By: Gregory Rollins
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Understanding the California DMV Point System
Most California drivers are familiar with the point system, since points on a driver’s record will cause insurance rates to increase. But points may also affect the retention of your license. Depending upon the number of points a driver racks up, the DMV has the authority to suspend an individual’s license, or place the driver on “probation” for a fixed period of time, during which any additional points earned by that driver will lead to license suspension or even revocation.
The Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) is a program created by the DMV to keep so-called “negligent motor vehicle operators” off the roads. NOTS is based on assigning “points” over time to every California license holder for traffic offense violations to identify careless or negligent drivers. Basically, the NOTS system operates this way: Citations and other traffic offenses, known as “moving violations” are assigned a fixed number of points. As a driver commits various violations, these points will show up on his or her record.
Below you will find the basic information you need to know about the DMV point system in California along with common violations that could result in a suspension of your driver’s license.
What is the California DMV Point System?
Points are assigned for accidents and traffic tickets. The DMV will assign points to your record once it receives a notice of violation from the court or notice of an accident you were in some way responsible for from law enforcement. Drivers who accumulate four points in one year, six points over the course of two years, or eight points over the course of three years will have their licenses suspended.
Some or all of your driving privileges may be revoked or suspended in California if:
- You receive 4 points or more within 12 months
- You receive 6 points or more within 24 months
- You receive 8 points or more within 36 months
Common CA DMV Point Violations
For convicted traffic infractions, drivers will have points placed on their driver license record depending on the severity of the infraction. Note that if you are driving a commercial vehicle when you are cited, the points are worth 1.5 times the standard point amount.
For a full list of violations, please visit the California DMV’s point schedule.
- Running a red light
- Making an unsafe lane change
- Having an at-fault accident
The California DMV will put one point on your driver’s license record if they find out about an out-of-state traffic ticket you received.
- Reckless driving
- Driving while suspended or revoked
- Driving over 100 mph
- Evading law enforcement
- Transporting explosives
- Hit and run collisions in which the result was damage to property or physical injury
- Operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license
Drivers under 18 years old will suffer more severe penalties for a traffic infraction. In California, a minor’s provisional license may be:
- Suspended if you receive:
- 3 points within 12 months.
- A traffic conviction and fail to pay the required fines.
- Restricted for 30 days if you receive 2 points within 12 months.
- Suspended for 1 year for the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Penalty is for individuals between the ages of 13 and 21 years old.
How Long Do Points Stay On My DMV Record?
The points stay on your records for different time periods depending on the seriousness of your violation.
Here are some examples of the length of time that points stay on your record:
- Most one-point traffic violation such as speeding or making an unsafe lane change will remain of record for 3 years.
- If you are involved at an accident and it is determined that you were at fault, the negative points remain of record for 3 years.
- Most serious convictions such as DUI conviction or hit and run will remain on your record for 10 years.
Removing Points from Your California Driving Record
Most drivers strive to remove points from their record. Basically, the answer is time.
As long as you keep a clean driving record for a designated amount of time, your points will be automatically cleared. Violations that add one point to a driving record will be cleared after 39 months. Points for serious violation such as DUIs or hit and run incidents will stay on the violator’s record for at least ten years.
Failure to appear in court for any traffic violation will result in the points remaining on your driver’s record for five additional years. Failure to appear in court for a DUI will keep points on your record for an additional 10 years.
Of course, there are simple yet effective methods of avoiding court and beating your infraction. This will also remove your accumulated points, if successful. On the other hand, if you have more time and an eligible traffic citation, you may be able to attend a California traffic class which can help dismiss your ticket, remove points, or earn auto insurance discounts.
For some traffic infractions in California, you may be able to attend a CA traffic school, also referred to as defensive driving, which can help you:
- Have a ticket dismissed
- Avoid adding points to your record
- Potentially earn an auto insurance discount
Make sure to check with the traffic school about specific details on how passing a course could help you clear your record.
Checking Your Driving Points
- In person: you can make a request for your driver record in person at your local DMV office. There is a $5 fee. Your local DMV office accepts cash.
- Online: You can check online by registering as a certified online user with the California DMV and making a DMV Driver Record Request. There is a $2 fee, and as stated on that page, “Please ensure that your printer is ready and able to print your Driver Record printout as you will only have one opportunity to print your record after your fee is paid.”
For more information about becoming a certified user with the DMV in order to request your DMV Driver Record online, see DMV FAQ regarding DMV Online Service Accounts.
- By mail: To request an official copy of your driver record by mail, fill out form INF1125(PDF) and mail it to the DMV Headquarters address on the form along with a check or money order for the $5 fee.
Should You Speak with an Attorney?
If you are in need of excellent representation to remove points from your DMV record, contact The Law Office of Gregory Rollins now to set up a free consultation.
Criminal defense attorney and former Riverside County prosecutor Gregory Rollins uses his unique experience and expertise to defend the rights of the accused, provide meaningful legal advice to his clients, and to fight for the best possible outcome for every client in every case.