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: Feb 17, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Most states use a point system to keep track of driving infractions and traffic violations
  • States that use a point system each decide how long points stay on your license differently
  • Points typically stay on your license for a year or two, but insurance companies generally look at three to five years of your driving record to determine your rate

It’s a universal fact of life — mistakes happen. That’s especially true while driving when there are so many opportunities for distraction. From zoning out during your home commute and running a stop sign to speeding to an appointment you’re running late for, most drivers have an incident on their record.

No matter how unintended the mistake was, it can have serious consequences. Most states keep track of traffic incidents by using a point system. Even minor incidents that don’t cause an accident will earn you points. If you get too many points, you might lose your license.

Avoiding incidents is crucial to keeping points off your record. Not only do you risk your ability to drive, but even a single point can make the price of your car insurance skyrocket.

However, getting points on your record isn’t the end of your driving career. They usually fall off your record after a year or two.

So, how long do points stay on your license?

Each state is different, and insurance companies tend to look at points longer than the DMV. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool if you need to find affordable insurance, even if you have points on your record.

What is the DMV points system?

Except for a few, most states use a points system to track driver traffic violations. That includes speeding, running lights, car accidents, and DUIs. Minor incidents, like failure to use your turn signal or light speeding, might be worth as few as one point.

Major violations, like reckless driving, excessive speeding, or DUI, can be worth more than 10. Points are only assigned to traffic violations, so you won’t get points for parking tickets. However, you can get points for not wearing your seatbelt in New York. Some states will give you points for using your cell phone.

Each state that uses a point system limits how many points you can accumulate within a specific time frame before you face consequences.

How many points do you start with on your driver record?

Zero — but new drivers should work hard to avoid points. Most states limit how many points you can get as a new driver.

Accumulating too many points can result in the following:

  • Suspension or revocation of your license
  • Less leniency in future traffic court appointments
  • A high-risk designation with insurance companies

While most states use a point system, nine don’t. Those states give out suspensions by counting the number and severity of violations.

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How many points can you get on your license?

Each state considers points differently. Check the graph below for more information about how many points you can get on your license.

StateMinor violationMajor violationPoints to get suspended
Alabama2612 to 14 points in 2 years
Alaska21012 points in 12 months, 18 points in 24 months
Arizona288 points in 12 months
Arkansas2814 points total
California124 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, 8 points in 36 months
Colorado41212 points in 12 months, 18 points in 24 months
Connecticut1510 points in 24 months
Delaware2614 points in 24 months
Florida3612 points in 12 months, 18 points in 18 months, 24 points in 36 months
Georgia1615 points in 24 months
Idaho1412 points in 12 months, 18 points in 24 months, 24 points in 36 months
Illinois5553 violations in 12 months
Indiana282 violations in 12 months
Iowa263 violations in 12 months
Kentucky3612 points in 24 months
Maine2812 points in 12 months
Maryland1128 points in 24 months
Massachusetts25Various violations
Michigan2612 points in 24 months
Missouri31212 points in 12 months, 18 points in 24 months, 24 points in 36 months
Montana21530 points in 36 months
Nebraska11212 points in 24 months
Nevada1812 points in 12 months
New Hampshire2612 points in 12 months, 18 points in 24 months, 24 points in 36 months
New Jersey2812 points total
New Mexico287 points in 12 months
New York21111 points in 18 months
North Carolina1512 points in 36 months
North Dakota12412 points total
Ohio2612 points in 24 months
Oklahoma1410 points in 60 months
Pennsylvania256 points total
Rhode IslandN/AN/AN/A
South Carolina2612 points in 12 months
South Dakota21015 points in 12 months, 22 points in 24 months
Tennessee1812 points in 12 months
Texas236 points in 36 months
Utah3580200 points in 36 months
Vermont2810 points in 24 months
Virginia3618 points in 12 months, 24 points in 24 months
West Virginia2812 points in 24 months
Wisconsin2612 points in 12 months
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As you can see from above, states treat points quite differently. Some states allow the accumulation of several points before you can lose your license, while others are much stricter.

How long do points stay on your license?

While getting points on your license should be avoided, they don’t stay on your license forever. Each state has its own policy about how long points remain on your license.

StateLength of time
Alabama24 months
Alaska2 points after 12 months without incident
Arizona12 months
Arkansas36 months
California36 months for minor violations 10 years for major violations
ColoradoDo not expire
Connecticut24 months
DelawareHalf value after 12 months
Florida60 months
Georgia24 months
Idaho36 months
Illinois4 years for minor violations, 7 years for major violations
Indiana24 months
Iowa5 years for minor violations, 12 years for DUI
Kentucky24 months
Maine12 months
Maryland24 months
Massachusetts72 months
Michigan24 months
Missouri36 months
Montana36 months
Nebraska60 months
Nevada12 months
New Hampshire36 months
New Jersey3 points deducted every year without incident
New Mexico12 months
New York18 months
North Carolina36 months
North Dakota1 point every 3 months
Ohio24 months
Oklahoma2 points every 12 months
Pennsylvania3 points every 12 months
Rhode IslandN/A
South CarolinaReduced to half value after 12 months
South DakotaBased on violation
Tennessee24 months
Texas36 months
Utah36 months
Vermont24 months
Virginia24 months
West Virginia24 months
WisconsinDepends, but usually 60 months
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One thing to note is that the lengths of time that points and infractions stay on your license are different. For example, points expire after five years in Florida, but a DUI remains on your record for 75 years.

Some states allow you to remove points from your record without waiting. These point-reduction programs usually require that you take a driver education class. Additionally, the DMV limits how many times you can use a point-reduction program.

You’ll also have to pay for the cost of your class out-of-pocket. If you need to know more about point-reduction programs in your state, check with your DMV.

How do points affect your insurance rates?

Most insurance companies don’t use the number of points on your license to calculate your rates, but for all intents and purposes, they might as well.

The same traffic incidents that add points to your license also increase your insurance rates. Insurance companies treat incidents on your driving record differently, but you can get an idea of how much your rates will go up by looking at national averages.

ViolationPercentage rate increasedMonthly price increase
At-fault accident42%$51
Reckless driving70%$86
Refuse a breathalyzer74%$90
Hit and run82%$100
Run a red light22%$27
Using a cell phone19%$24
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It’s imperative that you avoid negative driving incidents if you want affordable insurance. However, you can find high-risk insurance companies that will work with you no matter how bad your history is.

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Find the Best Car Insurance for You

While you should always avoid adding points to your record, mistakes happen. Your points will eventually fall off, and with a little searching, you can find car insurance that works with a negative driving history.

While the time you’re stuck with points is set, your insurance rates aren’t. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what quotes might look like for you, regardless of how many points you have.