The DMV Point System: Your Complete Guide to Driver’s License Points
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ annual report reveals that 827 people died on Virginia’s roadways in 2019. Additionally, 180 people sustain injuries daily in Virginia from traffic accidents. No wonder Virginia has put the hammer down on bad driving by instituting a point system.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about driver’s license points.
What Are Driver’s License Points?
The driver’s license points are both positive and negative in Virginia. When you first receive a Virginia driver’s license, you have zero points on your record. Every year that you have a clean record, you earn one positive point. You can earn up to five positive points. So if you have five years with no traffic violations, you will have a stacked record of positive points.
You can also earn five points by completing a driver improvement clinic, something that will help you improve your skills. There’s a downside to points as well. If local authorities convict you of any traffic violations, you receive demerit points. The amount of points you earn depends on the traffic law you violate. You can earn anywhere from three to six points with one single violation.
What Happens When You Break a Traffic Law?
There’s a basic process when authorities convict you of breaking a traffic law. The policeman will issue you a citation, and you will need to show up in court if you plan on fighting the citation. If you do not fight it, then the court will convict you of the said violation.
The court then notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV will post the conviction to your driving record and assign the appropriate demerit points to your record according to the offense. If you have accumulated enough points in a short enough time, the DMV will then suspend your license. If the violation requires it, the DMV may also issue an order that requires you to complete a driver improvement clinic.
You will still receive your negative points even if you complete this clinic, but the positive points received from the program may offset those negative points. The DMV may also notify your insurance company upon request. An insurance company will want to know that you’ve attended a driver improvement clinic. You’re proving your good faith as a driver if you do this, and they may lower your rates or just not raise them.
What is a Perfect Driving Record?
A perfect driving record in Virginia means you have a point score of zero or higher (i.e. +05). The points on license indicate the quality of the driver behind the license. So the score of zero or higher indicates that you have not had a traffic violation yet. If you have a single point, this means you’ve had an entire year of perfect driving.
Even if you have demerit points, they can go away. You can lose demerit points after a while. The points only stay on your record for a specific number of years. So if you wait out those years and have no violations, you can eventually get your point number back to zero or higher.
What is a Bad Driving Record?
A bad driving record means you have points on your record (i.e. -03). Authorities have convicted you of even minor violations that have led to a minimum of three points through the DMV point system. Basic accidents like a rear-end collision or t-bone accident can lead to a distressing accumulation of points.
What Type of Infractions Determine Points?
You can receive demerit points from any one of dozens of different infractions. The number of points you receive depends solely on the actual traffic violation. For example, a drunk driving penalty will lead to six points on driving record. Here’s a breakdown of how to earn anywhere from three to six points.
Any amount of reckless driving can lead to six points on your record. Reckless driving sticks. It will stay on your record for up to 11 years.
So if you speed over 80 mph or up to 20 mph above the speed limit, you receive six points. Each of the following violations leads to six points:
- Passing a school bus or emergency vehicle
- Passing on a hill or at a railroad crossing
- Passing two vehicles abreast or driving two vehicles abreast
- Driving too fast for the conditions
- Failing to give a proper signal
- General reckless driving
Speeding 20 mph over the speed limit will also earn you six points, but this violation stays on your record for just five years instead of eleven. If you decide to drink and drive, you’ll find yourself with six points on record pretty quickly as well. A DUI, be it with drugs or alcohol, will stay on your record eleven years. If you refuse the blood or breath test, you will end up with six points as well.
So think about this: if you refuse the breathalyzer but cause an accident because of your intoxication, you can accumulate up to twelve points with one accident. If your driving either maims or kills someone and you’re convicted of manslaughter, you will receive six points and have the points on your record for eleven years.
If you attempt to drive on a suspended or revoked license, you earn six points. These charges will also stick for eleven years. Failure to stop at the scene of a crash where persons are injured or where people die will also result in six points on your license.
Other less reckless forms of reckless driving will lead to four points. So if you fail to stop before you enter a highway or if you speed anywhere from ten to nineteen miles per hour above the speed limit, you will earn four points on your license. If you decide to pass when it’s not safe to pass or if you attempt to pass on the left of an approaching vehicle, you will earn four points. Failure to stop or yield or failing to stop for an emergency vehicle will lead to four points. Even if you fail to yield to a funeral possession, you can earn four points.
When you drive, you’re supposed to keep to the right. Failure to do so in Virginia, whether you’re on the highway, at an intersection, or on a traffic circle, will result in four demerit points. When you tailgate or fail to signal as you drive, you will earn four points. You can also earn four points for violations surroundings railroad crossing including not obeying the signal, not stopping at the grade crossing, not keeping to the right, or improperly operating the crawler-type tractor over the crossing.
When you attempt to drive with a suspended license and have a blood alcohol content of 0.2 percent or more, you earn four points. You can also earn four points if you pass a stopped school bus or fail to stop at the scene of an accident that deals with property damage. When you drive above the law and fail to obey a traffic signal or lane directional signals or markings, you receive four points.
Any amount of improper backing, stopping, or turning or driving the wrong way on a one-way street leads to a four-point violation. If you impede a funeral possession or ignore a police officer attempting to stop you, you lose four points. And if you ignore a crossing guard’s signal, you’ll find yourself with four points as well.
Lesser traffic violations earn you fewer points. But every violation in Virginia will earn you something. So if authorities catch you speeding anywhere from one to nine miles per hour over the speed limit, you will receive three points. You can also receive points for driving too slowly. If you impede traffic, you will receive three points. So stick within the speed limits.
If you pass a vehicle improperly or just drive improperly, you can earn three points. So if your vehicle drifts over the shoulder line, you’ll find three points on your record. If you decide to change course after signaling or if you even just coast with your gears in neutral, you will earn three points. And if you fail to give way to another vehicle, you will earn three points.
Driving through a safety zone or over a fire hose or on the sidewalk will also lead to three demerit points. Any improper turn or failure to obey highway signals gives you three negative points on your record. When you forget to turn on your headlights or you forget to dim your headlights, you earn this minimal amount of points as well. Parking without proper lights on or using inadequate hazard lights earns the same penalty.
If you forget your license at home or drive without a license plate, you earn three points. Commercial motor vehicle drivers are no exception to the rules. Driving a commercial vehicle without a license, with alcohol in your blood, or with more than one license will earn you three points. Transporting children without a seat belt on or even just driving a school bus without a license earns the same penalty.
When Do Points Automatically Fall Off?
Penalty points will remain on your license for a minimum of two years. Some of the harsher penalties like reckless driving might stick for up to eleven years. You can find out how many points on the license you have by visiting the Virginia DMV’s website.
How Do I Proactively Remove Points?
You can attempt to remove points proactively by protesting the traffic violation before it goes on your record. You can attend a safe driver’s course as well. You may have to do this anyway if you have a court-appointed order to do, but regardless, you can also voluntarily attend.
Either way, attending a class could help reduce the number of points on your license.
What Are the Penalties for the Different Level of Points?
There is no limit to the number of negative points you can accumulate. The number you accumulate in a short amount of time will lead to some stiff penalties. For example, if you accumulate twelve demerit points in twelve months or twenty-four in eighteen months, you go on probation. Probation lasts for six months. If you have any traffic violations while you’re on probation, the state will suspend your license. The type of points violations you accumulate determines the amount of time for which you lose your license.
A six-point demerit violation will earn you a ninety-day suspension. A four-point demerit violation leads to sixty days with a suspended license, and a three-point violation means forty-five days without your license.
If you make it through probation with no demerit point violations, the state will place you on an eighteen-month control period. If you slip up and break a traffic law again in that time frame, then you move back into probationary status for six months.You have one easy way to avoid a suspended license. Avoid probation. Demerit points can accumulate and sneak up on you.
For example, if you have zero points and then pay off three speeding tickets you received in a year, you go on probation.
What is a License Suspension?
License suspension does not mean license revoked. When the state suspends your drivers’ license, you lose it the privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a short period. You will get your license back if you do not break any laws during that suspension period.
How Can I Get My License Back?
You can get your license back with the right help. We can help with reinstating your license, and you can help yourself as well. We can represent you in court if you want to fight the traffic law violation charge. You can also attend a driver improvement clinic. Sometimes the court will order you to take the course anyway.
If the court charges you with a DUI, then you must complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. You will also have to complete an intervention interview with VASAP. You must pay the reinstatement fee of $40 to $220 depending on why you lost your license in the first place, and you will need to pay the licensing fee as well. Sometimes you’ll have to take an applicable knowledge and road skill test.
Keep Your Points at Zero
Virginia’s driver’s license points help maintain the peace and keep the safe drivers on the road and the dangerous drivers at home. Keep your points at zero to keep yourself on the road. If you’re having trouble with driver’s license points, contact us. We can help.