Getting a ticket is an expensive hassle. Yet, paying the fine might not be the end of the story. The traffic tickets you agree to pay could return to haunt you later.
Each state's department of motor vehicles (DMV) keeps track of the driving records of all licensed drivers. Many states use a system that assigns a point value to different kinds of traffic offenses.
More serious offenses have higher point values, while minor violations are lower. Getting too many of these points can have serious consequences.
An Example State Point System
The following example shows how a state could break down the points based on the severity of the offense. Note that this model is not exhaustive. Point systems vary from state to state.
Offenses worth six points might include:
Because six points is the maximum value for a single traffic violation, these offenses are usually the most serious.
In this example state, offenses worth four points include:
- 16 miles per hour or more over the legal speed limit
- Drag racing
- Impaired driving
- Any blood-alcohol level in a driver under 21 years of age
- Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle
Traffic violation convictions that may be worth three points include:
- 11 to 15 miles per hour over the legal speed limit
- Careless driving or improper passing
- Failure to obey traffic signals or stop signs
- Failure to stop at a railroad crossing
- Failure to stop for a school bus or school crossing guard
The example state assigns two points for the following offenses:
- 10 miles per hour or less over the legal speed limit
- All other moving violations of traffic laws
- Refusal of breath test for alcohol content by a driver under 21 years of age
These offenses are usually less severe and typically result in the fewest points.
Total Driver's License Points Penalties
The state may suspend your driving privileges if you gain a certain number of points within a short time. For example, adding 12 points to your driver record within a 12-month period might lead to an automatic point suspension.
You can face other penalties even if you stay under the point limit. Insurance companies can access your driving history and may use it to raise your insurance premiums. They may also consider you a high-risk driver and deny you coverage, especially if you have accident claims.
How Many Points Is a Ticket in My State?
The number of points that your ticket is worth depends on your state laws and the specific traffic violation. FindLaw's information about every state's traffic laws can help you learn how your ticket might affect your driver's license.
Can I Remove Points From My Driving Record?
Yes, you may erase or remove points from your driving record in some states. But you must meet certain conditions that show responsibility.
Some states may grant a point reduction once you complete a state-approved driver improvement course or maintain a spotless record for a while. Your local DMV office or an attorney can explain the details about wiping your driving record clean.
If I Move States, Do My License Points Disappear?
No, moving does not usually erase points from your record. Almost all states share traffic conviction records. For example, earning several tickets in New Jersey could affect your new resident driver's license in Alabama.
Similarly, getting a ticket while visiting other states could affect your driving record in your home state. If so, your home state might convert the point value to its system before adding it to your record. Some states do not add points to residents' licenses for certain out-of-state offenses.
Fight Traffic Tickets To Prevent License Points
Even safety-focused drivers can get a traffic violation. If you face a ticket or driver's license suspension, speak with an experienced traffic ticket attorney.
A local attorney will look at all aspects of your case and explain all available options. They can help you prepare for the administrative procedure and driving record penalties you can expect. You can work with them to seek the best possible outcome for your traffic case.