California Point System
The California DMV utilizes a point system to grade your driving record. Everyone starts with a clean record, but you will get points added for each violation you are cited for. The following are examples of what can cause you to accumulate points on your driving record.
- Moving violations. (Traffic tickets)
- Having mechanical parts of your car not working. Things such as broken taillights and inadequate child safety equipment qualify.
- Reckless driving.
- Driving without a valid license. (Suspended or revoked)
- Being part of a hit-and-run accident.
- Any kind of DUI.
- Being part of an accident that caused damage of over $500.
Usually, moving violations will add one point to your driving record, but that can change based on the severity of the violation. If you get caught for reckless driving, a DUI, or excessive speeding, you’re looking at more points, fines and consequences.
Suspended CA Driver’s Licenses
In California, driving is considered a privilege and not a right. This means the DEM may suspend or take away your license if you go over a certain amount of points on your driving record.
The following shows the threshold of points for a given time period that will put you at risk of having your license suspended or revoked.
- Four points in a 12 month period.
- Six points in a 24 month period.
- Eight points in a 36 month period.
Many people think driving record points are automatically erased one year after the violation, but this is not always the case. If you have points you are curious about, you can check out the DMV Violation Codes.
Insurance Rate Consequences
When signing up for an insurance policy, or renewing your policy, your insurance agency looks over your driving record. If you have points on your record, you will be paying more than someone who has a clean record. If renewing, you may experience a big increase in rates that may cause you to look for a new company.
Being Notified of Added Points
You will be told by the CA DMV when you have had points tacked onto your record. If you’ve gotten half the points needed before a revocation, you will get a letter in the mail from the DMV.
Once you only have one point left before a revocation, you will get a “Notice of Intent to Suspend” letter from he DMV. This means you are very close to having your license taken away.
If you happen to go over the points threshold and have your license taken away, you will get an Order of Probation/Suspension from the California DMV.
Commercial Driving in California
For those who have a commercial driver’s license in California, you will earn 1.5 times the points that a noncommercial driver would earn.
How to Clear Your California Driving Record
The biggest factor in clearing your record of points is just to wait it out. With time, each violation will disappear from your record. Here are the periods of time you can expect to wait before each violation is removed from your record:
- If the violation added 1 point to your record, you can expect to wait 3 years to have it erased.
- If you were found guilty of a DUI or hit-and-run, you can expect to wait 10 years before it is erased.
- If you don’t appear in court, it will appear on your driving record for 5 years.
- Not appearing in court for a DUI will stay on your record for 10 years.
Avoiding Points Altogether
Of course, the best way to avoid getting points is to not commit any violations in the first place. However, if you do happen to get some points, you still have options for getting them taken off your record:
A. Contest your ticket in court. If you have a strong case against your ticket, you can fight it in court. However, it should be noted that you may not be able to take traffic school to erase points if you decide to do this.
B. Enroll in Traffic School. Traffic school is the best way to have your points taken away and assure that the violation won’t be on your record. You are only eligible to take a traffic school course once every 18 months. If you have been convicted of a DUI or another serious violation, you may not be eligible.