How Long Do Points Stay On Your License?

Points stay on your license for two to 10 years, depending on your state and the offense committed. High-risk drivers pay 41% more on average for car insurance.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Nov 22, 2020

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How Long Do Points Stay on Your License?

Here's what you need to know...

  • Points on your license vary by state but expect to see the points remain for three years
  • More serious violations resulting in points can stay on your license for up to seven years
  • Using an attorney to fight tickets may save you money in the long run
  • Car insurance companies take note of your driving history and will increase rates

When you get a parking or traffic ticket, you have two choices. You may decide to contest the ticket in a court of law, and tell your side of the story to the presiding judge. Alternatively, you may decide to pay the ticket.

A third choice of avoiding paying the ticket is never an option! Don’t ignore the ticket: It won’t go away and will only lead to greater problems, such as a driver’s license suspension.

If you’re thinking about comparing car insurance quotes, request them now by typing in your home ZIP code location!

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What are driving record points?

Each state assigns points in different ways, but in California, they record points in the following manner:

When a police officer pulls a driver over and issues a traffic violation ticket, the receiving driver must sign the ticket to acknowledge it. The driver’s signature is also a promise to appear before the traffic court.

If the violation is a serious offense, the driver may be required to post bail.

Paying bail doesn’t imply a guilty plea. Rather, in a serious offense, the violator posts bail to ensure that they will appear before the presiding court as agreed.

However, if the violator fails to appear before the court after posting bail, the court considers the action as a guilty plea. Forfeiting bail in this instance is a serious matter. In doing so, the driver may also be required to pay additional fines or serve jail time for the violation.

How do points determine a driver’s “negligent operator” status?

Because failure to appear (FTA) in court is a serious matter, the FTA goes on the driver’s record. When the driver fails to pay a fine (FTP), this information is also recorded on the driver’s file.

The Department of Motor Vehicles in California, similar to other states’ DMVs, may suspend the driver’s license. In order to reinstate their driver’s license, the offender must pay a reinstatement fee in addition to any fines assessed by the court.

Here are some additional facts concerning traffic violations in California:

  • Each and every conviction goes on the driver record. Unfortunately, convictions for traffic violations in other states are also placed in the driver’s home state file.
  • In California, the type of conviction on the driver’s record is assigned a certain number of points. Depending upon the severity of the conviction, these points remain on the driver’s record at least 36 months!
  • In California, the driver is considered a negligent operator when they accumulate four points in a 12-month period, six points in a 24-month period, or eight points in a 36-month period.

What kinds of events cause the driver to accumulate driving record points?

If the driver is determined to cause an “at-fault” accident or receives a traffic violation conviction, they may accumulate a single point on their DMV record.

If the driver is convicted of certain offenses, he accumulates multiple points on his record. These offenses include:

If the driver accumulates multiple offenses within the one to three-year period, they may lose their driver license in California and most other states in the U.S.

According to author and attorney David Brown of Fight Your Ticket and Win in California, some serious offenses, such as driving over 100 m.p.h. or a reckless driving conviction, remain on the driver’s state DMV record for up to seven years in California.

Drunk driving and drug impairment driving convictions remain on the driver’s license for up to 10 years in the state.

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What are the costs of receiving driving record points?

Paying the ticket for a violation can be costly. For example, in Sacramento, parking in a handicapped zone without proper display of the state decal cost the owner about $440 plus the $12.50 fee attached to all California tickets.

Most simple parking tickets aren’t reported to the DMV in California, according to VC Section 1803.

Accumulating driving points on the state DMV record can be even more expensive. In addition to fines, legal representation fees, and higher car insurance rates, a single parking ticket (in this instance) can eventually cost the driver thousands of dollars!

That’s why making an early, clear-cut decision about whether to contest the ticket or simply pay it makes good financial sense.

In some circumstances, the presiding judge may allow the offender to pay an expensive ticket in installments. Engaging an attorney to contest the ticket may ultimately save the driver money in fines and higher car insurance rates, too!

Comparing your car insurance rates at least once a year can save you money. Request car insurance quotes by providing us with your ZIP code now!

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