Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2019

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Having inexpensive car insurance or being able to get insurance at all is somewhat of a privilege, just like driving. Only drivers with clean records have access to the best auto insurance rates.

However the difficulty involved in getting affordable insurance, and the chance of having car insurance canceled increases with each point a driver accumulates on his record.

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The Point System

Either the courts or the Department of Motor Vehicles can temporarily take away an individual’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle. Each state uses a point system to penalize drivers for different violations. Each type of traffic offense has its own point rating, depending on the seriousness of the offense.

In addition, each state places limits on how many points a driver can accumulate before their license is suspended.

Using the state of California as an example, the process may go as follows. A driver who receives multiple points on his record for speeding tickets may be classified as a negligent driver with the possibility of having his license suspended. This is not automatic, however, the driver will be required to go in front of a judge to have his driving record reviewed.

If a driver gets four points on his record in 12 months, six points within 24 months or eight points within 36 months, he is subject to possible license suspension.

Speeding Tickets

Simple speeding tickets are worth one point, and drivers can attend traffic school once every 18 months in California, in order to keep the point from going on their driving record. In addition, points for simple speeding tickets will come off of the driver’s record after three years.

It is important to note that in any state, speeding violations receive a different number of points based on how many miles over the speed limit a driver was going. In California, drivers will receive one point for traveling up to 20 miles over the speed limit, however, they will receive two points if the officer feels they were driving recklessly or if they were exceeding 100 mph.

Car Accidents

Similar to speeding tickets, minor accidents have a point value and once a driver is convicted, they will receive one or more points on their record. Drivers might be ticketed for an action of theirs that led to an accident, for example tailgating, which is worth one point on a driver’s record.

Some of the accident-related offenses worth two points in California are evading a peace officer with reckless driving, or reckless driving and causing bodily injury or death.

Additionally, hit-and-run accidents or vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence are also both worth two points in California.

DUI (Driving under the Influence)

A DUI conviction comes with a substantial list of penalties. Typically, convicted drivers immediately lose their license and get two points on their record. Drivers can request a hearing within the first 10 to 15 days after their conviction to try and get their license back.

Drivers can also receive one point on their record if they are arrested for defeating their ignition interlock device, or if they get caught while driving on a revoked or suspended license.

Any underage driver with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent will be arrested and given two points, even though he does not have a high enough blood alcohol level to be charged with a DUI.

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Effects on Car Insurance

It is difficult to tell when an insurance company will cancel a driver’s policy, since each company has its own complex methods for evaluating the risk of each driver. A driver’s record is the largest single factor that is considered when insurers decide whether to cancel a policy or not.

It is worth noting that this applies to everyone on a specific policy, so even if mom or dad is a good driver, the policy could get canceled if the kids are on the same policy, and get caught too many times for driving violations.

Usually, an insurance company will review a driver’s record at each policy renewal period to re-evaluate his or her risk profile.

Auto insurance companies will cancel a driver’s policy for a license suspension or suspended vehicle registration. If a driver has speeding tickets, a DUI or accidents (but still retains his license) there is a good chance his car insurance company will not immediately cancel the policy.

In this case, it might be wise if an individual starts shopping around for a new auto insurance company so he can get accepted with an insurer who knows his complete driving record.

The reason is that if an insurer cancels an individual’s policy he will then be considered a high-risk driver, which will increase the price he pays for insurance in the future, more than it may have already increased because of his current driving history.

Another scenario is where an insurer will not cancel a policy, but will wait until the renewal period comes up, and then choose not to renew the policy because of those excessive tickets, accidents or a DUI.

The only consolation is that if the insurance company chooses not renew, a driver will not automatically be considered high-risk since insurers can choose not to renew for a variety of reasons. This means he will still possibly be able to find insurance elsewhere at a reasonable price.

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