State point systems help authorities identify habitual offenders (DMV-speak for atrocious drivers) for the purpose of making our roads safer.
Participating states assign points to traffic citations. The point numbers vary based on the nature of the violation. The more flagrant the transgression, the more points you’ll see assigned to your driving record.
For example, here is a small sampling of point assignments for New Jersey:
- Driving the wrong way on a one-way street: 2 points
- Failing to observe traffic lanes: 2 points
- Improper turn at a traffic light: 3 points
- Improper passing of frozen dessert truck (true violation; look it up): 4 points
- Reckless driving: 5 points
- Improper passing of a school bus: 5 points
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury: 8 points
Keep in mind that point assignments vary by state. While New Jersey charges five points for reckless driving, Pennsylvania charges three, Wisconsin six, and Colorado eight.
DMV Point Repercussions
- Loss of driving privileges. Each state has a designated “point suspension total.” Reach or exceed this number and your drivers license will be suspended or revoked. You’ll then face heavy license reinstatement fees.
- Increased car insurance premiums. All auto insurance companies closely monitor driving records. Traffic violations and points on your driving record could cause a spike in vehicle insurance rates.
- Mandatory enrollment in a traffic safety school, costing time and money.
Point Reduction Options
All points have shelf-lives, expiring after a designated number of years as determined by your state.
In New Mexico, for example, points are removed from a driving record after one year, while in California drivers must wait three years.
If you’d rather not wait for time to clear your driving record, you may be afforded the option to trim your point total. This will depend on your state, or, in some instances, on the court.
States with point reduction opportunities usually offer them to drivers in one of the two following ways:
- Maintain a clean driving record for a designated period of time (usually a minimum of 12 months).
- Complete a state-approved driver improvement school. If this option is available, be sure the course meets state and/or court approval. If in doubt, check with your state motor vehicle agency.