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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.

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    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:

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

    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.

    StatePoints for Minor Speeding TicketPoints for Major OffenseNumber of Points for License Suspension
    Arizona288 to 12
    Arkansas2814 to 17
    District of Columbia288 to 9
    HawaiiN/AN/ANo license points program
    Illinois55515 to 44
    KansasN/AN/ANo license points program
    Kentucky3612 for drivers over age 18, 7 for drivers under age 18
    LouisianaN/AN/ANo license points program
    Maryland1128 to 11
    MinnesotaN/AN/ANo license points program
    MississippiN/AN/ANo license points program
    New Hampshire2612 for drivers over age 21
    New Jersey2812
    New Mexico2812
    New York21111
    North Carolina1512
    North Dakota12412
    OregonN/AN/ANo license points program
    Rhode IslandN/AN/ANo license points program
    South Carolina2612 to 15
    South Dakota21015 to 22
    Texas237 infractions
    Utah358070 for drivers under age 21, 200 for drivers over age 21
    WashingtonN/AN/ANo license points program
    West Virginia2812 to 13
    WyomingN/AN/ANo 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.

    StatePoints Automatically RemovedPoint Reduction Program
    AlabamaNo, but are no longer relevant for penalties 2 years after convictionNo
    Alaska2 points removed for every year without a violationYes
    ArizonaAfter 1 yearNo
    CaliforniaAfter 3 years depending on the violationNo
    ConnecticutAfter 2 yearsNo
    DelawareHalved after 1 year for some convictionsYes
    District of ColumbiaAfter 2 yearsYes
    FloridaAfter 3 yearsNo
    GeorgiaAfter 2 yearsYes
    HawaiiNo license points programNo license points program
    IdahoAfter 3 yearsYes
    IllinoisAfter 4–5 years depending on the offenseNo
    IndianaAfter 2 yearsYes
    IowaAfter 5–12 years depending on the offenseNo
    KansasNo license points programNo license points program
    KentuckyAfter 2 yearsNo
    LouisianaNo license points programNo license points program
    MaineAfter 1 yearYes
    MarylandNo, but are no longer relevant for penalties 2 years after convictionNo
    Massachusetts1 point removed from each violation each year after 5 years without an incidentNo
    MichiganAfter 2 yearsNo
    MinnesotaNo license points programNo license points program
    MississippiNo license points programNo license points program
    MissouriAfter 3 years depending on the offenseNo
    MontanaAfter 3 yearsNo
    NebraskaAfter 5 yearsNo
    NevadaAfter 1 yearYes
    New HampshireAfter 3 yearsYes
    New Jersey3 points removed for every year without a violationYes
    New MexicoAfter 1 yearNo
    New YorkAfter 1.5 years for DMV purposes and 3 years for insurance purposesYes
    North CarolinaAfter 3 years without a violationYes
    North DakotaAfter 5 years depending on the offenseYes
    OhioNo, but are no longer relevant for penalties 2 years after convictionNo
    Oklahoma2 points removed for every year without a violationYes
    OregonNo license points programNo license points program
    PennsylvaniaAfter 1–10 years depending on the offenseNo
    Rhode IslandNo license points programNo license points program
    South CarolinaHalved after 1 year and removed after 2 yearsYes
    South DakotaAfter 2 yearsNo
    TennesseeAfter 2 yearsNo
    TexasAfter 3 yearsNo
    UtahAfter 3 yearsYes
    VermontAfter 2 yearsNo
    VirginiaAfter 2 yearsYes
    WashingtonNo license points programNo license points program
    West VirginiaAfter 2 yearsYes
    WisconsinAfter 5 yearsYes
    WyomingNo license points programNo 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

    We recommend American Safety Council defensive driving courses for drivers seeking an auto insurance discount. Other options include Comedy Defensive Driving and iDriveSafely.

    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:

    • Arizona
    • California
    • Delaware
    • District of Columbia
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Idaho
    • Nevada
    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • North Dakota
    • Texas
    • Virginia

    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.

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