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  • DMV Point System in California

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    Point Values

    The Department of Motor Vehicles uses a "point system" to rate driving records, starting each driver with a clean driving record. A traffic ticket, however, can change all that. These are examples of violations that will earn your points:

    • A minor moving violation (traffic ticket).
    • Issues involving certain vehicle mechanics or additional equipment, such as brake issues and child safety seat violations.
    • Reckless driving
    • Driving on a suspended or revoked license
    • Hit-and-run accident
    • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)

    What Points Do

    As you acquire points, you place yourself in danger of losing your driver's license. The DMV has the right to suspend or revoke your driving privileges if you accumulate a certain number of points over a set period of time.

    • 4 points in a period of 12 months.
    • 6 points in a period of 24 months.
    • 8 points in a period of 36 months.

    Contrary to popular thought, driving records are not automatically cleared of all points once the points are over a year old.

    Effect on Insurance Rates

    When you apply for auto insurance, and every time you renew, your insurance company checks your driving record. If you've amassed points, you'll pay more, or even be booted.

    Notification of Points Added

    The DMV will notify drivers when points are logged against their driving records. Once you have received half of the points required for a license revocation, the DMV will send you a warning letter.

    Once you get within a single point of the revocation limit, the DMV will send you a Notice of Intent to Suspened, letting you know that you perilously close to losing your license.

    If your driver's license is suspended due to points, the DMV will mail you an Order of Probation/Suspension.

    Commercial Drivers

    A commercial driver's license holder in California will incur points at one and one-half. the rate of a noncommercial driver.

    Clearing Your Record

    Time will clear your record of any points logged against it. Here is a breakdown of how long each point infraction will remain on your driving record:

    • One-point additions to a driving record are usually cleared after 3 years.
    • Points for serious violations like DUI and hit-and-run incidents stay on for 10 years.
    • Failure to appear in court for any traffic violation will remain on the driving record for 5 years. Failure to appear in court for a DUI will remain on record for 10 years.

    How to Avoid Getting Points

    Don't break the law.

    But if you find yourself with a ticket, you might be able to attend traffic school to keep the points from being added to your record. If you've got a lot of points, consider consulting an attorney specializing in traffic tickets.

    Checking the Status of Your License

    Whenever you need or want to check the status of your driver’s license, you can order a driving record report. From time to time it's smart to verify that your license is in good standing and that no errors have been made on your driving record.

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