Understanding the California DMV Point System
To keep tabs on dangerous drivers, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) operates the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS). Under the NOTS, the DMV assigns points to traffic code violations that involve or affect safely operating a vehicle. These points are added to motorists’ driving records and can prompt action from the DMV.
Points are not just numbers on your record. They can prompt the DMV to take adverse action against your driving privileges. And anyone can request a copy of your driving record, meaning those points could be seen by your insurance company or employer, too.
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 CA 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. Non-moving violations such as parking tickets do not result in a point as long as they do not make it unsafe for the motorist to drive. Out of state violations will also be assigned points, but out of state collisions are not.
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
If you are under 18 years old, the penalties for a traffic infraction are more severe. 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 want to know how to remove points from their record. The simple answer is time.
As long as you keep a clean driving record for a designated amount of time, your points will be cleared automatically. 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 no matter the severity 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. Doing 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
There are 3 methods to check how many points you have on your California driver’s license – in person, online or by mail.
(1) 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.
(2) 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.
(3) 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 or a loved one has received a ticket or been in accident that has added points to your record, call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.