When you get pulled over by a cop and are issued a ticket, it’s tempting to just put it out of sight and out of mind. Why not just pay the fine and move on? After all, one minor traffic violation is no big deal, and people get tickets all the time.
Well, while one ticket alone is not a big deal, it’s also not something you should simply ignore. A traffic violation that results in a ticket means that you’re getting points on your license. One violation alone might not affect you in any major way, but if you get another one in the future—which you may try to prevent but sometimes it might feel a little out of your control—then you need to be a little more concerned about your license getting suspended.
What Are Points?
It’s easy to have skimmed over this part in a driver’s education course because you probably weren’t thinking about traffic tickets then; instead, you were focused more on getting your license and getting out there! But understanding how the traffic point system in your state is a vital part of keeping your license, especially if you’ve received a ticket.
Depending on the traffic violation, you will get a ticket. This ticket translates to a certain number of points on your license, and a record of these points is kept in your state’s file. If you accumulate too many points from too many violations, then you risk having your license suspended.
It’s important to know that points are not permanent, and even for the most serious offenses like DUIs, points will eventually disappear. It will, however, take time. For example, a DUI in some states will remain on your license for a decade or more. Smaller violations will result in smaller points and only stay for a year or two.
Moving and Non-Moving Violations
There are two different types of violations that you can make, and it’s important to know the difference before you get too worried about points on your license.
Although you may receive fines, tickets, and other inconveniences from non-moving violations, you can rest assured that these are not a threat to you having possession of your driver’s license. A non-moving violation is, well, exactly what it sounds like: an offense that occurs that does not involve the car being in motion. Some examples of non-moving violations include:
- Parking at an expired meter
- Parking in a no-parking zone
- Driving with broken mirrors or lights
- Having a missing license plate
- Having windows that are tinted too much
A moving violation, however, involves a car in motion being operated incorrectly. Moving violations can add points to your license, and if you accumulate too many of these then your license could be suspended. These can include:
- Texting while driving
- Failure to use a turn signal
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Illegal passing
- Driving on the sidewalk
- Something blocking the driver’s view
- Disobedience to traffic signs or controllers
Examples of Traffic Point System
Of course, the difference between moving and non-moving violations is pretty standard, but the number of points you’ll receive varies from state to state. Furthermore, the length of time each violation remains on your license differs, too. The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with your state’s rules and regulations in its traffic point system. While they’re in place with the same goal in mind—to keep drivers safe—each state does things a little differently. In fact, cell phone laws alone are vastly different in places like Texas, California, Arizona, and other locations. Your state’s DMV website will be able to clarify the different violations, how many points they will incur, and if you’re able to take online traffic school in order to waive points.
There are a number of 1- and 2-point violations that you can commit in the state of Texas. Once you’ve reached 6 points or more on your record, you will also receive immediate fines for certain violations. For example, if you drive while intoxicated (DWI) or drive without car insurance or your driver’s license, you will get slammed with a surcharge, regardless of the number of points on your record.
Surcharge rates include:
- First-time DWI: $1,000. This is an automatic surcharge.
- Driving without auto insurance: $250. This is an automatic surcharge.
- Driving without a license: $100. This is an automatic surcharge.
- Having up to 6 points: $100. This is assessed annually.
- Every additional point: $25. This is assessed annually.
Fines are bad enough, but you can also risk having your license suspended if you accumulate too many points in too short of a time. If you have 4 moving violations or more within 12 months or 7 moving violations or more within 24 months, your license may be revoked. More serious violations could result in automatic suspension, including:
- Causing an accident while driving without auto insurance.
- Violations that involve drugs or alcohol.
- Fatal collisions that are a cause of reckless driving.
- Drinking underage.
California also has a list of violations that count 1 or 2 points against your license. Alone, these won’t affect you too much, but when they’ve accumulated you could run into a problem. If you receive:
- 4 points in one year
- 6 points in two years
- Or 8 points in three years
then the DMV will suspend your license for 6 months since you have gotten too many points. Preventative measures are an effective way of making sure you never even get close to four points, so in addition to driving safely, you can also consider an online class.
Both Texas and California allow for people to take an online course in order to waive points, depending on the violation and timeframe. Check with your local DMV to see if you’re eligible.
Florida also uses a point system to track traffic violations. Only tickets received from moving violations will give you points in your driving record. And if you accrue too many points within a certain period, your driver’s license can be revoked or suspended. The length of suspension will depend on the time you have accumulated the points (as specified by Florida law).
- If you get 12 points within 12 months = 30 days suspension
- If you get 18 points within 18 months = 3 months suspension
- If you get 24 points within 36 months = 1-year suspension
Meanwhile, if you commit 15 violations or a total of three major offenses within five years, your driver’s license will be revoked. (Note that your license can also be revoked for other reasons).
For drivers who are considered a minor (under 18), if they receive six or more points within a year, their license will be automatically restricted for one year. If they accumulated more points, the restriction will be extended for 90 days for each point they receive. They can, however, drive for business purposes during this time.
Taking Traffic School or Defensive Driving Course to Remove Points
Similar to how each state reinforces their respective traffic points systems, some states may or may not allow reduction or removal of points from your driving record. If you’re lucky enough to be living in a state that has a point reduction program, then taking a traffic school or defensive driving course can help restore your clean driving record.
Again, each state will have different laws and regulations regarding the assessment of points against a driver’s license, so better check with the court that has issued your ticker or your local DMV office to find out if taking the course can help you with your ticket dismissal.
Once you’re sure about it, check out our Online Traffic School Reviews to find the best school to take your online traffic course from.