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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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

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 Laura Walker

UPDATED: Apr 25, 2022

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In an effort to curb reckless and dangerous driving habits, many states have instituted a “demerit point system” which allow the state to assess points on a driver’s license for traffic violations.

These points are cumulative and can affect auto insurance rates, as well as eventually cost the driver his or her license when sufficient points are assessed.

In some states, such as Virginia, demerit points are not the only “points” assessed on the license. In Virginia, safe drivers also earn “safe driving points,” which can be used to offset demerit points.

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How does the Point System work?

The point system works in one of three ways in most states. The courts may have control over the points, the DMV may control this assessment, or the state may use a slightly different system.

It is important to know how your state’s point system operates if you are concerned about points affecting your insurance rates, as there may be things you can do to have the points removed.

If the courts control the assessment of points, a judge can void the points if the driver appears in court and asks for this to be done. This is up to the judge’s discretion and often depends on whether the driver has had another moving violation in the past three to six years.

If the driver has a clean record and is willing to pay the full fine, many judges will offer a first-time “point vacancy.” The conviction still stays on the driver’s record, but the points are not reported to the DMV.

In this case, the conviction will probably not affect the driver’s insurance rates, as insurance companies use the DMV records to determine rates for driving records.

On the other hand, in some states the courts do not have control over the point system. These states allow the DMV to assess points administratively, and there is nothing the driver can do short of an administrative hearing to remove those points from the license.

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How many points do you get for a moving violation?

Most point systems grade offenses with a certain number of points.

For example, the state might assess three points for a speeding ticket that is less than 20 mph over the speed limit, four points for a faster speeding violation, and six points for a DUI or other serious driving conviction, especially one that results in an accident.

A certain accumulation of points will result in higher auto insurance premiums and may build toward a license suspension.

Most states also allow points to “disappear” after a certain amount of time has passed since the conviction. However, most states also assess higher points for subsequent traffic violations within a certain time period.

As an example, let us look at Virginia’s system. Virginia is a DMV-point state, so appearing in court will not change the assessment of points, although it may affect the fine that is assessed.

The Virginia DMV assesses both positive and negative points, so if you have a good driving record, you have accumulated “positive points.”

A good driving record means no moving violations within a certain time frame. However, if you are given a speeding ticket, those negative points are added to the total, which may bring you to a negative balance of points.

This is then reported on your driving record each year to your insurance carrier, so that you may face higher premiums, especially if you have two or more speeding tickets in a short time period.

On the other hand, Georgia’s system operates only on negative points, but the courts have control over the points assessed.

Therefore, if you receive a speeding ticket and appear in court to address it, the judge will often take the points “off your license,” meaning that they will not be reported to the DMV.

However, if you have several violations in a short time, the judge may refuse to remove the points.

How long do points remain on your drivers license?

Points remain on your license for a given amount of time set by law or DMV policy. While every state is different, most states have different time periods for points to stay on your record, depending on the severity of the offense.

There are some states which have violations that will carry points that never disappear from your license, such as a DUI which results in an accident.

If you are curious as to what your particular state’s policy is regarding points and how long they stay on your record, and what you can do to have them removed, review your state’s DMV web site.

You can also talk to a traffic lawyer if you receive a violation and are concerned that the points may affect your license or insurability.

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  3. How long do points stay on your drivers license?
  4. California DUI Laws