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Points on a license, explained

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    Scoring points is usually considered positive, but when it comes to your license and driving record, the opposite is true. Since points on a license are a record of your violations, it’s best to keep them as low as possible. Let’s learn a little more.

    When are driver’s license points given?

    Driver’s license points are given every time you commit certain serious traffic offenses. These points are tracked and given out by your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The number of points given to a particular offense depends on the severity of the offense as well as which state laws apply to your situation. 

    Violations that add points

    Violations that add points to your license tend to be moving violations for things like: 

    • Speeding
    • Texting while driving
    • At-fault accidents
    • Running a red light
    • Refusing to yield to emergency vehicles
    • Driving under the influence, and more

    Minor offenses like parking tickets or broken taillights don’t generally result in driver’s license points, though you’ll likely have to pay a fine or rectify the issue before the penalties start stacking up. Unpaid parking tickets, for instance, could result in your car getting the dreaded boot on its wheels or even impounded.

    Variations by state

    State laws can vary quite a bit, and each state has its own system of calculating and assigning points. There are even some states that don’t use a points system at all but hold drivers accountable in other ways. For specifics on which violations count and the number of points assigned to them, it's best to consult your local DMV.

    Potential consequences

    As mentioned above, accruing points on your license is a serious matter. If you hit your state’s DMV points threshold, you may find your license suspended or even revoked altogether.

    How to lower points on a license

    While driver’s license points should always be taken seriously, there is a bit of good news — they don’t last forever. The length of time those points remain on your license depends on your state and the nature of your violations. Something more serious like a hit-and-run, for instance, could take up to 10 years to clear from your record.

    Besides waiting for points to expire naturally, you could potentially remove points from your license by taking a defensive driving class or attending traffic school. If you believe you’ve been incorrectly assigned points, you can also try to contest the ticket. Bear in mind that regardless of whether this strategy works in your favor, you’ll likely be required to pay administrative fees to the court just for the option of contesting the ticket.

    In summary

    Whether it’s from a speeding ticket or a full-on accident, getting points on a license is worth taking seriously. Accumulating too many points on your license may have significant consequences. While the best practice would be to avoid accumulating points altogether through careful driving, there are some steps you can take to lower the points on your license if you do end up with some.

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