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  • DMV Point System in California

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    Point Values in California

    The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) 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 you driving record 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 with a suspended or revoked driver's license.
    • Being involved in a hit-and-run accident.
    • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).

    Suspended California Driver's License

    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 accrued points, you'll pay more, or even need to find a new insurance company.

    Notification of Points Added

    The California DMV will notify you when points are added to your driving record. Once you have received half of the points required for a driver's license revocation, the CA DMV will send you a warning letter.

    Once you get within a single point of the revocation limit, the California DMV will send you a "Notice of Intent to Suspend," letting you know that you are close to losing your driver's license.

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

    Commercial Drivers in California

    If you're a commercial driver's license holder in California, you will incur points at 1 and 1/2 times the rate of a noncommercial driver.

    Clearing Your CA Driving 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 CA driving record:

    • Violations adding 1 point to your 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 your 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.

    If you find yourself with a traffic 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.

    Check the Status of Your CA Driver's License

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