Advertiser Disclosure

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.

 

In this article:

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.

State

Points for Minor Speeding Ticket

Points for Major Offense

Number of Points for License Suspension

Alabama

2

6

12

Alaska

2

10

12

Arizona

2

8

8 to 12

Arkansas

2

8

14 to 17

California

1

2

4

Colorado

4

12

9

Connecticut

1

5

10

Delaware

2

6

14

District of Columbia

2

8

8 to 9

Florida

3

6

12

Georgia

1

6

15

Hawaii

N/A

N/A

No license points program

Idaho

1

4

12

Illinois

5

55

15 to 44

Indiana

2

8

22

Iowa

2

6

3

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

Maine

2

8

12

Maryland

1

12

8 to 11

Massachusetts

2

5

N/A*

Michigan

2

6

12

Minnesota

N/A

N/A

No license points program

Mississippi

N/A

N/A

No license points program

Missouri

3

12

8

Montana

2

15

15

Nebraska

1

12

12

Nevada

1

8

12

New Hampshire

2

6

12 for drivers over age 21

New Jersey

2

8

12

New Mexico

2

8

12

New York

2

11

11

North Carolina

1

5

12

North Dakota

1

24

12

Ohio

2

6

12

Oklahoma

1

4

10

Oregon

N/A

N/A

No license points program

Pennsylvania

2

5

6

Rhode Island

N/A

N/A

No license points program

South Carolina

2

6

12 to 15

South Dakota

2

10

15 to 22

Tennessee

1

8

12

Texas

2

3

7 infractions

Utah

35

80

70 for drivers under age 21, 200 for drivers over age 21

Vermont

2

8

10

Virginia

3

6

18

Washington

N/A

N/A

No license points program

West Virginia

2

8

12 to 13

Wisconsin

2

6

12

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

Arkansas

No

No

California

After 3 years depending on the violation

No

Colorado

No

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

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.

 

 


 

FAQ: Points On Driver's License

What is the difference between insurance points and license points?

Most insurance companies have points systems that are separate from state driver’s license points systems. Insurance points increase your car insurance rates, while license points are used by the state to assess fines.

How do I find out how many points I have on my license?

You can order your driving record through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles online, over the phone, or by visiting the DMV in person. There are also third-party services such as American Safety Council that can obtain your driving record and mail it to you.

How long do DMV points stay on your driving record?

How long DMV points stay on your record is different in every state. In general, driver record points are automatically removed after one or two years, provided the driver does not commit any new infractions. You can also have points removed by completing defensive driving courses in some states.

How do I remove points from my driver's license?

Driver’s license points are generally removed from your record automatically after a certain amount of time. In some states, you can have points removed by completing a state-approved driving school or defensive driving course such as the ones offered by American Safety Council.

How much does three points affect insurance?

Three points on a driver's license add up to slightly more than a minor violation in most states. According to our rate estimates, having a speeding ticket can raise your rates by 10 to 30 percent depending on the provider.  

How do points work on licenses?

Most states assign point values to various traffic misdemeanors and violations. More serious violations cost more points. If you rack up enough points on a license within a certain time, you can get your license suspended or even revoked.

How many points will suspend your license?

States value driver's license points differently, so you'll have to contact your DMV for a specific answer. As little as three points can get your license suspended in Iowa, while it takes fifteen in Montana. 

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