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 26, 2019

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The DMV point system is in place nationwide and a common question by many drivers is how long do points stay on your drivers’ license and do they affect car insurance rates? How points affect your drivers’ license and the length in which points stay on your driving record really depend on where you live.

Each state has different rules pertaining to the accumulation of points and how points translate to penalties. There are common features of all DMV point systems, however.

Points are not issued by car insurance companies but by your respective DMV who oversees drivers licensing. Demerit points can be accumulated for a wide number of reasons from not wearing a seatbelt to running a red light but as a rule of thumb almost any moving violation can result in some points to your drivers’ license.

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How does the DMV point system work?

There are 2 sets of point systems in America. Some states provide drivers with an allowance of points they can accumulate before any administrative action is taken on their drivers license (drivers start with zero points) while other states start every driver off with a number of points and you lose points for traffic convictions.

Essentially both systems work the same – one gives it, the other takes it away.

Driving is a privilege and the point system was introduced to help identify high-risk drivers and create safer roads. There is no question the point system has proven to be a success although discussions of a national point system continually break down.

The difference in traffic laws, software systems and the implementation of a national point system are problems that only a government can discuss for a decade and still not resolve.

However, the lack of a national system also provides some advantages where depending on the state you were ticketed may not share data with your home state.

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How do I accumulate demerit points?

Demerit points are accrued anytime a driver is convicted of a traffic violation with the exception of parking tickets. Basically, any moving violation can equal points on your drivers’ license.

The number of points vary by what type of violation with speeding, running a red light, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to stop for a school bus all on the list of infractions with a very high point value.

Most states use a 12 point system where your drivers’ license will automatically be suspended if you happen to accrue 12 points within a certain period of time (usually a 12 month period) but every state has a different system. Learn more with our state DMV point system guide here.

How long do points stay on your driver’s license?

Points can stay on a drivers record for anywhere between 12 and 24 months depending on state laws however the incident record can stay on your record for up to 10 years. Think of how points affect your car insurance rates much like a late payment on a credit report.

Any kind of late payments within the last year or two may be considered negative by lenders but the older the payment the less relevance it has. Driving points are like this – the points disappear relatively soon but the incident record stays around for longer.

Car insurance companies generally extend the highest preferred risk discounts to drivers with a clean driving record for three years. While there are some insurers who look back 5 years most only look at the last 36 months.

Will a speeding ticket affect my car insurance rates?

Yes and no. Some car insurance companies overlook a single speeding ticket for non-excessive speeds while others are more conservative and only discount drivers with an absolutely clean driving record.

It really depends on your overall risk profile as s driver, the particular car insurance company and whether or not you are an existing policyholder.

Can I still find affordable car insurance with points on my license?

Yes. While points certainly contribute to maintaining your driving privileges there are also some traffic offenses which accumulate points but not considered high risk by car insurance companies.

The DMV point system and car insurance companies are separate of one another and your risk profile will be calculated using a number of variables. The exact amount of points is hardly ever a question but rather an analysis of your convicted offenses.

What point value is awarded from a traffic offense is not really relative to auto insurance unless your license becomes suspended – it’s what you were convicted for.

Affordable auto insurance is readily available for most drivers and all it takes is a car insurance comparison search online to compare companies and find the best rates.

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