Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for CarInsuranceCompanies.com with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Aug 2, 2021

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Key takeaways...

  • The idea being the point system is to provide a safer environment for drivers and penalize drivers who do not obey state traffic laws including posted speed limits, rules of the road and activities at the scene of an accident
  • Each offense is given a point value where drivers have a maximum number of points (usually 12) before any threat of license suspension happens
  • The rules vary by state but most demerit points often fall off your driving record after 2 years

Almost all states have some form of driver license demerit point system. The idea being the point system is to provide a safer environment for drivers and penalize drivers who do not obey state traffic laws including posted speed limits, rules of the road and activities at the scene of an accident.

While the point system came under great controversy when first introduced it has now become a widely recognized method of keeping our roads safe.

The point system has several elements to it including a DMV driver license point system for mature drivers and young drivers. Make sure to compare rates with our free quote tool above! 

Newly licensed drivers often operate under a much tighter version of the standard DMV demerit point system but as time goes by and young drivers prove responsibility behind the wheel the normal DMV point system will apply.

What are driver license points?

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Basically, demerit points are awarded whenever a driver is ticked and convicted for driving violations, including failure to wear a seatbelt, right turn on a red light, speeding beyond posted limits, and reckless driving. This is just a partial list of some of the most common violations. For a complete list, check with your local DMV.

Driving offenses are given a point value where drivers have a maximum number of points (usually 12) before any threat of license suspension happens.

Non-moving violations, like parking tickets, do not carry points. However, DUIs and other serious traffic crimes usually result in the automatic suspension of driving privileges.

For ordinary infractions, drivers will usually receive a warning letter to let them know if their accumulated points are getting close to the number for suspension.

Car insurance companies, however, can raise your rates after a few points.

Some states do have laws which restrict car insurance companies from raising your insurance rate from a single traffic ticket; however, keep in mind many times drivers are often ticketed multiple times at the same stop.

However, if you are convicted of a DUI, you will be labeled a high-risk driver and your auto insurance rates will skyrocket.

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Does the point system work?

Yes. Studies show that the driver license point system plays a big role in helping reduce accidents and traffic violations and currently most states employ some kind of demerit point system to help track driving history of drivers.

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How many points do you have?

This is certainly one of the biggest misconceptions about the point system. Drivers do not have points – they accumulate them.

As a good driver with no demerit point offenses, your driving record will show zero points.

Only when you are convicted of a traffic offense do points actually get awarded to your drivers’ license. The easiest way to think about this is not as having points to lose but you can only accumulate so many.

How long do points stay on my driver record?

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This varies by state but most demerit points often fall off your driving record after 2 years. Every driver should contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles for particulars on demerit point systems in a particular state.

Some states will help you get the points off your record faster. Nevada, for instance, has a 5-hour course about traffic safety that will allow you to shave three points from your record. However, if you’re required to take the class as part of a plea bargain, no points will be removed from your record for attending.

Many states have some version of online traffic school, successful completion of which removes points from your license, so inquire about this at the DMV or when you go to court.

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DMV Driver License Point System Guide

Click your state below to learn more about driver license points and how accumulating points can affect your driving privileges and car insurance rates.