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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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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2022

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  • In most states, the DMV documents moving traffic violations with a points system
  • If you acquire too many points, the state can suspend your license
  • You can eliminate points on your driver’s license by avoiding infractions within a certain time frame

Has someone ever inquired as to whether you had points on your driver’s license and you had no idea what they were referring to? Well, in most states across the country, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses a point system to document traffic violations. The DMV also uses these points to encourage drivers to follow the rules of the road and to discourage poor driving habits. If you acquire a certain number of points on your license, the state can suspend or even revoke your driving privileges. 

What is the driving points system?

The DMV uses a point system to improve driving habits, encourage good driving, and keep reckless drivers with frequent infractions off the road. Various types of moving violations equal a different number of points. They can remain on your record for some time. Something like a speeding ticket won’t accrue as many points as a DUI offense, which could result in a license suspension. The greater the risk associated with the infraction, the more points it will accrue.

Law enforcement officers have the authority to issue tickets and apply points to your license. If it’s your first offense, they can decide whether or not to let you off with a warning, to give you a citation, or to issue you a ticket and points. But the amount of points varies depending on where you live.

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Does every state have a DMV point system?

Although the number of points accrued for certain violations varies by state, not all states follow a point system. There are nine states that don’t employ a license point system but still monitor and penalize drivers for too many traffic tickets. Those states include:

  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

How do you get points on your driver’s license?

There are many ways to accumulate points on your license, but not all traffic violations result in added points. For example, parking tickets usually don’t incur points in most states. But you’ll still have to pay the ticket if you don’t want to face further penalties. On the other hand, most moving violations can result in the addition of points to your driver’s license. Something like driving five miles over the speed limit might be worth two points. Yet, a more serious crime, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, can be worth as much as six points or more depending on the severity of the infraction.

There are many different ways to earn points. Here’s a list of the most common ways that drivers acquire points on their license:

  • Speeding (1 to 25 mph over the speed limit)
  • Speeding (26 or more mph over the speed limit)
  • Failure to use a turn signal
  • Failure to obey traffic signs (e.g., traffic light, stop sign, yield sign)
  • Passing a stopped school bus dropping off children
  • Illegal passing
  • Driving under the influence
  • Driving with an open alcohol container
  • Texting and driving

How many points can I get until my license is suspended?

Since every state that uses the points system has different rules, the same violation in New York might equal a different number of points than it would in California. It’s the same for the number of points you can have on your driver’s license until the state suspends it. It differs depending on where you reside, so we’ve created a table with the number of points required for suspension and the length of suspension for each state.

State Points Required for Suspension Suspension Period/Penalty
Alabama 12-14 points within a 2-year period 60 days
Alaska 12 points in 12 months or 18 points in 24 months Varies
Arizona 8 or more points within 12 months Traffic School (or mandatory suspension)
Arkansas 14 points within 12 months Varies
California 4 points within 12 months 6 months
Colorado 12 points within 12 months or 18 points within 24 months 6 months to a year
Connecticut 10 points within 12 to 24 months 30 days
Delaware 14 points within 12 to 24 months 120 days
District of Columbia 8 to 11 points 90 days
Florida 12 points within 12 months 30 days
Georgia 15 points within 24 months Varies
Hawaii Doesn’t use a point system N/A
Idaho 12 to 17 points 30 days
Illinois 15 points 60 days
Indiana 20 points 30 days
Iowa 7 to 8 points 2 years
Kansas Doesn’t use a point system N/A
Kentucky 12 points within 24 months Varies
Louisiana Doesn’t use a point system N/A
Maine 12 points within 12 months 15 days
Maryland 8 points Varies
Massachusetts Doesn’t use a point system N/A
Michigan 12 points Possible suspension and retake driver’s test
Minnesota Doesn’t use a point system N/A
Mississippi Doesn’t use a point system N/A
Missouri 8 points 30 days
Montana 15 points within 36 months 6 months
Nebraska 12 points within 12 months 6 months
Nevada 12 points within 12 months 6 months
New Hampshire 12 points within 12 months 3 months
New Jersey 12 points within 12 months Varies
New Mexico 12 points within 12 months 1 year
New York 11 points within 18 months Varies
North Carolina 12 points within 36 months 60 days
North Dakota 12 points 7 days for each point over 11
Ohio 12 points in 24 months 6 months
Oklahoma 10 points within five years 30 days
Oregon Doesn’t use a point system N/A
Pennsylvania 11 points 5 days per point over 10
Rhode Island Doesn’t use a point system N/A
South Carolina 12 points 3 months
South Dakota 15 points in 12 months 60 days
Tennessee 12 points within 12 months Varies
Texas Four moving violations in 12 months Varies
Utah 200 points in 36 months 3 months
Vermont 10 points in 24 months Satisfy reinstatement requirements
Virginia 18 points in 12 months 90 days
Washington Doesn’t use a point system N/A
West Virginia 12 points in 24 months 30 days
Wisconsin 12 points 6 months
Wyoming Doesn’t use a point system N/A

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Do points expire?

The good news is that points on your driver’s license do eventually expire. In Pennsylvania, points remain on your license for at least a year. If you have no traffic violations and your license isn’t currently suspended, the DMV will take off three points every 12 months. So, if you’re bordering on enough points for a suspension in your state, you’ll want to abide by the rules. The more points you have, the more serious the penalties will be.

Do car insurance companies follow the point system?

Another concern that you might have is whether or not too many points on your license can raise insurance rates. The good news is that auto insurance companies don’t use license points to directly determine your rates. Unfortunately, they still review your driving history, which indicates that they will consider past incidents, accidents, and violations when calculating the cost of your coverage. If they deem you a high-risk driver, your premiums will be more expensive.

How can I find out if there are points on my license?

It’s easy to determine whether or not your license has points on it. You can find out by visiting your state motor vehicle agency’s website and looking for a link to the driver’s license status page. It will request some information, including your name, birthdate, and driver’s license number. Then, you should be able to see whether or not you have any license points.