Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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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 Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Apr 13, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Points on your driver’s license can stay active for many years
  • You could have your driver’s license suspended if you get too many points on your record
  • Each state has their own system for points or recording violations but all states share reports

Understanding how DMV points work can be hard. Sometimes it seems as if these government systems are designed to confuse us. In reality, they are confusing because they were created and updated piecemeal as more driving issues came up.

Most states also try to be fair as they assign drivers points to their licenses, with many states cutting the points down by half after six months or a year without further infractions

The key to drivers license points is zero, that is how many points you start with on your driver record. Each state has their own point system based on the type of ticket or issue summons you received.

New York State Points for Speeding Over the Posted Limit

In New York State you can have your license suspended with only 11 points on your driving record. So, getting eight points for one ticket puts you very close to suspension numbers. In Alabama you can lose your license with 12 to 14 points on your record in a two-year span.

New York points for speeding by MPH over the posted limit:

  • One to 10 MPH = Three Points
  • 11 to 20 MPH = Four Points
  • 31 to 40 MPH = Eight Points

Alabama points for speeding by MPH over the posted limit:

  • One to 25 MPH = Two Points
  • 26 or more MPH = Five Points

Across the US states issue points for driving violations based on how serious they deem the violation. Speeding more than 30 MPH above the posted limit will always carry the most points and can carry more serious charges. Many states don’t assign points for non-moving violations.

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When Getting Another Ticket Can Affect Your Driving Ability

Time is another important factor to keep in mind when points are added to your license. You can only have so many in a year or several years, before facing some restriction, penalty, or losing your driver’s license.

  • Alaska. 12 points in one year or 18 points in two years
  • California. Six points in one year, eight points in two years, or 10 points in three years
  • Florida. 12 points in one year, 18 points in 18 months, or 24 points in three year

For these states, you could lose your license if you get multiple tickets over a certain period of time in addition to speeding in excess — normally 20 or more MPH over the posted speed.

Most states add your points when you plead guilty, no contest, or are found guilty in court. However, they are dated on your record the day you received the ticket. You will want to check with your own state to be sure of when your points were added to your license.

Some States Don’t Use the Point System

There are several states that do not assign actual points to driver’s license holders when they are ticketed. These states still record and report the violations in their drivers databases and share the information with other states.

Each non-point system state has its own formula, but each is loosely based on the points system used by most US states. In Massachusetts, one of the non-point system states, they use the word ‘surchargeable events’ for assigning a number demerit to a violation.

  • Three surchargeable events in two years
  • Seven surchargeable events in three years with three major violations
  • Or 12 major and/or minor violations in five years

Why States Give Points To Ticketed Drivers

The DMV point system came about as more people were driving and states needed ways to keep the roads safe. At the time there was nothing keeping a driver who had lost their driving privilege from going to a new state and getting a license to drive.

Now all states, even states without true point systems, share information. If you have points on your license or driving tickets in one state those will follow you to another state.

Several Federal agencies, working with state information, manage your records. 

  • Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) system
  • The National Driver Register (NDR)
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

You can learn more about these programs and find steps to getting your own records on the official NHTSA site. 

States already had systems in place to ticket drivers and revoke driving privileges. With the creation of the points system, a driver could be tracked by their tickets.

If you have ever gotten a ticket with points added to your license, you may hear people use the term “fall off.” With good driving over several months or years, the points you had against your license will be removed or “fall off.” In most cases you won’t be notified, they will just expire.

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Speeding and Other Driving Violations

Driving faster than the posted speed limit is by far the most common traffic violation. Studies by insurance companies estimate an astonishing 41 million speeding tickets are written each year. Points for speeding are always based on how much over the posted limit you were driving.

Each state has its own point system for speeding violations. But all states that assign points use a scale of how much over the speed limit you were driving to decide how many points you will receive.

Delaware highlights how this system works below:

  • 1 to 9 mph over the posted speed limit = 2 points with your citation
  • 15 to 19 mph over the limit = 5 points
  • Over 20 mph of the speed limit is also 5 points but carries a tougher charge

Many people think a simple speeding ticket is no big deal and simply pay the fine. But each one will add points to your license and could increase your auto insurance rates. If you just paid a ticket and have seen your insurance rates increase you should check out lower-cost options until the points fall off your license.

How Verbal and Written Traffic Tickets Works

When you get pulled over it can feel like a relief to be given just a warning. And, of course, it is far better than actually getting a ticket. But, all ticket warnings are not equal.

  • Verbal Warning
  • Written Warning
  • Minor Ticket — no points
  • Driving Violation Ticket — points added

If you get a verbal warning you can rest assured that the officer hasn’t added your information into the system permanently. They did, most likely, call in or put your information into their database. If you received only a verbal warning this information would be available to other officers for only a limited time, or perhaps not at all.

A traffic warning ticket is completely different in how long the information will be available. These types of tickets are often referred to as written warnings. How long the information will be in a system will depend on the city or state you are driving in, but it will show up for some time after you receive it.

Speeding warnings should be treasured like gifts since many states have increased their speeding fines and all on-duty officers could be aware of your warning. We can’t say for sure, but if you are pulled over again you most likely will get a ticket and not a second warning.

States Offer Help to Restore Your Driving Record

Many states offer programs to defer or lessen traffic ticket points or driving violations with points.

  • Defensive Driving Course (DDC)
  • Driver Improvement Program (DIP)
  • hardware monitors you add to your vehicle

Points on your driver’s license can increase your auto insurance rates. Insurance companies can do DMV points checks. This could cause your insurance to increase. Sometimes the increase can be small, but it is always a good idea to compare plans.