California DMV Point Structure

California DMV Point Structure

California DMV Point Rates

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the state of California utilizes a point system to assess driving records for individuals, with a starting point of zero.

Traffic tickets and other violations can have an impact on the driving record, adding points towards a license suspension or revocation.

The following are examples of violations that can cause a driver to accumulate points against their license:

  • Petty traffic offenses, including traffic tickets
  • Reckless or aggressive driving
  • Driving while in possession of a revoked or suspended California driver's license
  • Hit and run violations
  • Driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI)
  • Vehicle equipment problems, i.e. child safety seat negligence or driving a vehicle that poses safety hazards

The Suspension or Revocation of Your California Driving Privileges

The more points you acquire in a certain period of time, the more at risk you are for losing your driving privileges. The California DMV has the ability to revoke or suspend your license for the following:

  • 4 points over the course of 12 months
  • 6 points over the course of 24 months
  • 8 points over the course of 36 months

Many people assume that a driving record is cleared automatically of accumulated points over after 12 months, however, this is not true.

Impact on Insurance Rates

Your insurance company will check your driving record when you purchase a policy, and again at each renewal period. Depending on how many points you have against your license, you may be required to pay higher insurance rates, attend a California traffic school or switch insurance companies.

How the DMV Notifies You of Points Accumulated

Any time that points are added to your driving record, you will be notified in writing by the California DMV. A warning statement will be sent when you accrue half of the amount of points needed for your license to be revoked.

When you have one point left until your license is suspended, the DMV will send another warning letter specifying their intent to suspend your license. If your license is, in fact, suspended, the DMV will notify you by mailing an Order of Suspension/Probation.

California Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers in California accrue points faster than non-commercial drivers, at a rate of 1.5 times the normal rate.

How to Clear Your Driving Record

Points against your driving record will fall off over time. Follow the below guidelines to determine the time frames for a cleared record:

  • Single point violations fall off after 3 years
  • Points associated with serious violations like DWI/DUI or hit and run violations remain on your driving record for 10 years
  • Missing a court date for any traffic infraction will not fall off your record for a total of 5 years
  • Missing a court date for a DWI/DUI will stay on your record for 10 years

How to Maintain a Clear Driving Record

Maintaining a clear driving record is as simple as avoiding breaking the law.

However, if you have been issued a traffic ticket, you may be able to negotiate alternative punishments, such as attending California traffic school. Individuals with a significant amount of points against their license can consult with a lawyer who specializes in traffic ticket defense.

How to Check the Standing of Your California License

Checking the status of your driver's license in California can be done by simply ordering a report of your driving record through the DMV. In order to confirm that no errors have been made in reporting, order a driving record report on occasion.

Nothing ruins your California day like a traffic ticket. However, you can mask the ticket and lose those points from your driving record if you take the specified class from a California State Approved Traffic School. Improv Traffic School is an excellent choice if you want to take your California traffic school class online.

Successfully completing a course from an approved traffic school can prevent traffic violations from hurting your driving record. In many cases, taking a course may get that traffic ticket masked, and attending traffic school will also improve your knowledge as a driver and raise your skill level. It can add to your safety consciousness, too, so that you, your family and friends, and other drivers will be safer on the road.

Traffic schools, sometimes referred to as defensive driving classes, are licensed and approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You are eligible to take the class if you have received a moving violation or if you would like to qualify for a discount on your auto insurance.

If you have received a traffic ticket, the county you live in may allow you to complete a traffic school class to get your citation masked, and to avoid having any points added to your driving record.

If you have not gotten a ticket but choose to enroll voluntarily in traffic school, your auto insurance company may give you a safe driver discount.

Regardless of the reason you are taking a traffic school class, you will gain knowledge that will prove valuable, about California traffic laws, defensive driving techniques and how to avoid receiving California traffic tickets in the future.

Taking Traffic School Classes in California

In the state of California, you may complete traffic school in the classroom or online.

Unless the court states specifically that you must attend your class in person, you may choose the method that is most convenient for you.

Driver improvement classes may be completed to:
  • Mask a traffic ticket
  • Avoid the adding of points to your driving record
  • Avoid higher insurance rates from your provider

You may or may not be eligible to take defensive driving or traffic school. It depends on your specific, individual circumstances.

Even if you have a traffic ticket that won’t be masked and you won’t earn discounts on your car insurance for taking the class, traffic school can still be quite beneficial. It may improve your driving skills, knowledge and your behavior behind the wheel.

Masked a California Traffic Ticket and Avoid Points on Your Driving Record

If you have received a traffic ticket for a moving violation, you may be determined eligible to have your ticket masked when you take traffic school, unless:

  • Your driver’s license is invalid
  • Your moving violation happened in a commercial vehicle.
  • Your offense was a felony
  • Your offense was alcohol-related
  • You have completed traffic school for a previous ticket in the last 18 months

Your county or local traffic court will determine whether you are eligible for traffic school. It depends on the specifics of your offense, as well as your driving history. They will usually mail you a courtesy notice to inform you whether you may take traffic school or not.

This notice, along with confirming or denying eligibility, should include a deadline by which you must complete the traffic program, if you are eligible.

Always verify your eligibility with your court system before you enroll in a traffic school course.

To locate traffic schools available to you, simply visit the website of the California DMV.

NOTE: If you are not currently eligible to have your traffic ticket masked with a traffic school course, the DMV or the court may actually ADD points to your driving record, and they may suspend your California driver’s license.

Earn a Valuable Auto Insurance Discount

If you want to voluntarily take traffic school classes, your auto insurance provider may give you a discount on your insurance rates.

If you are 55 years of age or older and you complete traffic school, your auto insurance company will usually apply a safe driver discount to your policy for up to three years.

While these discounts for safe drivers are commonly given to drivers who are young or elderly, drivers of any age are eligible for this discount.

While these discounts for safe drivers are commonly given to drivers who are young or elderly, drivers of any age are eligible for this discount.

Details for California Traffic School Courses

Most California traffic school programs, whether completed in the classroom or online, may take roughly eight hours to complete.

Your traffic course will cover many driving topics, including:

  • Traffic Laws in California
  • Techniques for Defensive Driving
  • Tips to help you become a safer and more responsible motorist

In order to complete your course, you will usually be required to pass a final exam.

When you complete your class, make sure you receive your certificate of completion for traffic school. You will usually need to submit this document to the proper California traffic court and your insurance provider.

If you’d like more details about California traffic school, you may contact your insurance company, your local court or the California DMV.

Online Defensive Driving and Traffic School Courses