving record and you’ll get the points on your license.
If you win the hearing or negotiate for leniency, you may have the infraction dropped or downgraded. You would receive fewer points or no points on your license depending on the outcome.
Should You Fight A Traffic Ticket?
If you committed a minor offense, you may get it dropped if you simply show up to court and the officer doesn’t. You can also argue to reduce your guilt or that the financial burden of paying higher car insurance rates in the future would be too great of a strain on your family. As long as you take time to prepare before the court date, you have a chance of reducing the judgment, and that can reduce the points on your license.
What Driver’s License Points Mean
Accumulating driver’s license points can result in higher fines and even license suspension. Because points systems vary by state, the number of points you need for your license to be suspended will depend on where you live.
|State||Points for Minor Speeding Ticket||Points for Major Offense||Number of Points for License Suspension|
|Arizona||2||8||8 to 12|
|Arkansas||2||8||14 to 17|
|District of Columbia||2||8||8 to 9|
|Hawaii||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
|Illinois||5||55||15 to 44|
|Kansas||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
|Kentucky||3||6||12 for drivers over age 18, 7 for drivers under age 18|
|Louisiana||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
|Maryland||1||12||8 to 11|
|Minnesota||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
|Mississippi||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
|New Hampshire||2||6||12 for drivers over age 21|
|Oregon||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
|Rhode Island||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
|South Carolina||2||6||12 to 15|
|South Dakota||2||10||15 to 22|
|Utah||35||80||70 for drivers under age 21, 200 for drivers over age 21|
|Washington||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
|West Virginia||2||8||12 to 13|
|Wyoming||N/A||N/A||No license points program|
*Massachusetts has a points system that differs from other states in that it is only used for insurance purposes. It has other policies for determining if someone’s license should be suspended or revoked.
The length of suspension is different in every state. In many states, the amount of time your license is suspended will increase as you rack up more driver’s license points. Suspensions are also based on how quickly you accumulate points. Accruing points faster increases the chances you will lose your license.
Finally, note that these point totals are not a good means of comparing the severity of driving infraction punishments from state to state. Because every state has a different system for assessing points, it may be much easier to get 10 points in Utah than it is to get 1 in California.
License Revocation Vs. Suspension
If you continue to rack up points on your license, you could get your license revoked instead of suspended. A revocation means your license is permanently taken away and you have to go through more requirements to drive again. It may take a period of years to regain a revoked license.
How To Remove Points On Licenses
There are two ways that states remove DMV license points. Most states automatically take away points after a certain amount of time.
If you’re wondering how to get points off your license sooner, you can take driving classes. Some states do not offer point reductions but will let you take defensive driving classes to avoid having points assessed in the first place. If this is the case, you will likely be notified by a judge or other court official.
|State||Points Automatically Removed||Point Reduction Program|
|Alabama||No, but are no longer relevant for penalties 2 years after conviction||No|
|Alaska||2 points removed for every year without a violation||Yes|
|Arizona||After 1 year||No|
|California||After 3 years depending on the violation||No|
|Connecticut||After 2 years||No|
|Delaware||Halved after 1 year for some convictions||Yes|
|District of Columbia||After 2 years||Yes|
|Florida||After 3 years||No|
|Georgia||After 2 years||Yes|
|Hawaii||No license points program||No license points program|
|Idaho||After 3 years||Yes|
|Illinois||After 4–5 years depending on the offense||No|
|Indiana||After 2 years||Yes|
|Iowa||After 5–12 years depending on the offense||No|
|Kansas||No license points program||No license points program|
|Kentucky||After 2 years||No|
|Louisiana||No license points program||No license points program|
|Maine||After 1 year||Yes|
|Maryland||No, but are no longer relevant for penalties 2 years after conviction||No|
|Massachusetts||1 point removed from each violation each year after 5 years without an incident||No|
|Michigan||After 2 years||No|
|Minnesota||No license points program||No license points program|
|Mississippi||No license points program||No license points program|
|Missouri||After 3 years depending on the offense||No|
|Montana||After 3 years||No|
|Nebraska||After 5 years||No|
|Nevada||After 1 year||Yes|
|New Hampshire||After 3 years||Yes|
|New Jersey||3 points removed for every year without a violation||Yes|
|New Mexico||After 1 year||No|
|New York||After 1.5 years for DMV purposes and 3 years for insurance purposes||Yes|
|North Carolina||After 3 years without a violation||Yes|
|North Dakota||After 5 years depending on the offense||Yes|
|Ohio||No, but are no longer relevant for penalties 2 years after conviction||No|
|Oklahoma||2 points removed for every year without a violation||Yes|
|Oregon||No license points program||No license points program|
|Pennsylvania||After 1–10 years depending on the offense||No|
|Rhode Island||No license points program||No license points program|
|South Carolina||Halved after 1 year and removed after 2 years||Yes|
|South Dakota||After 2 years||No|
|Tennessee||After 2 years||No|
|Texas||After 3 years||No|
|Utah||After 3 years||Yes|
|Vermont||After 2 years||No|
|Virginia||After 2 years||Yes|
|Washington||No license points program||No license points program|
|West Virginia||After 2 years||Yes|
|Wisconsin||After 5 years||Yes|
|Wyoming||No license points program||No license points program|
Before you take any defensive driving class in order to remove points from your license, make sure your class is approved by your state.
Our Points Reduction Course Recommendation
Removing driver’s license points is tedious, and defensive driving courses can run long. American Safety Council makes the process simple and straightforward. You take classes from home at your own pace and contact a 24/7 support team with any questions. Plus, American Safety Council has some of the lowest prices in the driver safety industry.
American Safety Council offers state-certified point reduction courses in the following places:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
American Safety Council point reduction classes are fast and convenient, and most will allow you to print a certificate of completion at home or mail one directly to the relevant state body.