In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles rates your driving record using “points.” A driver with a clean record has no points on driving record. Various traffic violations that result in tickets or citations can add points to your license. Mechanical issues with your car that can impact its safety can also result in points being placed on your license for failure to fix these safety issues.

The number of points you get on your license depends on the violation. In California, one point is issued for:

  • Small moving violations
  • Safety issues with your car

Two points go on your DMV CA driving record for:

  • DUI
  • Hit and run accidents where you’re the one who hits and runs
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving without a valid license

The Danger of Points on Driving Record Files

If you acquire enough points on your driver’s license within a certain period of time, you could lose your license. The loss of the license might be a temporary suspension or a permanent revocation. This makes it difficult to do any of the things you need to do, such as shopping and going to work. Sometimes, you can get a hardship license that allows you to drive to the grocery store, the bank, work, and other necessary places, but nowhere else. Other times, the hardship license will not be granted, and you will have to depend on others for rides or use public transportation.

Typically, your license could be suspended if you acquire 4 points within 12 months, 6 points within 24 months, or 8 points within 36 months. If you have multiple incidents of the same offense, such as DUI or driving without a license, your license might be suspended permanently.

The points are not automatically cleared off of your license after a certain amount of time, either. The amount of time points stay on your license depends on why they were put there in the first place. If it’s just one point, it’s usually removed after three years. If you don’t show up in court for a traffic violation hearing, you’ll get points that will stay on your license for 5 years (unless you don’t show up to court for a DUI hearing, in which case the points will stay for 10 years). More serious traffic crimes result in 10-year points, too. Only a judge can remove them before their natural removal dates.

How to Avoid CA DMV Points

Not only do points on your driver’s license put you at risk for losing your license, they also raise your car insurance rates quite dramatically. The more points you have, the higher your rates, and in some cases, you won’t be able to find a company to insure you. Besides obeying all traffic laws at all times, the next best way to avoid points on your license is to attend traffic school if you get a ticket. If you have a one-point infraction, attending traffic school is your alternative to taking the point. It’s highly recommended to go to traffic school to avoid the point.

Two-point infractions aren’t eligible for dismissal through traffic school and neither are non-moving violations. You’ll need to hire a traffic attorney to help you avoid getting those types of points on your license. The money you spend on the attorney will be worth it in keeping your insurance rates reasonable and in protecting your driver’s license.