Getting your driver’s license in the USA can be an exciting time. This makes it easier to get around than ever before and offers you the freedom to travel as you please. In fact, each year in the USA, drivers take more than 108 billion weekend and holiday trips.
However, having your own license also comes with a lot of responsibilities. You have a duty to yourself, your passengers, and other road users to follow national and local road laws. Breaking these laws, even by a small margin, could result in you getting driver’s license points.
The point system for drivers’ licenses can also have a huge impact on the cost of your insurance. So how and why can having points on your license affect your insurance? If you want to keep your insurance costs low, you need to know how license points affect you.
You’ve come to the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about driver’s license points and how they could affect your insurance.
Table of Contents
What Are Driver’s License Points?
There are currently 221.7 million licensed drivers across the United States. By having a license, even if you don’t use it often, you agree to follow the national and state laws for road users.
Breaking these laws, intentionally or accidentally, may result in a severe penalty. These penalties can include having your license suspended or revoked, paying a fine, or facing jail time.
In less severe circumstances, you may receive driver’s license points. These are penalty points that are awarded to your license if you are convicted of a driving offense. You may only receive points, or you may also receive a fine, depending on your offense.
Driver’s license points are usually awarded in groups of two, three, or four, depending on which state you live in. When a member of the police or insurance company looks at your driving record, they will be able to see how many points you have. So this also acts as a record of your driving history.
Most states allow you to continue driving with a few points during a given period of time. If you collect too many points, your license may be suspended. For example, if you collect twelve or more driver’s license points during a year, then you may face a license suspension.
However, even before your license gets suspended, driver’s license points can affect your experience as a driver. It can have a serious impact on the cost of your car insurance premiums. This is why it’s important to understand how you could end up with points on your driver’s license.
So how do you get points on your driver’s license? Well, lots of different infractions of roadway laws in America can result in you getting points on your license. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.
Getting a parking ticket will never be a good part of your day, especially if you violated parking regulations accidentally. You can receive a parking ticket if:
- You park in a no-parking zone
- You do not display a valid parking ticket where required
- You do not display a disability badge or parker’s permit where required
- You do not pay the necessary parking charges
This is why it is important to check carefully for any parking restrictions before you leave your car. Some restrictions, such as not parking in front of a dipped-curb, are harder to spot than others, and you may not see a sign posted.
You can resolve a parking fine, either by paying it on time or by contesting it. Either way, you will need to do this by a deadline.
Getting a parking ticket won’t automatically result in you getting points on your license. However, if your violation is for an expired inspection sticker, revoked insurance, or revoked registration you may receive points on your license depending on the state you are licensed in.
Every year, police issue nearly 41 million speeding tickets to drivers across America. Driving too fast is a major cause of injuries and deaths on America’s roadways, so the penalties for speeding are often harsh. This is to deter drivers from breaking the speed limit in the first place.
Speed restrictions on different roads and across state lines may vary. So it is important to familiarize yourself with the roads before driving down them.
How many points do you get on your driver’s license for speeding? Well, this depends on where you are and how fast you’re going.
In New York, for example, breaking the speed limit by up to 10 MPH will result in 3 points. Breaking it by 21 to 30 MPH will result in 4 points. Breaking the speed limit by a lot or doing it in a built-up area is also likely to result in more points on your license.
It is also important to note that you can receive speeding tickets for driving dangerously slowly as well on certain roads.
Being Involved in a Car Accident
Around 6 million accidents take place every year in the United States. These result in serious personal injuries and damage to property. Fortunately, there are plenty of legal procedures in place to get justice for those harmed in car accidents.
If you cause an accident, then you will most likely face a penalty. This will depend a lot on the severity of an accident.
If a court finds you guilty of causing a serious accident, you may face a license suspicion, fine, and even jail time. A judge will also look at how much damage an accident could have potentially caused.
More minor incidents won’t always come with a license suspension. But they will almost always come with driver’s license points. The more severe the accident, the more points you will get.
However, to get points on your license, a court usually has to decide that the accident is your fault. You will not get points on your license simply for being involved in an accident on the road.
Being found guilty of causing an accident usually means that you broke road use laws or were driving recklessly. This leads us to our next point.
A conviction for reckless driving, no matter which state you live in, is a serious matter in America. This is a major traffic violation that you can be convicted of if you are driving in a manner that is reckless or dangerous to yourself and other road users.
Causes of reckless driving can include:
- Driving while impaired, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving against the instructions of a medical professional
- Driving without having had enough sleep or while unwell
- Using your mobile phone while driving
- Allowing distractions in your car while you are driving
Any of these factors can result in you not focusing properly while on the road. Because of this, they significantly increase the risk of you hurting yourself, your passengers, or other people on the road.
You can get a conviction for reckless driving even if you do not cause any damage while behind the wheel. Simply posing a threat to other users is enough to earn you a harsh penalty.
First, offenders will receive points on their license as well as a fine. In some serious cases, drivers may face a full license suspicion immediately.
Driving Without Insurance
Whether you’re driving a regular car, a classic collector’s item, or a motorbike on the road, you must have insurance. This covers yourself, your vehicle, and any other vehicles that you might damage while on the road.
This is because most road users would not be able to cover the cost of an auto accident without financial support. Even if you are very well off, you need insurance to drive legally. The only states that exempt drivers from having insurance are New Hampshire and Virginia.
Suppose you do not have valid insurance coverage while on the road, you will receive points on your license. You may also face:
- A fine
- Time in jail
- Suspension of your license or registration plates
- Having your vehicle impounded
- Court fees
- Fees for the reinstatement of your license
Once you do get car insurance, you may also have to file an SR-22. This is a form that proves to the state that you have got proper insurance coverage before you are allowed back on the road.
As with most driving offenses, these penalties will be more severe for repeat offenders.
Driving Without the Correct License
It goes without saying that you should not be driving if you don’t have a license. That said, 1 in 10 drivers in the United States do just that, and this comes with its own penalties.
However, obviously, you cannot get points on a license if you do not have one in the first place. But some vehicles require specific licenses and training. Driving without one of these could result in you getting points added to your license.
The type of license you need usually depends on the size of the vehicle that you are driving.
Motorbikes, for example, require their own licenses and insurance. Or, in Alaska, you need a special license to drive commercial vehicles weighing more than 26,000 lb. These vehicles also usually need their own commercial insurance as well.
How to Check If You Have Any License Points
It’s important to know how many points you have on your license, as these may affect your insurance and ability to apply to certain jobs. Finding out whether or not you have points on your license is relatively simple.
You can visit the Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV) website and log in with your vehicle details. This website tells you who a vehicle is registered to and lets you check your driving history report.
To view your points, click on the “driver’s license check” page. This should display the most up-to-date information on your license.
If there is an issue with the page or you cannot find what you’re looking for, you can also contact the DMV directly. You may need to submit a written request about your license or fill in a form.
Checking this regularly will also help you to spot any problems. If you are going to receive points on your license, you should receive a notification about this before it happens. If someone adds points to your license without telling you, you should flag this up immediately.
How Many Points Are You Allowed on Your Driver’s License?
Driver’s license points are there to act as a deterrent for bad driving. This means that you cannot simply keep collecting them. Once you have a certain number of points, a court may fine you or suspend your license for a certain period of time.
This depends slightly on where you live. Most states follow one of two license suspension structures.
The first is to award two or more points for each traffic violation, along with other penalties. These accumulate over a year-long period. If you collect four or more points in these states, you will usually face license suspension.
However, some states will award more points for more serious traffic violations. These states allow you to get more points on your license, but this is stretched over a long period of time.
In some states, it is possible to avoid getting points on your license by going to traffic-awareness courses instead. Other states also reward good behavior, so it is always worth exploring your options before accepting points on your license.
How Do Driver’s License Points Affect You in Each State?
To understand how driver’s license points affect you in each state, let’s take a closer look at each state’s laws. The following states don’t use license points systems:
- Rhode Island
The following states suspend licenses with 12+ points collected on them within a 1-year period:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio suspend licenses that get 12+ points on them within two years. North Carolina allows a three-year period.
Outside of this:
- Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, and Illinois suspend licenses with 14+ points on them
- California allows up to 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months
- Colorado, Connecticut, and Vermont allow up to 9 points on a driver’s license before suspension
- Florida suspends the license of anyone who accumulates 18+ points in 18 months
- Indiana suspends licenses with 20+ points on them
- Missouri suspends licenses with 8+ points on them in 18-months
- Montana will revoke licenses with 30+ points on them in 3 years
- New York suspended licenses with 11+ points on them over an 18-month period
- Oklahoma suspends licenses with 10+ points on them in a 5-year period
- Pennsylvania takes action when you reach 6+ on your license
- South Dakota suspends licenses that acquire 15+ points in 12-months
- Texas fines drivers with 6+ points in their licenses within the same year
- Virginia allows up to 5 points in a year-long period
It’s important to remember that states penalize traffic violations with different numbers of points. For example, Utah allows up to 200 points on a license. However, the points awarded for each violation are a lot higher than in other states.
How Long Do Points Stay On Your License For?
As you can see, different states allow points to build up on your license over different periods of time. This means that if you receive points for minor traffic violations that are seven years apart, you’re unlikely to face suspension.
However, this doesn’t mean that a record of your points won’t remain on your license. In the case of serious traffic violations, such as hit-and-run incidents or DUIs, your points can stay on your license for up to 10 years.
More minor offenses are usually struck from your record after between one and three years, depending on where you live. Some states also support point removal on a driver’s license by rewarding good behavior.
For example, let’s say you live in Pennsylvania and have had your license suspended. For every year that you don’t have any violations, the state will remove up to three points from your license. So it is actually possible to clear your license!
Does Having Points on Your License Increase or Decrease Your Car Insurance Rates?
So how can driving license points affect your insurance premiums? When you apply for a new insurance policy, an insurer will be able to see your driving record, and this includes any points that you have on your license.
Having a lot of points or traffic violations on your record can have a negative impact on the price of your insurance. This is because insurers see it as a reflection of the quality of your driving. So if you’ve recently received points on your license and are looking for new insurance, don’t be surprised if your quote is higher than it has been in the past!
Drivers who have previously violated traffic laws are seen as more of a risk by most insurance companies. This is because they are more likely to get into an accident. This means that there is a bigger chance that the insurance company will have to pay out on their policy.
An insurer may overlook certain violations if you can provide an explanation of these. For example, not paying a parking fine on time doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a dangerous driver. So an insurer may be happy to overlook this circumstance when deciding your premium rates.
How to Save Your Car Insurance Cost When You Have Driver’s License Points
If you are shopping for a new car insurance deal and have points on your license, there are a few things you can do to get a good deal.
First things first, speak to someone from the insurance company to discuss your options. Insurers may be more lenient if you have a long and clean driving record since getting your points.
You can also go on traffic awareness courses to help clear points and prove to insurers that your driving has improved. Or you can appeal against points when they are first added onto your license to avoid getting them altogether.
If you can’t get your points removed from your license, then it’s worth looking for policies that offer accident forgiveness deals.
These companies offer better deals for people who have points on their license. They will carefully consider all of the circumstances of your license points and provide you with a quote based on this information. That way, you will get a much fairer insurance premium rate.
If you do end up getting points on your license, it is important that you focus on maintaining a clean record for the rest of your driving lifetime. This is the best way to prove to insurers that you are a safe and reliable road user. Doing this will help to keep the cost of your car insurance as low as possible!
Get Help With Your Car Insurance Policy Today
Getting driver’s license points is never fun and there are so many different ways to get them! So rather than being upset or disappointed receiving drivers points, is knowing what to do next.
If you can appeal the points or get them removed from your license, this could cut your insurance premium costs in the future. However, if you can’t do this, there are still plenty of ways to find great car insurance with driver’s license points.
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