When you first get your drivers license, you take special care to do everything by the book. You keep your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2, come to a full stop at every stop sign, and stick to the speed limit.
But, as you get more relaxed behind the wheel, it is not unusual to bend the rules – sometimes a little too far – and end up with a traffic ticket.
One or two speeding tickets is no big deal, but when you start accumulating points on your driving record, you will want to seriously assess the consequences.
What are DMV Points?
Many states have a point system in place, and this system puts points on your driving record for certain traffic tickets.
Generally, the more serious or dangerous a violation, the higher the number of points. For example, you’ll get more points for reckless driving than you will for failing to give a turn signal.
Also, some states don’t even assess points for all violations. For instance, you might not get points for speeding if it’s only a few miles over the posted speed limit.
Point Accumulation Consequences
Just as each state has its own guidelines for how many DMV points you get on your license for various offenses, each state also determines the fines and other penalties associated with point accumulation.
Many states suspend licenses or require traffic school after drivers hit so many points within a certain time period, and some charge fines. For example, New Jersey issues a surcharge if you accumulate six or more points in three years.
Depending on the number of points and the violation, your insurance company might see you as a high-risk driver and increase your premiums. In some cases, it can take many months or even years to undo the damage and have your premiums lowered again.
DMV Point Reduction
Fortunately, most states are willing to work with you to limit the damage of the occasional mistake.
Often, if you take a state-approved defensive driving course, you can get a point reduction. It may not erase all the consequences of the ticket, but it might save you the surcharge or insurance hike associated with too many points against you.
And, who knows? You just might learn something that makes you a better driver!